Tip

StorageTek has a great idea with SnapVantage

StorageTek announced a new software product called SnapVantage that enables rapid deployment and management of multiple Linux virtual servers on IBM zSeries mainframe servers using the StorageTek Shared Virtual Array (SVA).

This StorageTek announcement provides the capability to quickly deploy new instantiations of Linux virtual servers on IBM zSeries mainframes. The Linux virtual servers operate under IBM's VM (Virtual Machine) operating system. IBM's VM operating system that exists in two forms, VM/ESA and zVM, has been in use for 35 years and is deployed with 9,400 licenses around the world. Using Linux virtual servers has given VM a new mission where large server deployments can economically be deployed and managed using centralized resources. In this announcement, the resources are IBM mainframe servers, VM operating system, Linux operating systems from various vendors and the StorageTek SVA.

The SnapVantage software provides the management capability for creation of Linux virtual servers and deployment with the use of the SnapShot capability that comes with the Shared Virtual Array disk storage system. In addition to creation and deployment, additional management functions enable more centralized administration of the Linux virtual server environment.

Linux virtual server creation and deployment

The creation of a Linux virtual server is done by creating a directory entry for VM and making a clone of the system, which would

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be a copy of the disk storage used by the operating system, and all the associated files, which comprise the virtual server. To do this, SnapVantage provides a Graphical User Interface that works in conjunction with a disconnected virtual machine that provides a service function. Using the GUI, an administrator can choose to clone types (or models) of Linux servers such as Web servers, Oracle databases, print servers, domain servers or standard servers. The SnapVantage tool will create a new server, allow a server name to be specified and then assign an IP address from a pool of available addresses. The next major function is the cloning that is done using the point-in-time copy function of the SVA called SnapShot. With the log-structured file system implementation of the SVA architecture, a SnapShot does not require any additional space – only new data for that volume is written to new locations – and can be done almost instantaneously since only pointer and table manipulation is done to make the copy. This allows for very quick deployment of additional Linux virtual servers and very simple administration.

Evaluator Group comments:

The ease and simplicity of the GUI for SnapVantage are such that no specific training should be required. The definition of an administrator here changes to be one based on responsibility rather than a trained storage professional. The actual creation tasks show that the entire process is done within 27 seconds, which is incredible for deployment of a complete new server system.

Administration tasks

In addition to the creation and deployment of Linux virtual servers, the SnapVantage GUI provides additional management capabilities for administering the virtual servers in the VM environment.

Linux server administration – Server administrative functions such as boot or shutdown, user management, software maintenance, displays of processes and log messages and disk management are made available.

Monitor critical VM performance criteria – VM performance can be monitored by displays of information regarding CPU statistics, paging activity, user activity, disk activity, etc.

VM server administration – Additional VM functions that aid in administration of the Linux virtual servers such as configuration, disk queries, debug, etc. can be performed through the GUI.

SVA administration functions – The Shared Virtual Array can be administered through the GUI as well, performing functions such as monitoring net capacity load (disk capacity), controlling the physical and logical devices, interface monitoring and control and other management activities.

Evaluator Group comments:

StorageTek has a great idea. The deployment of Linux virtual servers under VM on IBM mainframe architectures has been a focus for IBM and has been embraced in many environments such as universities, Telcos, xSP's, etc. It leverages the ability to deploy thousands of Linux servers with tremendous reduction in administrative (and product) costs using the virtual machine concept. And, the overall reliability and stability of the IBM environment far exceeds anything else available. StorageTek brings another level of automation to this environment with SnapVantage and with the self-managed SVA storage system. The exploitation of SnapShot (instantaneous volume copy without duplicate space required) provides significant advantage to the customer in both the product cost and administrative cost. This is really a new capability that doesn't have any effective competition.

Another great aspect of this product is that it addresses a market segment where StorageTek is typically very strong: the enterprise data center market with IBM storage systems. It allows the use of the SVA with its beneficial SnapShot and virtual device storage capabilities in a mainframe environment where it is well known. The SVA is well suited for this application and should provide great economic benefit.

StorageTek has found a great environment to continue to exploit the SVA and has produced a very valuable software function, SnapVantage that will serve this application well.

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This was first published in July 2002

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