Author: Cindy Hollenbach

ATS Group Named One of 2019 Tech Elite Solution Providers by CRN

Malvern, PA | March 25, 2019 – Advanced Technology Services (ATS) Group (developers of Galileo Performance Explorer) announced today that CRN, a brand of The Channel Company, has named ATS Group to its 2019 Tech Elite 250 list. This annual list honors a select group of North American IT solution providers that have earned the highest number of advanced technical certifications from leading technology suppliers, scaled to their company size. These companies have distinguished themselves with multiple, top-level IT certifications, specializations, and partner program designations from the industry’s most prestigious technology providers.

To compile this annual list, The Channel Company’s research group and CRN editors work together to identify the most customer-beneficial technical certifications in the North American IT channel. Companies who have earned these elite designations— which enable solution providers to deliver premium products, services and customer support—are then selected from a pool of online applicants.

“CRN’s Tech Elite 250 list recognizes solution providers with extensive technical knowledge and premier certifications,” said Bob Skelley, CEO of The Channel Company. “Pursuit of vendor certifications and broader skill sets in a wide range of technologies and IT practices, proves a solution provider is committed to delivering maximum business value from those technologies and giving their customers the highest level of service.”

Coverage of the Tech Elite 250 will be featured in the April issue of CRN, and online at www.CRN.com/TechElite250.

About ATS Group

As new tech emerges offering business advantages, enterprises need support and expertise that will enable them to reap the benefits. Based near Philadelphia, the ATS Group offers agile services aligned with modern IT innovations, providing a critical competitive edge. For almost 20 years, our consultants have worked together to provide independent and objective technical advice, creative infrastructure consulting and managed support services for organizations of all sizes. Our specialists help clients store, protect, and manage their data, while optimizing performance and efficiency. The ATS Group specializes in server and storage system integration, containerized workloads, high performance computing (HPC), software defined infrastructure, DevOps, data protection and storage management, cloud consulting, infrastructure performance management and real-time monitoring for cloud, on-premises and hybrid solutions. The ATS Group supports solutions from today’s top IT vendors including IBM, VMware, Oracle, AWS, Microsoft, Cisco, Lenovo, Pure Storage and Red Hat.

Follow ATS Group: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook

About The Channel Company

The Channel Company enables breakthrough IT channel performance with our dominant media, engaging events, expert consulting and education and innovative marketing services and platforms. As the channel catalyst, we connect and empower technology suppliers, solution providers and end users. Backed by more than 30 years of unequalled channel experience, we draw from our deep knowledge to envision innovative new solutions for ever-evolving challenges in the technology marketplace. www.thechannelcompany.com

Follow The Channel Company: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook

Copyright ©2019. CRN is a registered trademark of The Channel Company, LLC.  All rights reserved.

Advanced Technology Services (ATS) Group Achieves IBM Platinum Partner Status

Malvern, PA | March 11, 2019 – Advanced Technology Services (ATS) Group of Malvern, PA, announced today their achievement of Platinum status in the IBM PartnerWorld program as a direct result of both strategy and visionary alignment to IBM. Earning the highest tier within the PartnerWorld program, Platinum Business Partners consistently demonstrate proven capabilities and expertise in IBM technologies to help their clients succeed in their digital transformation initiatives.

IBM’s new, four-tiered PartnerWorld program moves Business Partners from a product-centric model to one focused on competencies, customer satisfaction and revenue. Organizations achieve the Platinum level by earning at least two competencies (one at the Expert level), attaining significant sales success, demonstrating client satisfaction and verifying multiple client references.

For almost 20 years, ATS Group has provided independent and objective technical advice, creative infrastructure consulting and managed support services for organizations of all sizes. Our subject-matter experts help clients store, protect and manage their data, while optimizing performance and efficiency through their IT capacity management solution, Galileo Performance Explorer. Our team of experts are driven by the relentless pace of innovation, and our approach sets us apart. Our vast knowledge and unique service capabilities are constantly evolving to meet the needs of today’s data-intensive infrastructures.

Our clients have the confidence of knowing they are teaming up with an IBM Business Partner that consistently delivers the highest possible levels of excellence through both innovation and support services. We’re dedicated to ongoing technical excellence, and our passion and proficiency for leveraging IBM storage, systems and cloud shows in all of our successful initiatives.

This success and our dedication to the IBM partnership is highlighted in our recognitions, successful customer implementations and trained resources.

About ATS Group

As new tech emerges offering business advantages, enterprises need support and expertise that will enable them to reap the benefits. Based near Philadelphia, ATS Group offers agile services aligned with modern IT innovations, providing a critical competitive edge. For almost 20 years, our consultants have worked together to provide independent and objective technical advice, creative infrastructure consulting and managed support services for organizations of all sizes.

Our specialists help clients store, protect, and manage their data, while optimizing performance and efficiency. The ATS Group specializes in server and storage system integration, containerized workloads, high performance computing (HPC), software defined infrastructure, DevOps, data protection and storage management, cloud consulting, infrastructure performance management and real-time monitoring for cloud, on-premises and hybrid solutions. The ATS Group supports solutions from today’s top IT vendors including IBM, VMware, Oracle, AWS, Microsoft, Cisco, Lenovo, Pure Storage and Red Hat.

ATS Group Recognized for Excellence in Managed IT Services in CRN’s 2019 MSP 500

Malvern, PA | February 19, 2019 – Advanced Technology Services (ATS) Group, announced today that CRN, a brand of The Channel Company, has named ATS Group to its 2019 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Pioneer 250 category. This annual list recognizes North American solution providers with innovative approaches to managed services. These services help customers improve operational efficiencies, maximize return on IT investments, and continuously help them navigate the complexities of IT solutions.

Managed service providers are integral to the success of businesses everywhere. They empower companies to implement and operate complex technologies while staying within their budgets and keeping focus on their core business. CRN’s MSP 500 list identifies the most groundbreaking managed service organizations, with advanced solutions that have endless potential for growth.

This annual list is divided into three categories: the MSP Pioneer 250, recognizing companies with business models weighted toward managed services and largely focused on the SMB market; the MSP Elite 150, recognizing large, data center-focused MSPs with a strong mix of on-premises and off-premises services; and the Managed Security 100, recognizing MSPs focused primarily on off-premises, cloud-based security services.

ATS Group is a leading-edge technology and software consulting company. We treat our customers as our partners. The ATS team stays abreast of technical trends, and we educate ourselves constantly… not for the hype of it, but for the advancements in business success that it can bring to our customers. Therefore, this year we chose to enhance our offerings with advanced data analytics, DevOps and automation, continued Cloud expertise, containers and real-time alerting.

“Capable MSPs enable companies to take their cloud computing to the next level, streamline spending, effectively allocate limited resources and navigate the vast field of available technologies,” said Bob Skelley, CEO of The Channel Company. “The companies on CRN’s 2019 MSP 500 list stand out for their innovative services, excellence in adapting to customers’ changing needs and demonstrated ability to help businesses get the most out of their IT investments.”

The MSP 500 list will be featured in the February 2019 issue of CRN and online at www.CRN.com/msp500.

About ATS Group

As new tech emerges offering business advantages, enterprises need support and expertise that will enable them to reap the benefits. Based near Philadelphia, the ATS Group offers agile services aligned with modern IT innovations, providing a critical competitive edge. For almost 20 years, our consultants have worked together to provide independent and objective technical advice, creative infrastructure consulting and managed support services for organizations of all sizes. Our specialists help clients store, protect, and manage their data, while optimizing performance and efficiency. The ATS Group specializes in server and storage system integration, containerized workloads, high performance computing (HPC), software defined infrastructure, DevOps, data protection and storage management, cloud consulting, infrastructure performance management and real-time monitoring for cloud, on-premises and hybrid solutions. The ATS Group supports solutions from today’s top IT vendors including IBM, VMware, Oracle, AWS, Microsoft, Cisco, Lenovo, Pure Storage and Red Hat.

Follow ATS Group: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook

About The Channel Company

The Channel Company enables breakthrough IT channel performance with our dominant media, engaging events, expert consulting and education and innovative marketing services and platforms. As the channel catalyst, we connect and empower technology suppliers, solution providers and end users. Backed by more than 30 years of unequalled channel experience, we draw from our deep knowledge to envision innovative new solutions for ever-evolving challenges in the technology marketplace. www.thechannelco.com

Follow The Channel Company: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook

Point of View | IBM FlashSystem 9100 Combines Performance of NVMe and Capability of Spectrum Virtualize

Point of View | IBM FlashSystem 9100 Combines Performance of NVMe and Capability of Spectrum Virtualize

IBM’s FlashSystem 900 is a high-performing all-flash array. If you want extremely low latency for your application, this is the box for you. However, if you want advanced functionality, such as data replication, sub-volume tiering, or point-in-time copies, you need something more than a FlashSystem 900. One solution might be to place your FlashSystem 900 behind an IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) cluster. This is a proven solution, providing SVC’s feature-rich Spectrum Virtualize software stack and FlashSystem’s performance in 6U of rack space.

But what if IBM combined these two products, threw in Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe), and put it all in one tidy package? With the new FlashSystem 9100, IBM has done just that. It combines the robust feature set of the Spectrum Virtualize software stack with the extreme performance of FlashSystem, in just a 2U rack footprint. The benefits of this marriage are many; let’s discuss a few of them.

Hardware Performance

The flash drives in the FlashSystem 9100 control enclosure are connected via Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe). NVMe is an efficient storage protocol, with less overhead than previous protocols such as SCSI. A future code upgrade will allow the FlashSystem 9100 to provide NVMe over Fiber Channel (FC-NVMe); the hardware is capable today. This is a significant advancement, as it makes use of the NVMe protocol between the storage system and the host, eliminating the overhead of SCSI on the host side. High SCSI workloads can consume significant CPU resources on the host. NVMe is designed to be significantly more efficient, allowing higher workloads and deeper queues, with lower CPU utilization than SCSI.

FlashSystem 9100 can be outfitted with either industry standard NVMe drives, or IBM FlashCore Modules. FlashCore Modules have hardware-based compression built in, which imposes no performance penalty. This can provide significant capacity savings with no impact on throughput or latency. Customers can get a savings guarantee from IBM… up to 5:1 if IBM can analyze the customer’s data, and even 2:1 with no data analysis.

Software Capabilities

Hardware is only half of the story. The addition of the Spectrum Virtual software stack really enhances the appeal of the FlashSystem 9100, and most of the features described below are included in the base software license.

Storage Virtualization

IBM’s sub-volume tiering technology, Easy Tier, is included with FlashSystem 9100. This opens up the opportunity to better utilize the flash capacity installed in the system, by adding a second or third tier of storage. Easy Tier can place the hot portions of a volume on flash capacity, and cold portions on a slower technology, saving flash capacity for only workloads which can benefit from the performance.

In regard to adding storage tiers to FlashSystem 9100, we have two options. First, we can add internal storage to the system. The NVMe drives installed in the FlashSystem 9100 control enclosure are considered “Tier 0” flash by the system. SAS-attached expansion enclosures can be added to the system, housing “Tier 1” flash drives in traditional 2.5” SSD form factor. However, FlashSystem 9100 is an all-flash system and installing spinning media is not supported, even in expansion enclosures. It would seem that this limits us to tier 0 flash and tier 1 flash, but that brings us to the second option for additional storage tiers.

Since the full Spectrum Virtualize stack is present, we can virtualize any of approximately 400 supported IBM and non-IBM arrays. Externally virtualized capacity can be any tier of storage, so this is a method for adding enterprise-tier drives or nearline-tier drives to the system. Spectrum Virtualize’s image mode is also available as an easy way to migrate data from an existing array onto the FlashSystem 9100. While external virtualization is enabled on all FlashSystem 9100s, this feature is licensed based on capacity virtualized, so there is an additional license cost for this.

Copy Services: Point-in-Time Copies, Disaster Recovery, & High Availability

DR and HA options are significantly enhanced with the addition of the Spectrum Virtualize software. On its own, a FlashSystem 900 has no real DR or HA functionality. That all changes with the FlashSystem 9100.

FlashSystem 9100 supports the same suite as the other Spectrum Virtualize products. Synchronous replication via Metro Mirror and asynchronous replication via Global Mirror or Global Mirror with Change Volumes are available and built in to the base FlashSystem 9100 license. As a full-fledged member of the Spectrum Virtualize family, FlashSystem 9100 can replicate with any other device running the Spectrum Virtualize software stack, such as other FlashSystem 9100s, SVC clusters, Storwize arrays, or IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud.

Replication from an on-premise FlashSytem 9100 to a cloud-based Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud instance provides a powerful way to implement disaster recovery without the overhead of a second facility. In addition, since it’s the same software stack running in the cloud, you get most of the Spectrum Virtualize features you’ve become accustomed to with your on-premise systems.

On the HA front, FlashSystem 9100 supports HyperSwap, providing active-active high availability between two sites separated by up to 300 km. Hosts can access a HyperSwap-protected volume at either site, providing continuous availability even in the scenario of a full site failure.

In addition to the above DR and HA features, FlashSystem 9100 supports FlashCopy, which is IBM’s point-in-time copy technology. FlashCopy is a welcome addition to the FlashSystem lineup. The FlashSystem 900 does not include point-in-time copy technology, while some of its competitors’ products do.

FlashCopy works great on all-flash arrays like this. Back in the days when all storage was spinning disks, making extensive use of FlashCopy could add overhead such that the underlying disks were overloaded. But with the performance of flash storage, this danger is significantly reduced. FlashCopy is great for creating test copies of databases, backups, cloning boot volumes, and many other uses. FlashSystem 9100 brings this useful feature to the FlashSystem family. And, once again, it’s included in the base license, with no additional cost.

Clustering

FlashSystem 9100 brings with it the ability to cluster multiple systems together into one larger system, managed as a single entity. Just like Storwize and SVC, FlashSystem 9100 can cluster up to eight nodes (four control enclosures) into a single system. A host accessing the clustered system can use capacity housed anywhere on the cluster: control enclosures, expansion enclosures, or externally virtualized storage. And the host’s data can be non-disruptively moved around as needed.

Furthermore, if you are a current Storwize V7000 Gen2 or Gen2+ customer, then you’re in luck! Those systems can be clustered with FlashSystem 9100s, either for expansion purposes or migration purposes.

But Wait, There’s More…

This article touched on some of the ways in which the combination of Spectrum Virtualize software and FlashSystem performance make for a much more versatile product. FlashSystem 9100 has numerous other features, such as thin provisioning, compression, deduplication, volume mirroring, iSCSI, and others.

For all the reasons described here, and more, the combination of FlashSystem performance and Spectrum Virtualize capabilities makes the new FlashSystem 9100 a very capable product.

About ATS

As new tech emerges offering business advantages, enterprises need support and expertise that will enable them to reap the benefits. Based near Philadelphia, the ATS Group offers agile services aligned with modern IT innovations, providing a critical competitive edge. For almost 20 years, our consultants have worked together to provide independent and objective technical advice, creative infrastructure consulting and managed support services for organizations of all sizes. Our specialist help clients store, protect and manage their data, while optimizing performance and efficiency. The ATS Group specializing in server and storage system integration, containerized workloads, high performance computing (HPC), software defined infrastructure, devops, data protection and storage management, cloud consulting, infrastructure performance management and real-time monitoring for cloud, on-premises and hybrid solutions. The ATS Group supports solutions from today’s top IT vendors including IBM, VMware, Oracle, AWS, Microsoft, Cisco, Lenovo, Pure Storage and Red Hat.

Proof of Concept | Disaster Recovery with IBM Spectrum Scale & Active File Management (AFM-DR) in AWS

Proof of Concept | Disaster Recovery with IBM Spectrum Scale & Active File Management (AFM-DR) in AWS

By Prasad Surampudi | Sr. Systems Engineer (The ATS Group)

Spectrum Scale is a IBM’s clustered filesystem which provides extreme scalability, high performance and reliability for HPC workloads. Its widely used by major financial, weather forecasting and genomic research organizations across the world.

IBM Spectrum Scale Active File Management (AFM) offers filesystem caching and synchronization across multiple Spectrum Scale clusters located at different geographic locations. It also facilitates data migration from non-Spectrum Scale filesystems to Spectrum Scale filesystem. It masks WAN latency by doing asynchronous data transfers across the network. AFM can use either NFS or Spectrum Scale native NSD protocols for the data transfers.

As an IBM Business Partner, The ATS Group provides an end-to-end IBM Spectrum Scale cluster solutions architecture, implementation and managed support services to our Financial and Genomic Research customers.

One of our customers uses medium scale IBM Spectrum Scale – SAS Grid cluster to store data for their economic, financial and strategic consulting services. They are currently investigating available options of replicating their production data stored in Spectrum Scale filesystem to a different geographic location as part of their Disaster Recovery (DR) strategy. They want to use their DR site primarily as a data repository without any compute or application servers. They  also want to leverage a cloud based solution to minimize their capital and operating expenses.

We at The ATS Group, work with our customers to clearly understand their exact business needs and always provide innovative and cost effective solutions. So naturally, we were asked by our customer to do a Proof of Concept to implement an IBM Spectrum Scale AFM-DR solution between an on-prim IBM Spectrum Scale cluster and off-prem Amazon AWS cloud based cluster.  We are aware that IBM does not yet support  AFM-DR as cloud based DR solution, but is expected to be supported by IBM very soon.

This document briefly describes the results the AFM-DR Proof of Concept completed by The ATS Group.

Key Features of IBM Spectrum Scale AFM-DR

AFM-DR is a AFM based fileset level disaster recovery solution between two IBM Spectrum Scale clusters. Keep in mind that AFM-DR does not support filesystem replication as a whole and replication has to be setup for each independent fileset within the filesystem. AFM-DR also does not support replication between dependent filesets. The independent filesets in the two IBM Spectrum Scale clusters will have a one-to-one, active-passive relationship with fileset in one cluster being primary (production) and the fileset in the other cluster being secondary (DR). The primary and secondary clusters can have different types of servers and storage independent of each other as AFM-DR is server and storage agnostic.

AFM-DR replicates file data, metadata with ACLs all extended attributes between primary and secondary clusters. However it does not replicate User, Group, Fileset Quotas and number of data and metadata copies configured for filesystem.

You can optionally establish a Recovery Point Objective (RPO) based snapshots for data synchronization for AFM-DR. While applications can read and write to the primary fileset, the data in the secondary cluster is read-only until you do manual a fail-over in case of DR situation. You can fail-back to primary after the production environment has been restored.

A detailed discussion on AFM-DR features and implementation is out of scope of this document and the reader is advised to refer to IBM Knowledge Center.

AFM and AFM-DR Use Cases

IBM Spectrum Scale offers a synchronous replication to replicate data bet een two locations as part of Disaster Recovery solution, but it can’t mask or tolerate WAN latency and has distance limitations between sites.  Spectrum Scale AFM overcomes this limitation by asynchronously transferring data across Spectrum Scale clusters separated by large distances. It also can serve as a data caching mechanism between two clusters in addition to full data replication. AFM has multiple options for data caching for different business use cases such as:

  • partially caching enterprise data between spectrum scale clusters located at head office and branch offices.
  • data migration from a non-Spectrum Scale filesystem to IBM Spectrum Scale filesystem.
  • consolidating data from different sources into a central IBM Spectrum Scale filesystem.
  • AFM-DR provides specific features to implement AFM as a Disaster Recovery solution with RPO based snapshots, fail-over and fail-back capabilities.

AFM-DR Requirements and Limitations

Please note that all customers are advised to contact IBM and get an approval before implementing a AFM-DR as disaster recovery solution.

  • AFM-DR can be configured only for independent filesets.
  • Does not replicate User, Group and Fileset quotas.
  • Can only be configured between two IBM Spectrum Scale Clusters.
  • Needs one or more IBM Spectrum Scale nodes defined as AFM gateways. IBM recommends not you use Protocol Nodes or NSD Servers as AFM Gateway nodes for better performance.
  • Does not support FPO enabled clusters.

Proof of Concept Environment

On-Prim ATS Spectrum Scale Cluster

  • 2 x IBM Power-8 S822 servers
  • 1 Gbps network
  • IBM V7000 Storage

AWS – Spectrum Scale Cluster

Proof of Concept Objectives

  • Setup an on-prim ATS Spectrum Scale cluster on IBM Power-8 LPARs located in the ATS Innovation Center.
  • Setup an off-prem IBM Spectrum Scale cluster on AWS EC-2 instances.
  • Create Test IBM Spectrum Scale filesystem with independent filesets on both filesystems.
  • Configure AFM-DR with on-prim cluster as Primary and AWS IBM Spectrum Scale cluster as Secondary.
  • Test Data replication between the clusters.
  • Test a AFM-DR fail-over and fail-back process.

AFM-DR Configuration

This document will describe the process followed specifically to configure AFM-DR between the two clusters.

Both the ATS and AWS Spectrum Scale clusters are configured using standard IBM Spectrum Scale configuration documented in IBM knowledge center. This document does not intend to describe the basic Spectrum Scale cluster configuration, NSD and filesystem creation process as it is out of scope of this document.

The ATS and AWS cluster details are shown in the screenshots given below:

ATS GPFS Cluster (On-Prim):

AWS GPFS Cluster (Cloud):

ATS GPFS Version:

AWS GPFS Version:

ATS GPFS Cluster NSDs:

It was required to create a custom /var/mmfs/etc/nsddevices for IBM Spectrum Scale to properly detect AWS – EBS volumes as NSDs:

Creating Custom NSD Discovery File:

AWS NSDs:

ATS GPFS Cluster Filesystem:

AWS Filesystem:

Creating New Independent Filesets for AFM DR

Keep in mind that AFM-DR is not supported on dependent filesets. So, you need create independent filesets in order to configure AFM-DR. Below screenshots show  the commands used to create independent filesets in ATS and AWS Spectrum Scale cluster filesystems

Creating a Primary fileset in ATS Cluster:

Linking Primary Fileset:

Check the AFM Primary Fileset Information:

Creating Secondary filesets in AWS Cluster:

Linking Secondary Fileset:

Enabling NFS on AWS Secondary Cluster:

Starting NFS:

Now let’s create some test data in the primary ATS cluster:

Check AFM-DR status on Primary:

Make sure AFM-DR mounted the Secondary fileset using NFS:

Check the AFM Status again on Primary after few min and make sure its active:

Make sure the data is getting copied from Primary to Secondary.

ATS – Primary cluster:

AWS – Secondary Cluster:

Verify that the data in Secondary – AWS cluster is read-only until a manual failover is initiated in case of DR situation:

Now do manual Failover from Primary to secondary in case of DR situation:

Make sure DR filesystem is writable for applications:

 

Summary and Conclusion

AFM-DR presents a unique solution for customers who want to replicate their business critical data to an off-site location as part of their DR strategy. Since AFM-DR is a server and storage agnostic solution, customers have many options to choose from for their DR environment based on their IT budget and business requirements. As many of the enterprises are leveraging cloud based solutions to minimize capital and operating expenses, implementing a cloud based data replication solutions are picking up high demand. Though IBM Spectrum Scale AFM-DR solution is not formally supported by IBM at present, IBM Spectrum Scale development teams are working to support this solution very soon. This Proof of Concept completed by The ATS Group proves that AFM-DR solution can be implemented  successfully between on-prem and AWS Spectrum Scale clusters as a DR solution for customers to leverage cloud based services. Keep in mind that though the basic data replication process using AFM-DR works, there are many limitations that need to be addressed before implementing this solution in a production environment.

About ATS

As new tech emerges offering business advantages, enterprises need support and expertise that will enable them to reap the benefits. Based near Philadelphia, the ATS Group offers agile services aligned with modern IT innovations, providing a critical competitive edge. For almost 20 years, our consultants have worked together to provide independent and objective technical advice, creative infrastructure consulting and managed support services for organizations of all sizes. Our specialist help clients store, protect and manage their data, while optimizing performance and efficiency. The ATS Group specializing in server and storage system integration, containerized workloads, high performance computing (HPC), software defined infrastructure, devops, data protection and storage management, cloud consulting, infrastructure performance management and real-time monitoring for cloud, on-premises and hybrid solutions. The ATS Group supports solutions from today’s top IT vendors including IBM, VMware, Oracle, AWS, Microsoft, Cisco, Lenovo, Pure Storage and Red Hat. www.theatsgroup.com