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Keeping Data Available

The secret to help maintain high availability, continuous operations and disaster recovery is the IBM Geographically Dispersed Open Clusters (GDOC).

Garry Nichols

The world of open systems provides great flexibility. However, it's a world still bound by the same demands for data accessibility as traditional mainframes since business data is a tactical and strategic tool. That means there's pressure on the IT department to keep systems up and running, ensuring that there's high availability (HA) of the system at all times and instituting disaster recovery (D/R).


That's a tall order for most mainframe systems. But it's even more challenging for open-systems architecture. What's the secret to help maintain HA, continuous operations and D/R? It's the IBM* Geographically Dispersed Open Clusters (GDOC) for open systems, a solution that owes its beginnings to IBM's Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex* (GDPS*) for mainframes.

GDOC is an open, multi-vendor solution that provides protection for applications run on UNIX*, Microsoft Windows* or Linux* technology. GDPS is a multi-vendor solution that's geared for business-critical applications that run on System z* technology. Each IBM solution is layered on top of system architectures to provide dual datacenter HA and D/R. GDOC, like GDPS, can help keep your company's critical business operations running and help curtail erosion of the company's bottom line that occurs when systems are out of commission.

GDOC and GDPS provide customers with on demand transformations by providing more responsive recovery solutions and guidance on what are best practices, reducing the complexity of recovery components and focusing on business processes instead of just the IT systems. In the financial sector, for example, companies don't expect to be without systems for very long. In many cases, the IT department needs to have systems up and running and data recovered in less than four hours following an outage. Customers who have deployed GDOC and GDPS find this to be very achievable.

GDPS Led the Way to GDOC

Since mainframe systems are a more mature segment, it's natural that the challenges of keeping those systems up and running were met more than 10 years ago. Since 1997, IBM customers have been relying on GDPS to safeguard their mainframe systems, providing a robust solution that masks outages and provides D/R. "Pain drives customers to action," says Charles Hinkle, GDPS and GDOC offering executive with IBM Global Technology Services. "Customers have experienced outages due to any number of reasons" and discovered how this affects their companies. Via its automation capabilities, GDPS streamlines and simplifies the process of setting up and performing local or remote recovery procedures that address HA or D/R requirements.

"One of the key components that's unique to GDPS is an offering called GDPS/PPRC HyperSwap Manager*," notes Hinkle. "That's a synchronous capability to switch from a PPRC primary to a PPRC secondary without having to re-IPL systems. This is a localized, high-availability solution for data that can be deployed within a single site or across sites limited to about 100 kilometers (60 miles) between the primary and secondary locations," he explains.

While GDPS/PPRC HyperSwap Manager gives customers data protection, it doesn't protect them from localized or regional outages such as server failures, blackouts, hurricanes or other disasters. That's where providing fully automated D/R with full-function GDPS architectures - supporting either synchronous or asynchronous environments - comes into play. "There are emerging legal and audit requirements that call for companies to have disaster capability to back up their critical business processes with aggressive recovery capabilities (for more information see "RPO/RTO Defined"). This is making it necessary to have a solution that automates the process of transferring these processes out of the area," Hinkle says.

But these days, the tactical and strategic challenges caused by outages call for GDPS to do more. "Companies need both long-haul disaster recovery and fault tolerance with high availability within the local environment. Those are two very different requirements," Hinkle says. "The GDPS three-site solutions are providing that to customers today."


Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at



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