Partner Forum: Simplify Your IT Life, Simplify Your Tape

Justin Bastin, EMC Corporation By Justin Bastin, EMC Corporation

Are you figuring out how to divvy your time in an already full day of meetings, projects and deadlines? During those hectic days, are you pondering what can be done to find more time in a day? Here is an encouraging fact: You’re not the only one going through these daily thoughts. Although this article may not answer all your questions, we will look at why simplifying one aspect of your IT environment will save the time you need and deserve.

By simplifying your tape environment, you can achieve a reduction in total cost of ownership while increasing visibility in your IT infrastructure. With the increase federal legislation on data retention, for example PID (Personal Identification) requirements, the data explosion will increase IT complexities. Start the conversation, roll up your sleeves and understand how to simplify your tape infrastructure.

As we have seen, there are multiple ways to solve a problem. This idea can be applied to everything around us, including implementing and managing tape infrastructure.            

Where to begin?

First, evaluate your existing tape environment and characterize it in a meaningful way. Some of the factors worth noting in your environment include (but not limited to):

  • Number of virtual and physical tapes in both your offsite and primary environments
  • Number of tape drives 
  • Types of tapes (3480, 3490, 3490E, 3590 and 3590E)
  • Tape/Data Growth over the last three years
  • The expected tape growth over the next three years

Knowing the factors above will empower you to have an educated discussion with your vendor of choice during your tape simplification process.

Next, increase visibility into your tape environment by collecting your SMF 21 records. The SMF type 21 record contains statistical information about your tape environment. From the SMF 21 record you will want to focus on two things:

  • What tape pools your applications are utilizing and
  • Tape usage during your peak times.

After understanding your current environment, take time to research what opportunities exist for simplification and ask yourself the following questions. Why are the tape sizes what they are? If making your tapes larger, could you consolidate the number of physical/virtual tapes and drives? Could you reduce the number of pool names or ACS routines? Also, if you are considering a new solution, this information will be vital in sizing it.

Not only does simplification take place within your tape environment, but you need to consider the management of the data and monitoring capabilities of this new environment. Consider consulting your vendor partners to see what tools they have to assist you in leveraging technology to increase visibility and expedite the process. For example, EMC has a tool called the “EMC Assessment for Mainframe Tape Environments” that could assist in evaluating and planning for building your ideal tape solution. Regardless what your vendor of choice is, tools are there to help you start your tape project.

While IT ecosystems drive companies towards a path of intelligent analytics, and the complexity of IT infrastructures continues to grow, consider what existing environments embedded throughout your organization could benefit through simplification. I am not conveying a complete re-haul of your infrastructure, yet we need to start somewhere. So start small and go after the low-hanging fruit in your organization.

Simplifying your processes should be considered an accomplishment if you answer yes to the any of the questions:

  • Are you reducing complexities in your environment?
  • Does the visibility increase within your IT infrastructure through the simplification process?
  • Will you increase efficiencies by reducing time both in processing and TTI (Time to Implement)?

While compiling your findings consider pulling in management to evaluate your efforts. If your process has come to fruition, you have gained much more than an education; your infrastructure is more efficient and you are reaping the fruits of your labor.

In a time where you are asked to do more, you should always be evaluating how to do things more efficiently. Even if you remove one complexity while maintaining your TCO and QoS, in the long run you will save on people hours to manage such an environment. Some of the most precious and scarce gifts are people and their time. Through this journey you will enable your organization to take educated risks when allocating its resources while saving time and money.

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