Wednesday, December 2, 2015

An introduction to the DS8880 - The Next Generation of the DS8000

About a month ago, IBM announced the new generation of the DS8800 : 'IBM DS8880 delivers faster performance than the previous DS8000 models with the reliability and availability to support digital business'. As usual there's one announcement about the software licences (ZG15-0234) and four announcements depending on the duration of the warranty : 1 year (ZG15-0235), 2 years (ZG15-0238), 3 years (ZG15-0236) and 4 years (ZG12-0237). And as they become available by the end of the week, this is a nice opportunity to give you an update on the DS8000.

As you can see the successor of the DS8870 is the TS8880 and the '8' indicates that we are moving on from the Power7 processor to the Power8 processor. No more Business and Enterprise Model but two plain different models : DS8884 and DS8886, DS8884 being the smaller model and DS8886 being the larger model. And to annoy you with some more 'numbers', they both have the same Machine Type 238x (x ranging from 1 to 4 standing for the duration of the warranty) but the base frame model numbers (981 for the DS8886 and 980 for the DS8884) and the expansion frame model numbers (98E for the DS8886 and 98B for the DS8884) are different. There will also be an all Flash model announced in the first half of 2016 being the DS8888.

But do let's have a look at the boxes themselves. I cannot touch on everything but let me give you a bit of an overview of the new elements that caught my attention. Here's what I'll be talking about
  • The new form factor of 19''
  • Performance improvements
  • New HMC(s)
  • New Power characteristics
  • Changes in Licensing !
  • Replacement of TPC-R
  • Changes in Call Home functionalities 

The new form factor

The new DS888x no longer has a specific form factor but it complies to the industry standard 19'' rack. This does not mean however that you can order your own rack. The rack is still a dedicated DS8000 rack and it's always delivered along with the DS888x. But it should make planning in the data center somewhat easier of course. On the picture you see a DS8886 with one extra frame that can also contain host adapters. So, apart from its different shape, it looks pretty much familiar for those who have already an older version of the DS8000. Apart from the HMC perhaps, but I'll come back to that in a minute.

Performance improvements

Performance is always a tricky one, so I only give you one example of performance improvement on Sequential Reads. Sequential writes even show an improvement of two times compared to the DS88870. What are the main elements that contribute to this improvement ? First of all the new, more powerful Power8 engine of course and for the larger systems the mere fact that you can now have a maximum of 24 cores instead of 16. But there's also the use of the simultaneous multithreading (SMT) mode which enables "the POWER8 processor to maximize the throughput of the processor core and to offer more threads than competing processor technologies". Internally, the connectivity to the I/O Bay Enclosures (to the host adapters) is now evolved from PCiE Gen 2 to PCiE Gen 3, which gives your throughput an extra boost.
Overall this should generally give a doubled I/O throughput and 50% more IOPS.

New HMC(s)

The laptop PC as we knew it, is replaced by a mini PC at the bottom of the rack. On the picture you can see how the keyboard and display slide out from the rack. You can also order a second HMC within the same frame. Mind you, this has two implications. It means that a secondary HMC as an external HMC is no longer an option. This also implicates that you can no longer share a second, remote,  HMC between DS8000s, as some customers do nowadays.

New Power characteristics
I guess this one is particulary important for our European market since we tend to have 3-phase power. Don't shoot me if I say anything stupid about power, because, just like math, this is a blind spot in my brain. And falling from the stairs didn't actually help me here to suddenly see the light (pun not intended). But serious now, from now on, there's only a single power option available on the DS888x and a possible input voltage between 200 V and 240 V. More info in the Introduction and Planning Guide.

Changes in Licensing !

The licensing has ondergone a quite drastical change with the new DS888x series. You only have three licenses left of which two are optional. Here's an overview of how the licenses are split up.
  • Base function license
    • OEL
    • Thin Provisioning
    • Easy Tier
    • Database Protection
    • Encryption
    • I/O Priority Manager
  • Copy Services license (optional)
    • FlashCopy
    • Metro Mirror
    • Global Mirror
    • Metro/Global Mirror
    • Multi-Target PPRC
    • z/OS Global Mirror (XRC)
    • z/OS Global Mirror Resync
  • System z synergy license (optional)
    • FICON
    • System z High Performance FICON (zHPF)
    • PAV and HyperPAV
    • IBM z/OS Distributed Data Backup
You can compare the Base function license with the former OEL function. It is required for the entire raw capacity of the box. But there's no extra choice for e.g. 'Thin Provisioning'. It's immediately included in the Base fucntion license as well as all the other components mentioned in the overview.
As far as pricing is concerned you buy this license via Tiers. You have 10 Tier1 'units' I'll call them each of which is worth 10TB for the range from 1TB to 100TB. A machine with e.g. 81TB requires 9 Tier1 units. Then we have Tier2 units which are worth 15TB and this goes up to Tier7 units with a value of 500TB. So for a box with 192TB, you'll need 10 Tier1 units and 7 Tier2 units. Actually, to me it looks a lot like the tiering we also find in MLC pricing. And yes, also on the pricing level.

For the Copy Services the license is pretty straightforward : the license includes all copy services and the pricing follows the same tiering mechanism as with the Base license. However, there's one major difference, it is not based on raw capacity but on usable capacity. And the amount of TB you are buying is the sum of the amount of FB and CKD storage that's really involved in some copy services. So in our 192TB example, if you have 96TB CKD storage and 96TB of FB storage and only 25TB of usable capacity of CKD storage and 30TB of FB storage is involved in copy activities, then you only order 55TB which will be rounded to 6 Tier1 units representing 60TB. So this is far more flexible than the previous licensing.

The System z Synergy license is bought for the total amount of physical capacity that is configured for CKD. So that is again physical capacity instead of usable capacity.

Replacement of TPC-R
The Copy Services Manager (CSM) is a new product based on the TPC-R product technology and replacing it. It has at least the same functionalities as TPC-R and there's a migration possible towards CSM. Existing TPC-R customers are entitled to CSM. They will have to order CSM though. The migration has the following phases : Install CSM, Export TPC-R data base, Import the data base into CSM and then Stop TPC-R. For first time users there's a try&buy option so you can test the product for a limited time frame.

Changes in Call Home functionalities 
Internet VPN Support and Modem (AT&T) support are withdrawn and are no longer supported. For outbound call-home functions you have Internet SSL, Assist OnSite (AOS) or FTP (for bulk data only). For inbound call-home functions you have Internet SSL and Assist OnSite (AOS).

And let me conclude with some documentation.
The DS8880 IBM webpage is over here. From the products details tab you can engage on a DS8880 3D Product tour or just read the Datasheet. There's also a 30-page Draft Redbook called 'IBM DS8880 Product Guide' that gives you a good general technical introduction.

General Availability : December 4, 2015.


Nick Clayton said...

One important point on the Copy Services license for anyone using over provisioning is that the maximum Copy Services license required will be the usable capacity of the entire DS8000 even if the logical capacity of all volumes doing Copy Services is greater than this.

Nick Clayton
IBM Systems Development

Marc Wambeke said...

Thank you for this clarification, Nick. This makes sense.