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IBM, HDS renew vows

IBM and HDS extend their technology licensing agreement to one another's mainframe systems, storage and software, bringing new levels of interoperability to users.

IBM and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) announced that they have reached a joint technology licensing agreement relating to one another's mainframe systems, storage and software. The goal of the deal is to bring new levels of interoperability to customers connecting HDS storage to IBM zSeries mainframes.

Specifically, the agreement calls for IBM to license the FICON/ESCON attachment specification for the DS8000 and Enterprise Storage Server, or "Shark" platform, to HDS, whose Lightning and TagmaStore storage platforms also connect to zSeries mainframes. That should help users running applications such as IBM's

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Global and Metro Mirroring capabilities, z/OS Global Mirror, FlashCopy, Parallel Access Volumes and Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex (GDPS) in conjunction with HDS storage platforms.

This isn't the first time IBM and HDS have signed a technology licensing agreement. Another agreement was signed in 2001, and it has been renewed every year. But according to Claus Mikkelsen, senior director of storage applications at HDS, "in 2001, we exchanged our IP [intellectual property] and the engineering specs, and pretty much went on our merry way after that."

The latest agreement calls for "more ongoing updates," said Charlie Andrews, IBM director for TotalStorage. "The intent is to work on continued interoperability." To that end, both companies will be actively testing products with one another, Mikkelsen said.

IBM has a similar technology licensing agreement with EMC Corp., the other main purveyor of mainframe storage with its Symmetrix platform. The agreements in place are similar, IBM's Andrews said, "but not with this scope." However, Andrews did not preclude EMC and IBM coming to more extensive technology licensing agreements going forward.

Despite the work HDS and IBM have already done around exchanging mainframe-related IP, things do not always run smoothly in joint IBM-HDS environments. One example is IBM's GDPS, which allows a mainframe to failover in the case of a disaster, Mikkelsen said. If it is to work properly, "the underlying scripts have to be sensitive to [IBM's] FlashCopy or [HDS'] ShadowImage, and work seamlessly across the two platforms." But today, "that's not always a given."

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