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Renewing your VTL? Here’s how to modernize your mainframe instead.

Gil Peleg


Nov 11, 2021

When it comes to the huge investments made in archival storage and backup capabilities to support mainframe, the advent of the virtual tape library brought tape into the modern world by providing physical automation, making mounting and dismounting volumes faster and more reliable, and reducing space requirements.

But as good as VTL is, it has largely stopped evolving. Today, the long wait time for accessing data via VTL often results in siloed mainframe data that doesn’t allow the mainframe to deliver as much value to the organization as it could.

This is why renewing legacy VTL technology is not the best strategy for high-performing mainframe teams. Instead, they should consider replacing their legacy storage and data management with a modern solution—object storage and cloud data management.

Breaking down mainframe data silos

“Object storage”—a concept built on and derived from object-oriented programming, which has roots going back almost as far as the mainframe itself—now offers a way to liberate mainframe data from its silo so it can reach its full potential to help organizations.

Combined with what is essentially commodity storage in the public cloud, mainframe organizations are finding a “best of both worlds” path forward—achieving renewal by eliminating pricey and slow VTLs and embracing, secure, recover-from-anywhere cloud object storage.

And this transition—a win-win for reducing costs and increasing value—is very achievable using Model9’s Cloud Data Manager for Mainframe. A software-only solution that works with cloud and leverages mainframe to move data more efficiently than has been possible natively in the past, Cloud Data Manager for Mainframe is a true game changer.

Model9’s Cloud Data Manager for Mainframe

While cloud is sometimes portrayed as almost the opposite of mainframe, it can in fact be leveraged as the ultimate mainframe peripheral, expandable on demand, and scalable to any degree needed. It is not Either/Or but AND. 

When a mainframe organization incorporates cloud as an integral part of its operations, using Cloud Data Manager for Mainframe, the benefits are numerous—reducing costs and enhancing performance on the one hand and opening new options for analytics and new business use cases on the other.

Cloud Data Sets: From Application to Cloud without Rewriting JCL

Cloud Data Sets (CDS) ends reliance on VTL. With CDS, tape datasets stored in the cloud can even be exported back to an on-premises environment when needed. Tape storage operations can be automatically redirected to the cloud without rewriting JCL and without any interim DASD disk space.

Take Advantage of Cloud Scalability and Flexibility

Freed from the limits imposed by on-prem storage and the limits of mainframe compute cycles committed to regular, mission-critical tasks, Mainframe-based organizations can become vastly more agile; applying all available corporate data to solving problems or launching new business initiatives. This is particularly important when the business needs ad hoc analysis to support an immediate goal. 

Cloud – when cloud has access to needed data – can deliver analytics rapidly, more rapidly than almost any comparable on-prem operation.

Faster Data Movement and Improved RTO / RPO

Model9 Cloud Data Manager for Mainframe uses zIIP engines to help move data faster both within and off of the mainframe, while offering better performance with compressed, parallel data transfer over TCP/IP.

In addition, a “use Import” policy can speed and automate migration of large amounts of data from tape to cloud.

The proof is in the performance

A mainframe-based information and analytics group based in the UK with approximately $10 billion in annual revenue, RELX is known as the world’s largest publisher of academic articles and databases, and as one of the world’s largest exhibition companies and a provider of electronic databases for legal information.

The organization was seeking to reduce billable MSU consumption from backup and space management operations, and sought to modernize the company data infrastructure and move toward a cloud-oriented model. Model9’s Cloud Data Manager for Mainframe allowed RELX to accelerate its move away from mainframe legacy storage towards a more cost-effective object storage.

Another organization, a US-based bank, found it could revolutionize its backup performance by shifting from an on-premises VTL-based backup that required an entire weekend to complete, to cloud-based object storage, which reduced the time required to just one hour and 11 minutes.

The key to this performance jump is writing in parallel, leveraging zIIP engines within the mainframe, and employing compression.

Don’t renew your VTL. Replace it with Model9’s cloud data management.

Moving from VTL to cloud-based object storage is a low-risk, and high-reward path to achieving faster results, overcoming the long-standing problems with mainframe storage, and leveraging well-known, well-understood, and well-proven technologies to address a chronic mainframe challenge.

This can yield immediate, concrete benefits such as reducing the amount of time it takes for you to backup and archive your mainframe data and cut costs while boosting capabilities. It’s an approach to renewal that is cost-effective and delivers rapid payback and clear strategic benefits.

About the author

Gil Peleg | CEO
Gil has over two decades of hands-on experience in mainframe system programming and data management, as well as a deep understanding of methods of operation, components, and diagnostic tools. Gil previously worked at IBM in the US and in Israel in mainframe storage development and data management practices as well as at Infinidat and XIV. He is the co-author of eight IBM Redbooks on z/OS implementation.
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