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Support FAQ’s

Support FAQ's

In order to assist you futher, we’ve assembled a list of the most frequently asked questions below:

Can ESCON devices at a remote location be connected without utilizing ESCON channel extension boxes?

In lieu of ESCON channel extension gear, FICON inter-switch links (ISL’s) can be used to span distances of up to 150+ km depending on the infrastructure in place, and FCIP channel extension gear can be used for virtually unlimited distances depending on the device type that is being connected.

If the Bus/Tag devices are dedicated to a single LPAR, then they can be supported on dedicated (non-switched) FICON links to Prizm.

If the Bus/Tag or single path devices need to be switched between LPARs, then it depends on how many there are.  In most cases it is preferable for Bus/Tag or single path ESCON devices that need to be independently switched between LPARs to be on their own FICON CHPID from the CEC.  If the number of FICON CHPIDs required exceeds the number of Prizm FICON ports, then a FICON Director/Switch would be required to accommodate the necessary access

I have B/T devices daisy chained via an IBM 9034 converter. Can I continue to daisy chain with ESBT?

Possibly.  Because the ESBT converter technology is different, there are new considerations for daisy-chaining, including the potential for performance impacts.  Certain B/T device types are known to cause performance impacts in a daisy chained environment with ESBT, thus Optica recommends that only one B/T device be attached to an ESBT generally speaking.  This said, there are certain device types that have proven not to be a problem when daisy-chained behind ESBT.  Because each case can be unique in various ways, customers should consult with Optica and provide the manufacturer and model of the B/T devices that they require support for when considering their Prizm/ESBT requirements.

Can a Bus & Tag device be connected via Prizm to a remote location 100km away?

An Optica ESBT B/T interface module is required to convert ESCON to B/T, and when used in conjunction with a Prizm, will support connectivity of a B/T device to a FICON channel, either locally or remotely.  Currently ESBT only supports block mode Bus & Tag devices.  Byte mode devices are not currently supported.

Can Prizm replace a FICON bridge feature in a 9032-5 ESCON director?

Yes, this is a very commonly deployed application for Prizm.  Prizm is the only solution on the market that can seamlessly replace a FICON bridge deployment.

Can you connect ESCON printers via FICON channel extension gear with Prizm at the remote location?

Depending upon the distance between locations, the type and model number of the printers being extended, and the specific channel extension solution being deployed, the answer is yes. Please contact Optica or your authorized reseller to discuss the specific application.

When comparing the 1:4 & 2:8 configurations, what is the role of the 2:8’s additional FICON channel?

The 2nd FICON port is not so much for accommodating through-put as it is for redundancy, considering that all the traffic from 8 ESCON ports could in most cases be driven by a single 2 Gb FICON channel, not to mention a 4 or 8 Gb channel.  So, the primary reason for the second FICON port on a 2:8 Prizm is path redundancy.  However, for controllers with two ESCON interfaces, two 1:4 Prizm units can be used to not only achieve path redundancy, but also Prizm redundancy.

Can Bus/Tag devices be moved between CEC’s or LPARs when connected via Prizm?

If the device is to be configured through a FICON switch or there are enough FICON ports on Prizm, the CHPID defined to the Bus/Tag device can be defined as a Reconfigurable or Dedicated CHPID, which would allow the CHPID to be configured off from one LPAR/ CEC, in order to drop the Logical Path and on to another LPAR/CEC without impacting other devices. This can also be accomplished on a SHARED CHPID as long as there is no LPAR conflict with other devices.

It depends largely on how each Bus/Tag device is used today from an operational perspective.

If the Bus/Tag device is dedicated to a single LPAR currently, then the same FICON link can be used to access ESCON devices and Bus/Tag devices. As an example, consider an ESCON tape drive that is accessed by 4 LPARs and a Bus/Tag printer that is accessed by only 1 of the 4 LPARs used by the tape drive. This scenario could be supported on a single FICON link. The CHPID would be defined to have all 4 LPARs in the Access List. The IODEVICE statement for the Bus/Tag device would have a Device Candidate List parameter that would name the single LPAR that can access the Bus/Tag device.

If the Bus/Tag device is currently using a reconfigurable CVC CHPID and needs to be periodically switched from one LPAR to another, then a dedicated FICON link should be allocated for this Bus/Tag device in the Prizm environment. Why? In order to drop the Logical Path connection to device, the CHPID must be configured off to the LPAR. This will affect all other devices on the LPAR using that CHPID, i.e. the ESCON tape drive. Once the Logical Path is dropped, the CHPID can be configured ON to the receiving LPAR. With multi path devices such as tape, it is possible to remove one path to the multi path device in order to move the single path device to a different LPAR, without losing all paths to the device. Once the Single Path device has moved, the CHPID that was configured off can be configured back on.

Can I use my existing Bus/Tag to ESCON converter (Optica 34600 or IBM 9034) with Prizm?

No.  The existing Bus/Tag converters operate only on CVC or CBY CHPID types.  Prizm converts native FICON to native ESCON (CHPID type CNC).  Thus in order to attach a Bus/Tag device to Prizm, a different converter technology is required that supports attachment to the CNC CHPID type produced by Prizm.  The ESBT was designed specifically for this application.

Is it possible to connect Bus/Tag devices to FICON channels via Prizm?

Yes, as long as the B/T device is operating in BLOCK mode (i.e. currently attached to a CVC CHPID type), it can be connected to FICON channels via Prizm and ESBT. Devices operating in BYTE mode (requiring CHPID type CBY in an ESCON configuration) CANNOT be supported on FICON channels. The Optica solution of Prizm and ESBT will allow BLOCK mode B/T devices to connect to FICON

Does Prizm support attachment of ESCON devices over FICON ISL’s between 2 sites?

Yes, this is a very commonly deployed application for Prizm.

Can Prizm convert FICON to Bus/Tag?

An Optica ESBT B/T interface module is required in conjunction with Prizm to allow attachment of a B/T device to FICON channels. Currently ESBT only supports block mode Bus & Tag devices. Byte mode is not currently supported.

Can remote ESCON devices be connected to FICON channels over DWDM? Is this support by Prizm?

Yes, this is a very commonly deployed application for Prizm.

Will Prizm allow an ESCON channel on the Mainframe to connect to FICON DASD?

No.  Prizm allows a FICON channel from the mainframe to communicate with ESCON devices, not the other way around.

Does Optica offer a rental program for the Prizm FICON to ESCON converter product?

Yes, under certain circumstances. Please contact Optica Sales directly for more information.

When using Prizm, how are the ESCON attached tape devices and the FICON CHPIDs defined via HCD?

Pretty much the same way they are configured currently with native ESCON; however, you will use different CUADD values related to the Prizm port for the various devices that use the same LINK to communicate to different physical devices.  For device types that do not have an option for FICON attachment, the CNTLUNIT TYPE parameter is set to NOCHECK.

Can Prizm be used to replace ESCON directors while providing the same connectivity and functionality

Yes, in almost all cases. This is a very commonly deployed application for Prizm. Please contact your Optica Technical Services representative or your authorized reseller to discuss specific capabilities and/or limitations.

What is the standard lead time for a Prizm order?

Optica is committed to working with you in order to establish a reasonable time frame for delivery that suits your implementation schedule. The standard shipment lead time from receipt of order is 3 weeks, however we can often within 1-2 weeks.

What is the part number for your Prizm FICON to ESCON converter?

Prizm 2:8 Longwave and Short wave: 34800-208X

Prizm 1:4 Longwave and Short wave: 34800-104X

Prizm 1:2 Longwave and Short wave: 34800-102X

Do you sell and ship your product internationally?

Yes, Optica has established an extensive network of partners and resellers for worldwide coverage.  Please see our website for a complete listing of international channel partners or contact Optica directly via telephone (720-218-2800) or via our website (www.opticatech.com) for specific guidance based on your location.

Does the Prizm look like a control unit to the channel? How is Prizm configured in HCD/IOCDS?

Prizm looks like a FICON Multi-LCU Control Unit to the channel; however, Prizm is not defined as a device in HCD/IOCDS. The actual devices attached through Prizm are configured in HCD/IOCDS with unique CUADD’s.  Best practice is to use the two digit FICON CUADD using the left digit as the Prizm port and the right digit as the normal ESCON CUADD value.  For devices capable of direct attachment via ESCON and FICON channels, they are defined as the actual devices. Devices that do not have a FICON attachment capability have their CNTLUNIT TYPE set to NOCHECK in HCD/IOCDS.

Do I define the same number of paths on the FICON side as the ESCON side?


What design redundancy/fault tolerance is built in to Prizm?

Prizm contains multiple redundant components to maximize reliability including power supplies and fan modules. Prizm is considered a “3-nines” solution, providing 99.9% uptime.  Additional redundancy can be designed in to the configuration on an optional basis via the use of dual Prizm units and redundant pathing for dual-ported devices.

What are the rack/cabinet options?

The Prizm device always ships with a rack mount kit (including sliding rails) for easy installation into any standard 19 inch mountable width rack or cabinet.

What are the fiber optic and Bus/Tag connector types for the ESBT’s ESCON and parallel interfaces

The standard connector type for the ESCON interface is MTRJ and the connector type for the Bus/Tag is an Optica-supplied Bus/Tag “Y” Cable.  Some ESBT converters have the ESCON Duplex connector, however a conversion cable is always provided with the ESBT that will convert the connector to the other style (MTRJ or ESCON Duplex).

What are the fiber optic connector types for the ESCON and FICON interfaces?

The standard connector type for the ESCON interface is MTRJ and the connector type for the FICON interface is LC Duplex.  Optional conversion cables are available for purchase that will convert the MTRJ connector to ESCON Duplex.  

What are the power requirements?

Standard 110/220V power cord with dual AC sourcing capability. The unit comes standard with dual, redundant, hot-swappable power supplies.

Does Prizm have phone home or E-mail home capability?

Prizm will not phone home in the event of a failure or error occurrence; however Prizm does support SMTP as well as SNMP and can be configured to send Email notifications (alerts) to user defined Email accounts.  Prizm can also be configured to interface to most network management applications.

Are both short wave and long wave optics available for the FICON interface?

Prizm ships standard with long wave optics installed, however, short wave pluggable optics are also included with every Prizm unit.

Does Prizm support multi-pathing for tape?

Prizm will definitely support multi-pathing for tape.

Does Prizm support 2 byte addressing in cascaded director environments?

Yes, this feature is inherent in Prizm and is fully supported. 

If one of the two FICON ports on Prizm is lost, is there automatic failover to the other inbound FIC

No, the two FICON ports are independent of one another with no failover capability between them.  However, both FICON ports may be configured to devices that support multiple logical paths.  Therefore the loss of a FICON port would result only in the loss of a path, not access to the device. 

Does Prizm offer dynamic switching capability similar to ESCON and FICON directors?

No, Prizm binds FICON logical ports to ESCON logical ports in a static fashion via a user definable configuration utility.  Prizm does support the emulation of ESCON Directors as well as physical connection to ESCON Directors.  Please contact Optica for more information on ESCON Director emulation functionality.

How can I find out if a particular device is supported by Prizm?

Based on Optica’s rigorous and extensive investment in qualification testing at IBM’s vendor qualification labs in Poughkeepsie, Prizm will support any ESCON device as long as the device operates within IBM’s ESCON specification.  

Is Prizm based on open standards or based on proprietary technology?

The software technology that converts FICON protocol to ESCON protocol is based on patented, proprietary technology developed by Optica Technologies and the utilities used to set up and manage Prizm are based on LINUX, an open standards technology. The hardware components include patented technology for the ESCON interface card, but all other hardware is based on industry standard components provided by leading hardware companies in the information technology industry. 

How do I obtain updates to Prizm software?

If you have purchased and have a current maintenance contract, you may obtain firmware/microcode updates from your authorized reseller or from Optica Technical Services directly.