LaserVault Shrinks System i Backups with Data De-Duplication
March 3, 2009 Alex Woodie
Backups are critical to ensuring the integrity of your data, but they can take a lot of time. System i shops that use the LaserVault Backup solution have a new option available that can reduce the size of their backups by up to a factor of 50, or even more. The reduction is the result of a partnership LaserVault formed with data de-duplication specialists Data Domain and the subsequent work the companies did to integrate LaserVault Backup with Data Domain’s Restorer.
LaserVault Backup was launched in 2006 to provide System i shops with a less expensive alternative to virtual tape libraries (VLTs), which were gaining popularity at the time. The software uses IBM‘s native backup commands for the IBM i OS (i5/OS, OS/400), and supports all data and object types except licensed programs and QTEMP.
But instead of backing up the System i data to an unreliable tape drive or an expensive VLT device, LaserVault Backup sends the data to any PC hardware, via standard Ethernet interfaces and TCP/IP. That means you could use a Windows-based SAN, an external hard drive, PC-compatible DVDs, or even a USB thumb drive to store System i backup data. The software also compresses and encrypts the data (using AES, Blowfish, 3DES, and other standards), if required, and includes utilities for managing catalogs of backups.
Now, thanks to integration work between LaserVault and Data Domain, LaserVault Backup users will be able to reduce their System i backup times by a significant margin–more than could be achieved using LaserVault’s standard compression algorithms. The setup requires users to purchase a Data Domain DDR backup appliance, which start at about $15,000 and become the target for System i backups. Users must also run the LaserVault Backup software on a Windows box to execute the backup.
The savings from de-duplication are said to become evident after using the Data Domain backup appliances several times. “With de-duplication on Data Domain, a typical System i user should see between 30 to 1 and 70 to 1 de-duplication over several weeks or months of full backups,” says Brad Jensen, president of LaserVault and its sister company, Electronic Storage Corp.
There are two principle advantages of using a data de-duplication system such as Data Domain’s, according to LaserVault. “The single most important effect of de-duplication is it reduces the bandwidth needed for offsite replication,” Jensen says. Also, because backups take less hard drive space, it reduces rack space and power consumption and increases hard drive reliability.
LaserVault takes the performance of its backup software quite seriously. The company has pitted LaserVault Backup against the latest LTO-3 tape drives, and found that LaserVault can move data nearly twice as fast (up to 400 MB per second, compared to about 220 MB per second for an LTO-3 drive) when hooked up to a 10 Gigabit Ethernet port. The product can process up to eight backup or restore streams simultaneously over a single line, and can also support multiple Ethernet lines to maximize bandwidth.
Of course, users will need to properly outfit their Data Domain appliance with enough high-speed disks to get the most bang for their backup buck. Customers also have the option of choosing from other CIFS-supported storage providers, including Exagrid and Falconstor, according to Jensen.
In the three years that it has been available, the product has racked up some happy customers. One of them is the Texas State Bank, which was looking for a way to encrypt System i data before sending it offsite for safe keeping. “One of the things that had kept me up at night for so long was the fact that we were transporting our backup tapes to an off-site location after our daily processing was completed,” says Donivan Felty, the bank’s IT officer. “This was done with the best of intentions to satisfy an auditor or an examiner. But to me, this practice opened up a serious hole in our security . . .
“Now, we execute a job after processing and our backups are automatically transmitted securely without anyone being able to intercept them and use our customer’s valuable information for their own purposes,” Felty concludes. “It has worked very well for us and we are very happy with our relationship with LaserVault.”
LaserVault Backup supports OS/400 V4R3 and higher. Licenses begin at $5,000. The company also charges for a data stream enhancement to utilize data de-duplication devices such as Data Domain’s, which range from $1,000 to $20,000, depending on the model. For more information, visit www.laservaultbackup.com.