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It’s time to move on from HSM. Here’s why.

IBM’s DFSMShsm Mainframe Data Protection Solution has been, arguably, the best mainframe storage management tool for more than three decades

Colleen Gordon


Oct 27, 2021

IBM’s DFSMShsm (HSM) is an important storage management tool. It provides data protection and space management features that allow data centers to reduce their primary storage costs. 

On any given day, in data centers all over the world, HSM is managing millions of data assets for clients large and small. To perform this workload, HSM is often a top consumer of general-purpose compute (GPC) cycles and is often in the top 10 “heavy hitters” list for MIPS consumption. 

As a former Storage Administrator, and co-author of two IBM Redbook publications on HSM Audit and ABARS, I’ve been a big fan of HSM for over 33 years. But today, I find myself touting a new solution that replaces the functionality of HSM, significantly reduces GPC cycles and is so simple to use, an entry level technician can easily manage the environment. 

You can now manage mainframe storage in the cloud

The problem is HSM relies on three VSAM data sets called Control Data Sets (CDS) to keep track of the data it manages. Over time, these VSAM data sets can get quite large and require regular maintenance, in the form of reorganizations, re-sizing, auditing/error correction, and reporting. In addition, data on tape must be “recycled” to reclaim tapes when data expires. And to keep HSM tuned and working properly, a highly skilled mainframe technician is required.

Model9’s Cloud Data Manager for Mainframe is a modern mainframe data protection solution. I’ve seen first hand how fast it backs up data directly to Cloud Object Storage (S3) located on premises, in a public cloud or hybrid-cloud.

The cloud is not the only advantage. Model9 also reduces GPC cycles by fully utilizing the System z Integrated Information Processor or zIIP engine(s) and Open System Adapter (OSA) card(s) to perform the workload and push backups out to the cloud object storage. Performance is achieved by moving data in parallel as opposed to writing data out serially, over FICON, such as with virtual tape systems. 

Model9 also doesn’t require maintaining VSAM files, and there are no tapes to reclaim or auditing to worry about. 

Bonus: Mainframe data management gets a GUI!

In addition to being a modern alternative to HSM, Model9  doesn’t require highly skilled resources to manage the backups.  

Data management “profiles” are built using a simple Graphical User Interface (GUI) secured by the client’s mainframe security solution. Clients can use DFSMS retention policies already in place for data life cycle management. The GUI provides scheduling options, and a batch interface is provided for client’s that prefer to utilize their own scheduling solutions. Dashboards and search bars provide reporting capability at your fingertips. 

Recovering data is just as simple using the GUI interface, running a batch job, or using a command line interface similar to HSM. The Model9 solution also uses 40–60% fewer GPC cycles than HSM depending on the client’s hardware configuration. 

There’s more technical benefits as well. For example, it performs space management functions and can protect data from ransomware by writing immutable backup copies.

I think it’s clear that now is the time to move on to managing mainframe data in the cloud. After three decades of updating HSM PARMLIB, resizing and reorganizing Control Data Sets, running Recycle, auditing the CDS, and attempting to create insightful HSM reports, I don’t mind getting this user experience improvement! After all, mainframe storage administrators deserve it!

About the author

Colleen Gordon | Account Executive, Western Region
Colleen Gordon has been working in the IT industry for more than 4 decades. Presently, she is an Account Executive at Model9.
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