Prizm FICON to ESCON Converter

Optica’s Prizm is a multi-channel FICON to ESCON Protocol Converter.

With the fast approaching elimination of the ESCON protocol on System z, FICON to ESCON conversion is IBM’s recommended solution for attaching ESCON and Bus/Tag devices to newer, FICON only System z mainframes.

System z reccomended best practice regarding ESCON to FICON migration

The Prizm FICON Converter supports conversion of native FICON (FC) to native ESCON (CNC) protocol, allowing mission critical ESCON and Bus/Tag devices to operate in FICON direct attached or FICON director topologies. Prizm supports attachment to a broad base of multi-vendor ESCON and Bus/Tag devices including disk, tape, printer, communications controllers and front-end processors. Field qualification initiatives have been completed with most peripheral devices from IBM, Cisco, Sun/StorageTek, Memorex, NCR/Teradata, Intercom, OCE and Racal/Thales. In addition, Prizm has recently completed IBM’s rigorous SAK testing and received full certification.

Prizm accepts a native FICON channel from the S/390 or System z mainframe (CHPID type FC) and converts the protocol for connectivity to multiple outbound ESCON channels. ESCON devices are logically mapped to the FICON channel via a web based toolset.

Key advantages for attaching ESCON devices to the FICON network include: ESCON channel and ESCON director port consolidation, ESCON director replacement, more efficient utilization of the FICON channel, and the ability to support remote ESCON device applications based on the inherent distance capability of the FICON protocol.

The Prizm FICON Converter is based on a space efficient 2U purpose-built server platform, with standard available configurations of 1:4 and 2:8 (FICON:ESCON).

  • 1:4
  • 2:8

The Prizm units are 19 inch rack mountable and ship standard with sliding mounting rails. A complete customized 42U server cabinet solution is also available that includes front and rear perforated doors, solid sidewalls, front and rear EIA server rails, power distribution, all power cords, swivel casters and leveling feet. ( see page 2 of the Prizm datasheet for more specs )

Prizm is configurable via a web based GUI. The Prizm Configuration Data Set (PCDS) utilizes logical path binding and maps FICON logical paths to ESCON logical paths. Prizm is transparent to the HCD/IOCDS. The Prizm Configuration Toolset offers an auto-configuration tool that reads in IOCDS files. After the user specifies several configuration details (related to number of ports, FICON/ESCON fabric components, etc.) and selects the appropriate LPARS and CHPIDs, the PCDS is automatically created. This auto-configuration tool greatly simplifies the installation process and reduces risk of configuration errors. In addition, a network diagram can be automatically generated that shows real time path status at a glance.

Prizm is the central strategic component for Managed Evolution – Optica’s new solution for planning FICON migrations and providing a connectivity solution that enables investment protection for existing ESCON and Bus/Tag devices while allowing migration to FICON technology on the mainframe. FICON migration at the host level without the disruption and cost of upgrading to FICON devices offers IT managers many potential advantages including relief for ESCON channel constraints, consolidation or elimination of ESCON director infrastructure that can be costly to maintain, and the ability to progress to a single and consistent cable infrastructure. At this point, migration to FICON devices is made simple and can be accomplished over the customer’s chosen time horizon based on business requirements.

A comprehensive upgrade from ESCON to FICON for all host systems and devices simultaneously is unrealistic and cost prohibitive. Prizm provides a means for phased migrations as technology is refreshed on the mainframe, but not necessarily at the device level due to storage device leasing cycles or simply based on a desire to continue to utilize existing, fully depreciated ESCON device assets. In a switched FICON environment, Prizm allows attachment of ESCON devices to existing FICON channels simultaneously with native FICON devices, maximizing channel utilization and efficiency.

To see Prizm solutions in action, visit our Customer Deployment Examples page

For customers who have Bus/Tag requirements, there is a Bus/Tag interface feature (ESBT) for Prizm

Prizm Solutions

PRIZM Downloadable Files

Download the Prizm DataSheet
Download the “Using PRIZM to Replace FICON Bridge Cards” document.