IBM i users are not exactly used to making fundamental changes to their operating environments. It's not that they are averse to innovation—quite the opposite in fact. But with the core functionality of the platform remaining robust and reliable through the years, there has been little need or incentive to move away from their tried and true management methods. One emerging practice that may be worth investigating, however, is the establishment and integration of a storage area network or SAN.
IBM i has been dutifully powering data center operations for decades, providing a trusted source of strength as its parent company continuously rebranded the servers it was running on. In this time, and particularly within the last few years, the demands placed on these platforms have exponentially grown. With the effects of big data trickling down into the IT department of companies of all sizes, efficiency has taken on added importance.
Most notably, storage virtualization techniques have emerged to help drive unprecedented utilization rates and promote simplified, centralized management in the face of growing workloads. By establishing a storage area network that virtualizes all server images onto a solitary device, administrators can consolidate their total hardware footprint and make more efficient use of their resources.
The benefits of this model extend far beyond cost control and ease of operation, however. By tapping into PowerVM capabilities, IBM i users can now dynamically allocate their resources by manipulating live partitions. In increasingly crowded and complex environments, this flexible orchestration can be incredibly valuable.
Take, for instance, the example of planned downtime. To limit the operational impact of necessary improvements and upgrades, administrators can gather up the mission-critical applications running on the affected server and redistribute them across separate virtual machines connected to the same storage area network. As a result, IT teams can take their time to focus on maintenance tasks without fear of users complaining about performance degradation. Better still, they may no longer have to wait around for nights and weekends to perform their handiwork.
The benefits of SAN should be lower cost of ownership of disk and great flexibility in maintenance and items like backups. Administrators can replicate parts of the SAN without causing downtime for the end users.
So although IBM i loyalists may feel pretty confident in the procedures they've been holding onto over the years, isn't it worth considering a subtle change that could keep end users happy and IT teams looking smart?