Mainframe Storage

Introducing the new IBM DS8900F

By Tony Pearson posted Tue October 01, 2019 09:06 PM


Chris Vollmar Christopher Vollmar
IBM Storage Architect supporting customers in Canada and the Caribbean


Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!

These last few weeks saw some pretty significant action, the [IBM z15], and with that the [IBM DS8900F] as well. The DS8900F is the next in DS8000 family with even more features to support performance and security. It is built off the IBM POWER9 processor technology, the same processors that run in [Summit and Sierra], the two most powerful supercomputers in the world.


The new [DS8900F] series introduces two new classes for clients to leverage, the Flexibility class leveraging the DS8910F, and the Agility class with the DS8950F. These two classes provide a variety of configuration options and introduce new capabilities in the physical design and the functions available.

  • DS8910F Rack Mounted - provides clients the option to leverage their existing racks for this storage solution. With its different configuration options it can take up as little as 15U of contiguous rack space, or as much as 20U of contiguous rack space. As a bonus, just like the DS8882F model, this model also has the ability to be racked in an IBM LinuxONE or IBM Z system.
  • DS8910F Racked Solution - provides clients with the same capacity for POWER9 cores and power options, however it comes as an IBM rack integrated storage subsystem. It also provides for up to 2.5PB of Flash Storage as well as up to 64 host ports.
  • DS8950F - is also a racked solution, but provides for even more scalability with the optional expansion frame.

Here is a quick comparison table:

Offering DS8910F rack-mounted DS8910F racked DS8950F
Controller model 993 994 996
Expansion model N/A N/A E96
Power9 cores 16 16 20 to 40
System Cache 192GB to 512GB 192GB to 512GB 512GB to 2,048GB
Flash cards 16 to 96 16 to 192 16 to 384
Maximum physical capacity 1.5PB 2.95PB 5.9PB
Host ports 4 to 32 4 to 64 4 to 128
Number of frames N/A 1 1 or 2

One option that has been added to the new DS8900 platform is the 32Gb FC Host Adapter. It can support both FCP and FICON as you would expect, and it can auto-negotiate between 32Gb, 16Gb and 8Gb connectivity. At 32Gb and 16Gb speeds it also has the capability to perform Forward Error Correction (FEC). It can also enable Encryption of Data in Flight (EDiF) for FC Endpoint Security.

Flash card sizes range from as 800GB to 15.36TB capacities.

Now, lets talk about some of the capabilities, and security is a huge focus. Some of those highlights include;

Cyber Resilience with Safeguarded Copy

Using Safeguarded Copy, the IBM DS8900F prevents data from being modified or deleted due to user errors, malicious destruction or ransomware attacks with immutable point in time copies of production data and dual management control for increased security.

This new technology provides immutable points of data recovery that are hidden and protected from being modified or deleted due to user errors, malicious destruction, or ransomware attacks.These immutable copies are a trusted and secure source of data that can be used for a forensic analysis, or a surgical or catastrophic recovery.

For increased security, Safeguarded Copy provides dual management control and can be integrated with different disaster recovery and high availability configurations

Transparent integration to Hybrid cloud for IBM Z

IBM DS8900F enables an Hybrid Multicloud architecture as a new storage tier for backup and archive operations on IBM Z environments with no impact to IO performance and without the need of additional servers or gateways.

Transparent Cloud Tiering (TCT) protects data with AES-256bit encryption and provides significant savings in mainframe CPU utilization when migrating large data sets. TCT integrates with IBM Cloud Object Storage and can also provide transparent connectivity to IBM Cloud, Amazon S3 and an IBM TS7700 configured as an object storage target.

Secure authentication across trusted systems

As I mentioned above, using the new 32Gb FC Host Adapters, unique IBM technology makes data only accessible by authorized systems. The authentication ensures data is accessed only by trusted IBM Z, LinuxONE and DS8900F Systems, and provides for Encryption for data in-flight within and across data centers without application changes and without consuming IBM Z CPU resources.

IBM Fibre Channel Endpoint Security provides the authentication and encryption capabilities required for Data Privacy Passports and there is no performance impact on IBM Z or DS8900F to implement. In essence, links are authenticated such that a rogue, unauthorized host cannot gain access to data on DS8900F and unauthorized storage devices cannot connect to IBM Z and receive data. This is supported for z/OS, z/VM, and Linux on Z.

Ultra-low application response times

the IBM DS8900F moves performance to the next level with storage latencies as low as 18 microseconds for IBM Z with zHyperLink technology, 90 microseconds for distributed environments and a 50% reduction in transaction time for Db2 workloads based on IBM testing.

Storage Media that's encryption capable

all the flash options on the DS8900 are encryption capable. Data is always encrypted on writes to Flash media and then decrypted on read, and the media does the encryption at full data rate so it will not impact response times.

Data in flight can be encrypted by using Pervasive Encryption or Fibre Channel Endpoint Security (as mentioned above). Key management can be handled by IBM Security Key Lifecycle Manager (SKLM) or other KMIP compliant key manager.

If you want to learn more about the IBM DS8900 and its integration with IBM Z15 and IBM POWER systems you can also watch this [announcement video].

If you read our blog post [Storage Insights for Spectrum Control], and are looking to leverage Storage Insights, then you'll be happy to hear that the DS8900 is supported.

If your looking for some in-person sessions on the new DS8900, consider attending one of the [IBM Systems Technical University] events.