Tape Backup Recovery Points Improved With RecoverNow
March 17, 2009 Dan Burger
The importance of a dependable backup system is often taken for granted. Many organizations are relying on conventional tape-based processes that have been in place since Day One. For those looking beyond the short-comings of the 100 percent taped-based backup system, it’s the capability to quickly and properly restore backups and do so within a reasonable budget that avoids the pain. Reducing recovery point objectives (RPOs) is a big issue for many IBM i shops and it’s exactly why Vision Solutions has introduced RecoverNow.
The primary benefit of RecoverNow is the capability to recover data (one or many files, objects, or libraries) at specific points in time–a process that is at best slow using backup tapes and, in a worst case scenario, completely unavailable if the recovery is needed before the tape backup occurs or the tape is lost or damaged. Curtailing the amount of data loss when hit by interruptions such as software corruptions, security breaches, virus attacks, or accidentally deleted files can be an easy decision for many organizations and one with an easy to prove return on investment when figuring in the cost of downtime.
RecoverNow not only boosts reliability and offers continuous data protection. It also provides a level of automation not typically realized by organizations in the small to mid size market.
Because of the platform flexibility RecoverNow, the purchase of a second AS/400, iSeries, System i, or IBM i server is not required. RecoverNow fits into existing infrastructures by using the storage available on virtually any platform as a target. The options include Windows, Linux, IBM i, AIX, or other Unix versions. It can also support SAN or NAS environments as a target. The savings provided by optional target sites will undoubtedly grab the attention of some. But that’s not the only way to view cost effectiveness.
The costliness associated with data loss when recovering information from tape backups is emphasized by Vision Solutions’ senior vice president of marketing, Ed Vesely, who boasts that RecoverNow can dramatically reduce or eliminate these labor-intensive expenses when they rain on your parade. Vesely also notes the product complements an existing high availability environment by providing continuous data protection (CDP).
In the real world, there are many organizations that are solely dependent on tape backup and lack any kind of data recovery plan. Of those that have a plan, not all have a good plan. RecoverNow may induce organizations to rethink their backup and recovery planning, which begin with getting the data back on the system as quickly and conveniently as possible.
Bill Hammond, director of product marketing for Vision, says RecoverNow fits the needs of System i shops that may never want high availability. The most critical need for the typical RecoverNow customer is to do backups without downtime.
“Among the disaster recovery customers there is a higher concern for RPO (lose no data), than for the getting back up and running in a few minutes or an hour,” Hammond says. “These shops can tolerate downtime, but they have a lower tolerance for loss of data.”
RecoverNow saves the journal transaction onto a secondary, or target, system that can be in the same location or a separate disaster recovery location, which is really a better DR plan. The target system only needs to store the transaction data between the last save to tape and the next scheduled save to tape. In most cases, that would not be longer than one day. Hammond notes that keeping multiple blocks of journal entries between tapes and cataloging is preferable because there may be occasions when a tape fails or for some other reason, going back farther than one tape save is necessary.
RecoverNow can also be valuable to an existing high availability user because of the CDP capability it provides. It would come in handy when a secondary system is accidentally corrupted due to a corruption in the primary system. The CDP function allows going back in time to that event and making a correction.
In case you missed it, Vision Solutions released a report titled The State of Resilience and Optimization on IBM Power Systems in November 2008. The report (detailed in a Four Hundred Stuff article) used a survey of more than 2,000 IT professionals and executives at organizations that use IBM Power Systems (and System i and System p) servers. Based on the survey results, Vision and its strategic partner, the Information Availability Institute, concluded there’s “a disconnect between their goals and perception of disaster recovery readiness and the actual state of affairs” and that achieving recovery times of less than one day when depending completely on tape-based backup systems was not likely.
To obtain continuous data protection, Vision integrated RecoverNow with IBM’s Save While Active technology. Save While Active is a built-in feature of the IBM i (also i5/OS and OS/400) operating systems that greatly minimizes–but doesn’t entirely eliminate–the downtime associated with performing backups.
Another useful resource on this topic is a Vision Solution whitepaper titled The Benefits of CDP Technology in IBM i (i5/OS) and AIX Environments.
Also on the topic of business resiliency and system availability is a Webcast sponsored by Vision Solutions and IBM. The topics of discussion include best practices for managing disaster recovery and availability and market intelligence for mid-market disaster recovery concerns. This 60-minute session is scheduled for March 24 at 10 a.m. CST. For more information and to register for the event, visit the Vision Solutions events page.
RecoverNow is available now. Pricing follows the standard Vision Solution arrangement, which is based on IBM i model and software tier. The entry-level price point is $4,000.