Q

Can multiple mainframes share IBM tape storage?

I want to share a tape drive between the IBM System z mainframe and other IBM systems. Are there prerequisites for tape drive sharing?

Portioning up a tape drive for multiple systems vastly improves utilization, keeping new drives out of the data center's expenditures. And there is a way to share tape storage across multiple mainframes.

IBM tape storage can be shared via its Tape Controller Model C07 for System z mainframes. The C07 handles up to four 4 Gbps Fiber Connectivity (FICON) attachments -- the company's proprietary take on Fibre Channel connections for mainframes. The controller also supports up to four standard 8 Gbps Fibre Channel connections for tape drives or Fibre Channel switches.

The C07 handles as many as 16 IBM tape drives, including the TS1140 Model E07 and older tape drive models like the 3592 E06/EU6 and 3592 E05. Controllers like the C07 allow multiple mainframes to share multiple tape drives, and the drives can interface to Fibre Channel for storage-area network connectivity.

You may need to upgrade systems to meet the C07's requirements. It needs space in a rack and access to IBM's TotalStorage System Console. Verify interoperability between the C07 and any Fibre Channel switches in the storage network.

Without adequate FICON and Fibre Channel cabling of a suitable length and type, connectivity between drives, mainframes and the storage network will suffer. There could also be software updates and licenses required for tape drive and C07 controller support. This depends on the current operating systems and licensing schemes in the data center.

If you're considering a C07 or another tape controller, IBM provides extensive hardware and software requirement information in device documentation, such as "IBM System Storage 3592-C07 Controller Customer Information Center."

The IBM System z can also utilize TS1140 tape drives or other products in combination with tape controller subsystems to deploy multiple high-capacity tape drives at once for intense storage applications.

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This was first published in August 2014

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