Storage Made Simple

CIOs increasingly push their suppliers to make things simpler and that’s true in all domains, but perhaps especially in Storage where the explosion of data is driving the business.

Had an amazing experience talking about IBM FlashSystem Storage to our customers, a family that traverses right from entry, mid-range, enterprise, and can go out to a hybrid, multicloud environment. It’s all driven across a common platform with a common API, common software, our award-winning “Spectrum Virtualize”. By providing a common API and software platform, IBM believes it is taking the complexity out of enterprise storage while helping businesses of all sizes operate in a better way.


Location: Le Méridien, Coimbatore

Anatomy of DS8900F Storage

Created an overview about IBM DS8K storage arrays and published it in IBM Storage Community.

Simply, this is my version of DS8K & it’s components, features though you can find numerous similar articles from SMEs

I’m an IBMer and Storage Technical Specialist at the time of posting this article and the views expressed here are my own. They don’t necessarily represent my organization’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

Tape Saves

Many of us feels Tape is dead; Actually, tape usage is increased drastically these days. Larger CSPs, Enterprises use tape technology for their long-term data retention requirements today. With the increase in tape density, customers can store Peta Byte’s of data with smaller tape footprint and can achieve better economics / TCO over disk based solutions.

With the arrival of LTO-8, 360MB/s of tape drive throughput is far better than WAN connected Cloud Storage Containers / Object Storage Buckets when comes to Backup & Restore operations.

Tape is always considered as an “Air Gap” solution which can prevent the data loss from cyber attacks & security threats.

Linear Tape-Open is an open tape format developed by below LTO Consortium members,
1. IBM
2. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)
3. Quantum

Please find the below LTO generations,

At present, LTO-8 is being used in today’s backup platforms and tape technology has a stronger focus and future roadmap

LTO Future Roadmap:
> LTO-9 > LTO-10 > LTO-11 > LTO-12

Tape has below rich feature-sets over the years of development,
1. WORM (Write Once Read Many): will ensure the tape data is not overwritten/deleted/modified; Data can be written only once & can read as many times as required. Clients uses WORM media for their compliance and regulatory requirements.
2. Encryption: AES 256-bit encryption improves security
3. LTFS Partitioning: Linear Tape File System improves space management

Media Verification:
It is a scheduled process to verify the tape media /cartridge and ensure the data can be read from it. For larger tape library install base, at least one or two tape drives dedicated exclusively to tape verification


Encryption can be done in two ways,

  1. Application Managed Encryption:
    In this method, Enterprise Backup/Archive solution, will take care of the encryption portion. For instance, IBM Spectrum Protect is capable of generating & managing
    encryption policies and secret keys.
  2. Library Managed Encryption:
    In this method, the tape library has a list of media cartridge volume serial numbers that are designated for encryption

IBM Spectrum Archive:

IBM Spectrum Archive solution can give us the capability of mounting an Automated Tape Library (irrespective of no.of tape drives installed) as a Driver Letter (for instance, Windows Server). So that, we can read and write the data to tape media without having an Enterprise grade backup application. With Spectrum Archive, we can simply drag & drop the files inside a cartridge as good as using an USB stick and perform a file move

Logical Tape Library:

Logical tape libraries used to partition a physical library into few logical portion. For instance, in a service provider environment, CSPs host multi-tenants in backup infra. Some of the client may have preference to one Backup Application (IBM Spectrum Protect) and few may be using (Commvault) and few of them prefers NetBackup. In this case, we can create 3 logical tape libraries and assign tape drives & cartridges based on the requirement. Each Backup application will see the logical library as dedicated physical library for that infra.

FBA vs CKD Overview

Parameter Open System IBM z System (Mainframe)
Storage Type FBA (Fixed Block Architecture) CKD (Count Key Data)
Connectivity Fibre Channel/SCSI etc ESCON/FICON
Character sets ASCII EBCDIC
Extent Size 16 MiB, 1GiB 21 cylinders (or) 1113 cylinders
Base Used by many OEMs IBM proprietary

Note: Whether Flash or HDD, it’s still an emulated track for zOS or FB environments