BLOG: IBM DS8000 – The Market Leader for Mainframe Storage

December 14th, 2020 BLOG: IBM DS8000 – The Market Leader for Mainframe Storage

Bob Elliott
VP Storage Solutions


In today’s storage system environment, most savvy storage people are familiar with the market leaders. Dell/EMC has the overall lead in external storage (27% share1 ). NetApp leads in file-based products. HPE, who leads in server market share, has grown to over 10% of the storage market. Meanwhile, IBM, who has seen their share shrink year after year, appears to have turned things around. Just over a year ago, IBM’s share of the external storage market was down to just 2.5%2 . However, on the strength of the new FlashSystem family of products, IBM’s share has jumped to over 8%1. As if that isn’t enough to become bullish on IBM, 2020 has provided yet another area of market growth: their mainframe attached storage product, the IBM System Storage DS8000 series. Though the DS8000 supports both mainframe (FICON) and Fibre Channel environments, the primary growth for DS8000 has been in the mainframe world.


Mainframe Still Leads the Market for Storage

While many industry analysts discuss the end of the mainframe era, it is still the primary platform for 71% of Fortune 500 companies. 92% of the world’s top banks, 23 of the top 25 airlines, and 100% of the top 10 insurance companies need the mainframe’s massive computing power to stay in business3. With IBM owning 100% of the mainframe market, the only question becomes what storage these companies select.

The DS8000 was first introduced in 2004. This was a time when the FICON attached storage market was dominated by EMC. While data is not available, it is estimated that between 1996 and 2005 EMC held over 50% of the high-end market. Hitachi and IBM battled for the remaining share. Prior to the DS8000, IBM’s Enterprise Storage Server, also known as The Shark, had made some inroads into EMC’s dominance, but never quite lived up to expectations. However, the tide began to turn with the birth of the DS8000. By leveraging synergies between their top two hardware products (mainframe and storage), IBM began to take back the mainframe attached storage market. Today, providing features such as hyperswap, data protection, replication, tremendous scalability, and resiliency, IBM owns nearly 60%1 of the FICON attached market. This can be attributed to some of the following functionality:

1IDC 2Q20
2IDC 1Q19
3Computer Weekly May 2020

  • Patented caching algorithms help zOS and DB2 data to be in cache when it is needed.
  • zHyperlink (IBM exclusive) delivers 10x reduction in response time for DB2 and VSAM cache hits.
  • High performance FICON for z Systems (zHPF) improves response time, throughput, and 100% of IBM DB2 on DS8000 is zHPF eligible.
  • Cascading FlashCopy allows a target volume/dataset in one mapping to be the source volume/dataset in another mapping, creating a cascade of copied data. This provides the flexibility to obtain point-in-time copies of data from different places within the cascade.
  • 3-layer architecture uses the advanced processing power of POWER9 (Power Systems) cores to enable unique functions and the lowest response times in the IBM Z market.
  • Integration by design with IBM Z, IBM LinuxONE, and IBM Power Systems.
  • Multisite solutions are available through DS8000, the only mainframe storage that is supported by GDPS and CSM in 3- and 4-site configuration with one management interface with and without zHyperswap.


DS8000 Use Cases

Coupling these benefits with seven 9s of availability as well as features like Safeguarded Copy, which helps protect data from cyber attacks, it is clear why many of Mainline’s top customers choose the IBM DS8000 platform.

  • One of our large financial customers has deployed four IBM DS8950F systems in a two-site z/OS GDPS configuration. This configuration ensures full redundancy and failover from one data center to the other in addition to providing the customer the capability to non-disruptively vary production between data centers.
  • Another Mainline customer in the insurance industry utilizes the IBM DS8910F to support their mission-critical applications such as policy writing and claims management. In addition, they run IBM Global Mirror to a disaster recovery provider’s IBM DS8000. This Global Mirror configuration provides business continuity in the event of a disaster at their production data center.


Growth and Investment

As the market leader, IBM continues to invest in the DS8000 platform to provide greater value to its clients. To put the growth of the DS8000 in perspective, the original DS8000 had a maximum capacity of 200TB and weighed over 5000 lbs. In comparison, the current DS8000 model, DS8900F, has a capacity of 5.9PB and weighs just 3,200 lbs. Additionally, the value derived from the DS8000 is not just limited to hardware advances. As stated before, IBM not only leverages the synergies of the DS8000 with its System Z mainframe platform, it makes use of its other technologies such as POWER9 in the core of the DS8000.

While IBM continues to invest in the DS8000 platform, Mainline continues to invest in IBM Storage. Mainline’s technical team includes 20+ storage engineers, most of whom spent their early careers with IBM supporting clients from coast to coast. We also hold more than 50 IBM storage certifications and maintain IBM Platinum Partner status, the highest level available in the IBM Partner Program.

More Information

In summary, in a year with many unknowns and much uncertainty, IBM continues to make use of their vast resources to bring their clients a constantly improving, market-leading product known as the DS8000. For more information on storage solutions, contact your Mainline Account Representative directly, or reach out to us with any questions.

VLOG: (2:09) Pervasive Encryption with IBM DS8900 and Mainframe z15

BLOG: Cybersecurity and the IBM DS8000

VLOG: (1:32) IBM DS8880 SafeGuarded Copy

BLOG: IBM DS8000 Safeguarded Copy – Protecting Data

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *