Big Blue Taps FalconStor To Move Data To PowerVS Cloud And Protect It
August 22, 2022 Timothy Prickett Morgan
When IBM i shops want to move some or all of their applications to the cloud, they have a lot of options. But there is still only one cloud that is designed and run by the same company that actually makes the Power Systems server and the IBM i operating system and database platform. And that, of course, is the Power Systems Virtual Server, colloquially known as PowerVS these days.
Over the longest of hauls, we expect that a fair number of IBM i shops will use the cloud in some capacity, and some will move their infrastructure entirely to the cloud so they can focus completely on their applications and databases and get out of the datacenter, system acquisition, and system management business entirely. Given this, there is no question that customers need an easy and transparent way to move applications and databases to the cloud and to provide disaster recovery across clouds or between the cloud and on premises systems. (Yes, in an ironic twist, there is a very good chance that some IBM i shops will run their production systems in the cloud but do disaster recovery to their own datacenter or to a co-location facility of their choosing.)
This is why the new partnership between IBM and FalconStor Software, which was announced in May, is important. And this week, the two companies are making the well-known and widely used StorSafe Virtual Tape Library (VTL) generally available on PowerVS cloud as its native and enterprise-grade backup and recovery tool. So now, VTL can be as simple as a few clicks of a mouse. In addition to this use case, the StorSafe VTL software can be set up to get from on premises machinery to the PowerVS cloud infrastructure in the first place. The hassle to move to the cloud is directly proportional to the size of the database and applications that have to be moved from on-premises datacenters to the cloud, and StorSafe VTL can make this a lot easier.
“We have embedded FalconStor’s StorSafe VTL technology within PowerVS cloud IaaS so clients can easily backup and restore their data reliably and seamlessly,” Terry Thomas, director of IBM Power Systems public cloud product management at IBM, tells The Four Hundred. “Since FalconStor’s StorSafe VTL software supports Power9 systems on-premises, the additional integration of FalconStor’s VTL technology within PowerVS cloud is intentionally designed for clients to easily migrate, automatically backup and restore, their data securely to and from PowerVS whether their workloads run on-premises or on PowerVS. Since IBM launched PowerVS in 2019, companies across the world, including banks, retailers, insurance and healthcare providers continue to build hybrid cloud infrastructures by expanding or moving their workloads to PowerVS. Providing PowerVS clients with FalconStor’s VTL industry-leading backup and restore software along with the Power Systems server’s industry-leading security, reliability, and performance, increases confidence that data is protected, backed up and recoverable under any circumstance or threat. In addition, the integration with PowerVS comes with automation that makes it easy to use so PowerVS clients can spend more time modernizing, optimizing, and differentiating their workloads instead of spending valuable time worrying if their workloads running on Power Systems Servers IBM i, AIX, and/or Linux operating systems within PowerVS cloud are secure, backed up, and recoverable.”
IBM’s own Backup Recovery Media Services software, while great for backing up disks to tape, is not a VTL that can manage incremental backups on premises as well as pushing them out to the cloud to do data movement as well as backup. Nobody, including IBM, wants to move their databases and applications to the cloud using tape cartridges and tape drives because this process is too slow. And while IBM Lab Services offers data movement services to onboard people onto the cloud, such services are meant for very high-end customers and are out of the price range of many IBM i shops – and incidentally these services are also based on IBM techies using FalconStor VTL tooling. Big Blue needed an affordable and effective way to remove the data movement barrier for customers on more limited budgets that do want to move to the cloud while at the same time given them a way to do backups and recoveries across regions in the PowerVS cloud, too.
The good news is that larger IBM i customers moving to the PowerVS cloud will also have access to this integrated StorSafe VTL on the cloud to do their petabyte-scale backups to move to the cloud and to protect their data once they are there. Ans that includes cases where tape is the obvious media for restoring to the cloud.
“StorSafe VTL for PowerVS gave us a way to migrate our customer’s tapes from on-premises to PowerVS in a simple and straightforward way,” explains Mark Donovan, IT Architect at Kyndryl, the IBM services spinoff. “We were able to take physical tape from their datacenter and use StorSafe VTL for PowerVS to create virtual tapes that were then sent to PowerVS for deployment, enabling easy migration to the cloud.”
“Having a bridge to the cloud for Power systems is increasingly important to IBM i customers,” says Todd Brooks, chief executive officer at FalconStor. “As well as cloud-native backup and disaster recovery of workloads once there, all of which is delivered through FalconStor’s StorSafe VTL for PowerVS, now available through IBM.”
One of the important differentiators for the integration of the StorSafe VTL with the PowerVS cloud is that many of the old-school VTLs – and there are a number of them out there, are based on the appliance model and are not software-only solutions that can run on premises and in the cloud.
“Other VTL offerings usually require an additional investment in hardware to support the VTL software,” Thomas continues. “The additional hardware investment also results in additional operations, maintenance, and floor cost. For cloud providers that translates into higher prices for their clients added to the hardware and software for their on-premises investments. The FalconStor StorSafe VTL for PowerVS offering is 100 percent software based, scalable with simplified per-terabyte pricing. Clients may also be eligible for discounts of up to 45 percent with a three-year commitment. In addition, if customers want to migrate their workloads to PowerVS themselves, our partnership with FalconStor entitles new PowerVS VTL clients to free self-service migration software.”
We don’t hear the word free very much from IT vendors. But what is clear is that IBM wants to help customers get to the cloud quickly – well, as quickly as terabytes to petabytes of data can be moved over the Internet on working systems where some data is changing all the time – and easily, and then fully protect their data once their applications and databases are running in the PowerVS cloud. And just to be clear, migrating data from on premises to the PowerVS cloud is free but doing backups and restores for data on the PowerVS cloud IBM i instances requires a license to StorSafe just like doing so on premises would. This is perfectly fair.
And if you want to pay someone to manage the move, IBM Lab Services is happy to step in, do all the work, and send you the bill. And no doubt there will be other third-party managed services providers, resellers, and business partners who will also offer such services, with PowerVS and other clouds as targets. IBM wants more cloud customers, and therefore it is going to work hard to make this moving experience as frictionless as possible. We will see how other MSPs try to follow suit. Some will try to use high availability software as a means to move to the cloud, some will use VTL, and we think there will be a mix of approaches. Those who don’t have VTL already will use a move to the cloud as a way to get it, and those who have HA already will probably use that method and those who have VTL will probably move in that manner. We don’t think anyone wants to be shipping arrays of disks or boxes of tapes by UPS or FedEx to do their moves.
And once they get to the cloud, tape is looking real Stone Age, and IBM certainly does not want to be running around loading tape cartridges into a tape loader or shelling out big money for a huge tape library to support backups for its customers. Disk-based VTL is a better answer out on the cloud, too.
“Today we are seeing an increase in the number of companies focused on modernizing all aspects of their business. A fundamental part of their modernization includes building hybrid cloud infrastructure that shifts their investments to more predictable and flexible OPEX and as-a-types investments instead of cyclical CAPEX and perpetual software investments. Shifting to Hybrid Cloud comes with expectations that they will decrease cost, and increase revenue and profit.,” says Thomas. “PowerVS and FalconStor have partnered to simplify and accelerate companies’ journey towards Hybrid Cloud so they can realize those cost savings. To get started, companies with Power8 or Power9 on-premises can install FalconStor StorSafe VTL on their existing Power servers with no required changes to their existing backup applications – including BRMS, Veeam, and Spectrum Protect. They will experience shorter backup times and will benefit from up to 95 percent reduced local storage requirements through deduplication, and disaster recovery by replicating/migrating their VTL images to IBM Cloud Object Storage, which also protects their data from cyber-attacks such as ransomware. This is more efficient and less time consuming than creating and storing backup tapes on premises, and/or shipping them offsite, only to risk spending valuable time and stress trying to restore the data in a timely manner. Those same companies can further reduce their on-premises capex and operations cost by using FalconStor migration/replication technology to expand or shift their development, test, or production workloads to PowerVS. This way they can leave the cost of maintaining and operating hardware to IBM PowerVS, so they can spend more time optimizing their workloads and insights using readily available services across the IBM Cloud and protecting their data with PowerVS FalconStor VTL.”
The StorSafe VTL from FalconStor is available today through IBM and through its network of business partners, and one route to market is now for deployment on the PowerVS cloud. IBM and FalconStor have already talked about the hybrid cloud backups, spanning on premises and cloud to provide for secure, air-gapped data protection, which we talked about back in June. And the word on the street is that IBM and FalconStor are working on an more offerings to further enhance the Power Systems hybrid cloud experience. We will let you know more about that as soon as we find out.