Shield Unveils New DR Solution for i/OS
June 15, 2010 Alex Woodie
Shield Advanced Solutions hopes a new low-cost disaster recovery product unveiled last week will find a comfortable spot among small and medium-sized System i shops. Called DR4i, the new offering continuously replicates changes to i/OS data and objects to a secondary server or LPAR. The software, which is based on IBM‘s remote journaling technology, is a scaled-down, and lower-cost, version of Shield’s high availability software product.
Companies of every size need some form of DR. For most companies, the combination of tape backups and off-site vaulting of tape cartridges provide the only assurance that a server breakdown or on-site disaster will not result in the company losing all of its data. For many years, larger companies, which have more to lose, have been invested in advanced high availability technology, which, in addition to providing an off-site vault for data, also allows a company to continue operations in the event of an on-site outage or disaster. Recently, many medium-sized companies have invested in HA, too.
But smaller businesses typically cannot justify the expense of a full HA setup, leaving them with fewer choices. What’s interesting about Shield’s new DR4i offering is that it leverages one of the key technologies of high availability–IBM’s remote journaling replication technology–but in a less expensive and easier to use package.
With DR4i, Shield has provided a scaled-down version of its remote journaling-based high availability software, called Receiver Apply Program, or RAP. In effect, DR4i consists of the journal apply process that Shield developed for RAP, but without all of the other stuff (such as roll swaps and support for objects that can’t be journaled) that exist in RAP.
“DR4i uses the same technology as RAP, with simple installation and management requirements,” states Shield president Chris Hird in an announcement. “Some companies do not need the capabilities of a full high availability product such as RAP, but do require a synchronous copy of the database and journaled objects.”
Using remote journaling enables DR4i to take advantage of the low-level replication plumbing that IBM has already built into its i operating system. Any changes made to DB2/400 or selected i/OS objects will be automatically sent across the wire, via remote journaling, to a secondary server. (While DR4i can be used within a single server, Shield does not recommend this setup, especially with the price of used System i hardware being so inexpensive.)
With the focus on ease-of-use, Shield developed a Web-based management console for DR4i where administrators can monitor and manage the replication and recovery processes. The GUI, which was developed in PHP, is color-coded to allow administrators to quickly see which areas need assistance and which areas are working as planned.
“We have removed a lot of the complexity built into RAP to make it easy to install and manage,” Hird says. “The PHP interface is a major part of this as we wanted to remove the need to use multiple screens to get a snapshot of the status. It’s all about ease of use and data protection.”
DR4i also features an e-mail notification system. Administrators can configure the software to automatically send e-mails when certain errors occur. This is one of the more advanced features of RAP that made it into the newer DR4i product.
Shield’s focus with DR4i is on making it easy for System i shops to get better disaster recovery processes in place, without the overhead, cost, and complexity required with HA. Because it’s based on remote journaling, DR4i customers get the same fine-grained recovery point objective (RPO) as their larger HA-using brethren, but without the cost.
While DR4i customers will still need a secondary System i server to take full advantage of the product, that is less of a cost issue than it once was. Alternatively, Shield foresees DR4i playing a role in today’s trend toward hosted services, where bureaus run the secondary DR server for a large number of System i shops.
DR4i version 6.1 (the first public release) is available now. The software works with i5/OS V5R4 and newer versions of IBM i/OS. Pricing for DR4i is tier-based and starts at $2,500. This includes permission to use the product on two journals. The software can work with more journals for an additional fee starting at $500 per journal in the P05 tier. For more information, see the company’s website at www.shield.on.ca.