Bug Busters Bolsters HA Offering
June 8, 2010 Alex Woodie
Bug Busters Software Engineering added a number of useful features to the latest release of its high availability (HA) offering for i/OS. For starters, users will be able to perform several new types of role swaps with RSF-HA version 8.5. The new release also brings support for IPv6, new compression capabilities, intra-LPAR mirroring, and several other new functions aimed at easing the administration of a System i HA setup.
RSF-HA is the high availability version of the Remote Software Facility (RSF) product that the Seattle, Washington, software company has been developing for many years. While RSF was aimed at making it easier for large companies and ISVs to distribute program updates to AS/400s, the HA version of RSF tweaks that goal and provides the mechanisms for replicating data and objects from one System i server to another and performing the server role-swap that’s so important during am emergency (as well as much of the nitty-gritty HA stuff, such as replicating user profiles, IFS directories, and so forth).
With RSF-HA version 8.5, Bug Busters has added more practical features to the green-screen product. At the top of the list are several new role swap capabilities that should make it easier to test the product (which every HA customers should do on a regular basis).
This includes a new “virtual” role-swap that allows a customer to temporarily put the secondary (target) server into production, run tests, and apply changes. At the end of the virtual role swap, any changes made are discarded, and the primary server goes back to being the production machine.
Bug Busters also provides more flexibility during role swap initiation. Previously, an operator or administrator had to be present at the system console to initiate a role swap. Now, the role swap command can be executed as a batch program, freeing the administrator to be somewhere else during a test.
The new release also includes support for Internet Protocol version 6. Bug Busters had to change the way RSF-HA (as well as the core RSF product) handled IP addresses to support version 6, including supporting the hexadecimal values that are used with IPv6. With version 8.5, all valid IPv6 addresses are supported for incoming and outgoing connections.
Finding specific log entries made by RSF-HA should be easier thanks to a new spool file tool included in version 8.5. The Find Spooled File command is used to match a specific search string against a collection of spooled files. Before this command was available, finding a specific entry was like finding a needle in a haystack, the company says.
Transmission of large i/OS libraries, objects, and IFS directories should go much faster thanks to new compression capabilities in RSF-HA version 8.5. With three different levels of compression, users will save a lot of time when replicating these static (rarely changing) items from one location to another. This compression comes on top of the existing compression that Bug Busters provides for real-time data transmission.
This release also brings support for using remote journaling to replicate data within the same logical partition (LPAR). Previously, customers could only use remote journaling (which has been supported for just the past two releases in RSF-HA, which also supports a proprietary replication mechanism) between two servers or LPARs. While replicating within the same LPAR does not provide much protection against a disaster, some System i shops use the technique to avoid the downtime associated with tape backups.
Bug Busters also tweaked the console to make customized displays easier. Display changes include the capability for users to create their own “PDM-like” options, such as WJ for “work with jobs associated with the item” and WS for “work with spooled files associated with the item.” This release also makes it easier for users to manage the replication process by performing certain HA functions to many items at once, instead of handling each item separately.
License fees for RSF-HA are typically between $10,000 and $14,000 for a two-server setup, a figure that Bug Busters says is much less than the competition. For more information on RSF-HA or its 8.5 release, see the company’s Web site at www.bugbusters.net.