Available for 5 years, installed in more than 200 LPARs in 12 countries, you certainly already know the ‘Flash for i’ product. It brings to the IBM i the extremely powerful SnapShot/FlashCopy function (instant copy) of the external storage units.
Mainly the usages of such a product were to completely automate the creation of a clone of your IBM i partition, and on this clone partition to do:
- a daily Save almost without interruption of Users and Jobs (with or without BRMS)
Note: some users are now making daily Save21 instead of doing classic backups. Cloning all the disks of the system ASP (and/or the independent ASP’s) takes generally less than 2 minutes, so here is no reason not to make a full system backup from the cloned partition as there are no time constraints on this cloned partition…
- off-line data extraction, for example to feed a DataWarehouse.
- many copies (clones) every day to be able to recover in case of a Database corruption (= degradation caused by a program bug, damaged files, deletion of tables by clumsiness or by constructive malice, malware …).
Note: IBM’s external storage OS (called ‘IBM Spectrum Virtualize software’) offers another extremely powerful function called “Reverse FlashCopy”. That means, that using some specific commands you can ask to the storage to reverse the Production disks to the Cloned disks… This “swap” is instantaneous, and your Clone partition can immediately become the Production partition, while in the background the storage copies a large amount of real data from Prod to Cloned disks.
Years after years customers usage change and the new version 4 facilitates this evolution; ‘Flash for i’ v4 enhances the ability to automate the creation of a complete NEW partition in order to use it for many “long term” uses and not any more just to do a backup or a data extraction. The potential New partition could be :
- a TESTS, VALIDATION, PRE-PRODUCTION partition, with different users, profiles, IP address, scheduled jobs, tools, management subsystems, qstrup, etc, etc. It allows you to refresh completely your ‘test’ partitions globally in less than one hour.
Note: another clever ‘IBM Spectrum Virtualize software’ function is to allow “cascade cloning”. With it (and ‘Flash for i’) you can clone your production disks, then start an anonymisation process (with a third party product) on the New clone partition, then you have a “reference anonymised partition” on your disks (still occupying little space). And you can then clone this partition again to provide refreshed partitions with anonymised data to different teams : developers, testers, validators,… (3 more clones in this example).
- an “Infocenter partition” where selected users can do Queries/SQL requests on that “static” cloned partition. A hidden interest is also that you can manage the priority of this “Infocenter partition” and relieve the prod partition of a very consuming activity.
Another interesting usage is to ask to ‘Flash for i’ to clone the replicated (or mirrored) disks on the HA server. ‘Flash for i’ can then configure the Cloned partition so that users can run tests on it to validate the accuracy of the replication/mirroring, without stopping the replication/mirroring process and without the need for a role-swap… The completeness of the tests is not as good as with a role-swap, but it is much more easy to organise.
Secondarily, the version 4 provides support of other manufacturers than IBM. From now EMC vMax/PowerMax storage and PureStorage FlashArray are running behind IBM i with ‘Flash for i’.
Other new features are also available as:
- the possibility to define one of the partitions as a central management partition
- the support of the IBM product for external backup : “IBM Cloud Storage Solutions for IBM i” (5733-ICC)
- a more extensive monitoring/alerting function
But it will be the opportunity to write a new article …
Pascal Ruckebusch, CTO of M81, will present the ‘Flash for i’ v4 product during a Webinar on Tuesday 9 of March at 2:30 PM. Find the registering link on www.m81.eu/news