The Cost of Not Backing Up
Published: September 23, 2009
I'm performing a disaster recovery review for a client. The client backs up only i5/OS user libraries daily. He doesn't back up program libraries, QUSRSYS, QGPL, or QSYS2. He doesn't process the SAVSECDTA, SAVCFG, SAVDLO, or SAV commands daily or weekly, either. He's adamant that he has enough libraries to perform a successful system recovery. And it gets worse. . . .
The user only does a complete system save if he loads cumulative PTFs or does a hardware upgrade. He didn't perform a complete system save before the last hardware upgrade, and he used an old tape to perform the system restore. He didn't perform any post-upgrade system backups until four weeks after the upgrade. He won't perform regular full system backups, even though I've often pushed monthly saves. I think he's setting himself up for a disaster. What do you think?
System i and iSeries system backups are a duty, not an option. The critical question is: How do you make system backups easier to sell and perform? While your client performs nightly data backups, he is missing other critical backup pieces, including:
- User profiles--If the system crashed, how many user profiles will need to be recreated? Is he also prepared to recreate the auxiliary configurations that go with each profile, including System Distribution Directory entries, menu configurations, and vendor software configurations?
- Device descriptions--How many printer descriptions aren't being backed up? What about controllers and line descriptions? What critical capabilities will he lose in a crash?
- QGPL and QUSRSYS--IBM advises against putting production objects in QGPL, but almost everyone does it. If there are subsystem descriptions, job descriptions, and other system objects in QUSRSYS, they can also be lost in a crash.
- The AS/400 Integrated File System (AS/400 IFS) and document library folders--Many third-party software providers put configuration information in the AS/400 IFS. Other programs that interface with PC servers also use AS/400 IFS folders.
- Program changes--How many programmer days are wrapped up in code libraries that aren't saved? What about critical third-party packages, such as Help/Systems' Robot/SCHEDULE, where the batch production schedule may be stored. Is he prepared to lose production programming and scheduling in a crash?
The iSeries is an incredibly reliable machine, but this mindset doesn't make sense. If you need to sell the need to perform regular backups, here are some ideas to seal the deal.
- Perform a quarterly system backup on a holiday weekend. He can even automate the backup. Maybe a quarterly backup will be more appealing than monthly or weekly backups.
- I recently published a simple save while active backup scheme. My scheme provided full system backups at regular intervals while also performing save while active backups for capturing data and critical system changes nightly. You might suggest exploring save while active technology.
- There is no reason for skipping system configuration object and security data saves. The Save Security Data (SAVSECDTA) command runs without requiring a restricted system, as does the Save Configuration (SAVCFG) command. These backups should be run weekly or during the nightly backup.
- Can he use third-party software to meet backup goals? Maybe an i5/OS third-party backup and recovery package can help him get the backups he needs without producing excessive down time.
- What is the regulatory and audit environment like in this company? Do auditors review system processes? What about management? His company's relies on its ability to keep the system's going in the event of a crash. If the manager's backup strategies are undermining that function, what do the company's regulatory elements say about it?
Remember, there's a cost associated with not performing proper backups. The key lies in making a business case for why regular system backups beyond data backup are critical. If the manager doesn't listen, maybe there are others who can help make the case. It's best if the manager is convinced to run regular backups before a disaster convinces him the hard way.
Editor's Note: What do you think? Have you worked with anyone who treats i5/OS system backups as a suggestion instead of a requirement? Send me your stories about the cost of not backing up. I'll forward them to Ray as additional suggestions. I may also print them in a future column. Email me via the IT Jungle Contact page.
A Simple Save While Active Backup Program
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