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Tools for mainframe storage management

When we write about storage resource management (SRM) on SearchStorageChannel.com and on sister sites such as SearchStorage.com and SearchStorage.co.UK, we generally write about it in

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the context of the open systems environment, for data centers reliant on Unix-, Linux- or Windows-based servers. But it’s just as important in a mainframe environment. If you have customers with mainframes, understanding the SRM-related options and opportunities for both you and them is key to delivering greater efficiency in the storage systems that support their mainframes. This tip lays out the available mainframe storage management products and capabilities.

Much has been written about SRM tools in the open systems environment. Briefly, they enable administrators to understand the storage environment and manage resources more effectively. The range of capabilities can be very wide depending on the tools used or the actions taken by an administrator. SRM tools can monitor and manage a number of areas, where management can range from reporting or alerting to taking actions to address the condition. Storage capacity, availability and performance are key management areas common to SRM solutions. Beyond the basic resource management areas are reporting and monitoring of the storage configuration, events related to storage systems, results of data protection actions such as backup software and the inventory of storage assets. 

In the mainframe environment, IBM z/OS is the dominant mainframe. The z/OS system has many built-in capabilities to provide information about storage and manage the resources. This functionality is incorporated into different program products and utilities, such as Workload Manager, System Resource Manager and Data Facility System Managed Storage (DFSMS). 

With many mechanisms that operate in different ways requiring separate management and customization such as execution control lists or added software to provide automation, centralized SRM could provide simpler tools for many of the high-value SRM features. Most SRM tools focus on the storage systems being used, which, in the mainframe environment, are systems with volumes configured in count-key-data (CKD) format. In many enterprise environments, the mainframe storage systems can be shared with Unix, Linux- and Windows-based open systems. These operating systems use volumes configured in a fixed-block architecture (FBA) format. The dissimilarity between the two formats makes the SRM software function differently when monitoring and reporting. And representing the information in a combined format is a complicated proposition. Consequently, very few SRM solutions (CA Vantage Storage Resource Manager, the EMC Ionix ControlCenter suite and IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center) address both mainframe and open systems environments. And one, the BMC MainView SRM suite, is dedicated to mainframe storage.

Some IT operations have storage administration with responsibilities for both mainframes and open systems; those shops would benefit from an SRM product that can handle both. Sites where administration is isolated by the type of environment should focus on SRM solutions that are limited to that environment.  

Mainframe storage management software solutions generally consist of host-resident software that interacts with z/OS software using APIs or “user exits” and system resources. Some also use a separate server with software that communicates with the host systems and with the storage systems. SRM solutions in the mainframe environment have differing capabilities, which are highlighted below.

BMC MainView SRM software runs on z/OS and includes several elements that complement z/OS storage management capabilities. These are organized into modules that represent functional areas:

  • BMC MainView SRM Allocation manages the allocation of space where datasets are assigned to direct access storage device (DASD) volumes that meet defined performance and availability requirements.
  • BMC MainView StopX37/II intercepts out-of-disk space abends and manages secondary space allocation to correct the condition. Reports are generated on events, impacts and recovery steps, and a space usage report is generated to identify wasted space and other space errors.
  • BMC MainView Automation automates rules in handling storage. Rules can be configured for dealing with exceptions and reporting or alerting about storage conditions.
  • BMC MainView Reporting provides reports on storage for both real-time circumstances and historical information. Reports are available on performance, capacity, utilization, errors, automated actions and trends. 

CA Vantage Storage Resource Manager runs on mainframe systems with a storage system reporting tool that runs on a Windows server. CA has a complementary version of the product for open systems, called CA Storage Resource Manager. Storage management features include DASD classification and assigning datasets a value using the capacity required and protection requirements. CA Vantage SRM includes a GUI, automatic scheduling for reporting, the ability to consolidate with open systems reporting (on the Windows server), reporting analysis with drill-downs and catalog management.  There are also a number of optional features for allocation management, database reporting, automation of tasks and exception handling.

EMC Ionix ControlCenter is a family of products for data center management that include storage-related management and reporting. To manage EMC Symmetrix storage systems in a z/OS environment, a separate server is installed with a software agent for Symmetrix, and software called SYMAPI is installed on the host system. EMC Ionix ControlCenter has applications that operate in a z/OS environment:  

  • EMC Ionix ControlCenter Automated Resource Manager monitors and manages z/OS storage with functions to allocate storage to a host, initialize z/OS volumes, map volumes to physical devices for troubleshooting and automate alert responses.
  • EMC Ionix ControlCenter StorageScope (which also works in open systems environments) reports on storage system configuration, status and usage. Custom queries and trending reports can be created.
  • EMC Ionix ControlCenter Performance Manager collects, archives and displays information for host systems and EMC storage.

IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center is a suite of products from IBM to address management of different aspects of storing information. As mentioned previously, IBM has many z/OS programs and utilities for reporting and managing storage. In addition, within the Tivoli Productivity Center suite, there is one application specific to z-Series, the IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center for Replication. This application supports advanced copy services for IBM storage systems, including automation of administration, operational control, and monitoring and reporting on copy sessions.

Randy Kerns is a senior strategist at Evaluator Group.

This was first published in January 2012

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