Shield Adds More Smarts to Budget HA Software
March 24, 2009 Alex Woodie
Users of Shield Advanced Solutions‘ budget-minded high availability (HA), called Receiver Apply Program (RAP), gained several new features this week with the launch of RAP version 4.1. The most exciting new capability is automated object replication, which the company heralded as the last hurdle preventing the two-year-old RAP from being recognized as a “true” HA product. The product update also gains new job monitoring capabilities.
Shield Advanced Solutions launched the first version of RAP way back in 2007 to show the midrange world how a bare-bones data replication solution could be built for the AS/400. The product was based in large part on the technical contents of a white paper written by Chris Hird, the company’s president, on the topic of i5 journaling.
Since then, RAP has been gradually inching its way up to full HA status, gaining new features with each new iteration. Version 2 introduced new synchronization and auditing features, as well as support for replication of user profiles, while version 3 brought support for iASPs, switching features, and alerting capabilities.
Now, with RAP version 4.1, Shield is casting off one of the last, big, time-consuming, manual processes with the addition of fully automated object replication. This means that users must no longer manually add objects to RAP’s replication roles, as the product can automatically find new objects added to the system and start replicating them to the backup server without any manual intervention.
The new feature was added at the request of prospective new customers, who were undoubtedly weighing the pros of licensing a streamlined HA product against the cons of extended manual intervention, according to Hird.
“RAP is an affordable product that is fast and efficient,” Hird says. “Our prospects however, wanted to see object replication included. This latest version removes the final obstacle preventing RAP being able to fully compete in the high availability arena.”
Another major area of improvement in RAP 4.1 is in the area of System i jobs and job monitoring. The new release keeps track of jobs that were active at the time of a server or network failure, making it easier to rebuild the server during the recovery process.
In effect, Shield has included a copy of JobQGenie, which the company has sold for years to fill a gap in the coverage of traditional HA products. Now, Shield is marketing RAP as the first HA product with built-in job monitoring.
Other changes with version 4.1 include faster and more efficient auditing; improved menus and status displays; and an easer installation process.
Shield says the poor economy is helping to generate interest in budget-minded HA products such as RAP. The company is also starting to tout customer wins, such as the Minster Machine Company out of Beaufort, South Carolina. “RAP/400 has been a great DR tool for us,” Minster Machine’s Kevin Wenning says in a write-up on Shield’s Web site. “It’s easier to install than other products and requires less maintenance.”
RAP 4.1 is available now. Pricing is tier-based and starts at $3,500. For more information and free trial downloads, visit the company’s Web site at www.shield.on.ca.