EMC Unveils AS/400 Continuity Software

EMC is edging out IBM as the leading storage provider for very large databases. Thirty-two percent of database developers and administrators prefer EMC, compared with 20 percent for IBM. EMC's presence jumped by 17 percentage points over last year, while IBM dropped from 25 percent. Source: Winter Corp. (Waltham, Mass.)

The AS/400 may be famous for its minuscule downtime, but it still doesn't hurt to be prepared for potential disruptions. The classic approach has been to maintain tape backups of systems and data. However, with the growing emphasis on 24 x 7 availability, disk backup through a mirrored site that continuously captures data from the primary server has gained favor.

EMC Corp. (Hopkinton, Mass.), which has offered disk mirroring solutions to mainframe and Unix systems for some time, announced it has extended this capability directly to the AS/400. The company is shipping software that enables AS/400 systems to read secondary copies of production system data, ensuring business continuity in the event of downtime.

This announcement of coexistence with IBM comes at a time when EMC is expanding its presence in the enterprise storage systems (ESS) market. In early August, the company announced plans to purchase Data General Corp. (Westboro, Mass.), well-known for its CLARiiON Fibre Channel storage systems, high-end Windows NT and Unix AViiON servers, and related software and services.

EMC's CopyPoint software for the AS/400 works in conjunction with EMC TimeFinder or Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) software, both of which run on a Symmetrix RAID subsystem. TimeFinder allows system and storage administrators to create, in background mode, mirrored data images for information storage. These copies can be used for backups, data warehouse loading, decision support applications, application development, Year 2000 testing and other activities. SRDF enables EMC Symmetrix sites to mirror duplicate copies of all or some of their data from a primary to a secondary Symmetrix system.

By utilizing multiple copies of data, which reside either on the same storage system or at a second remote system, all AS/400 business-critical production operations can continue while secondary procedures such as point-in-time backups, batch processing, application testing and data warehouse loading occur in parallel.

In moving these solutions to the AS/400 world, EMC underscores its new emphasis on business continuity solutions, as opposed to only selling storage. Business continuity requires a more proactive approach to enterprise-scale preparation, says Paul Morrison, head of product marketing for SafetyNet Group (London, U.K.), providers of business continuity services to AS/400 clients and long-time users of EMC storage products. "After 14 years of providing recovery solutions to mission-critical AS/400 environments, we are now seeing a shift from disaster recovery to a demand for business continuity," he notes.

Business continuity is a new focus for both the storage and disaster recovery industries as well. "For many users, the value of continuous availability storage solutions far exceeds the incremental storage and software expense," says John McArthur, an analyst with International Data Corp. (Framingham, Mass.). Such enterprise-scale storage solutions "eliminate or dramatically reduce outages from planned events such as backup, application testing, Y2K testing, euro testing, data warehouse loads and report generation."

Robust storage solutions are key to supporting 24x7 operations, eliminating backup downtimes, and improving recovery times.