EMC Touts Successful Data Domain Installation At IBM i Shop
June 25, 2012 Alex Woodie
EMC says the implementation of its Data Domain virtual tape library (VTL) has simplified backup and recoveries at Mid-Continent Group, an insurance company based in Oklahoma. EMC says the move from a tape-based backup strategy to a disk-based one built on Data Domain’s data de-duplication technology will give the IBM i shop speedier recoveries, save money, and free up room in its data center.
Mid-Continent Group is a collection of three insurance companies–Mid-Continent Casualty, Mid-Continent Assurance, and Oklahoma Surety–that are licensed to sell insurance in 33 states. The group, which itself is owned by the $1.1 billion American Financial Group, and its 547 agencies are primarily underwriters of commercial casualty insurance policies through the Independent Insurance Agency system, although they also sell umbrella, inland marine, commercial auto, and surety insurance products.
The Tulsa-based company has been an IBM i shop for many years, and has invested in IBM i software from a variety of third-party vendors, including ASNA‘s .NET development tools and iWay Software‘s data cleansing tools, to help it manage and extend its core RPG-based underwriting system and related business processes. Recently, the company has done business with EMC and adopted some of its storage and data management solutions, including Symmetrix storage arrays and its Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) data replication technology.
Around 2008, Mid-Continent implemented a new disk-based backup system that was composed of EMC’s Legato Networker backup software, its Avamar data de-duplication system, and the EMC Disk Library (EDL) 4100. The new setup replaced IBM‘s Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) and IBM tape drives for a portion of its backups.
That first VTL was a good start for Mid-Continent, and helped it reduce its reliance on tape and get the upper hand with its DR strategy. However, that first VTL only supported the company’s open systems, leaving its IBM i environment stuck on tape. “Our IBM i system data, however, remained a challenge and we had to maintain these legacy systems to address backup and DR for our IBM i environment,” Mid-Continent’s senior iSeries administrator, John Gunnells, says in a press release.
In early 2011, EMC announced IBM i support in its Data Domain products. Soon thereafter, Mid-Continent decided to see if Data Domain could cut some of the fat out of the legacy DR systems (i.e. tape) that it was forced to keep for its critical IBM i gear.
So the company implemented a Data Domain VTL to replace the remaining IBM tape library used for the IBM i data and the EDL 4100 it installed three years earlier to back up the open system data. The implementation worked, and Mid-Continent has been able to go tapeless with its IBM i backups–and is now finally tapeless across the entire company. “It’s been great,” Gunnells says.
Today, Mid-Continent’s IBM i backup process begins with BRMS, the facility that remains the go-to backup tool for tens of thousands of organizations around the world using IBM i and its predecessor operating systems. Every night, BRMS writes 9.5 terabytes of IBM i data to the Data Domain VTL. Thanks to Data Domain’s in-line data de-duplication capabilities, Mid-Continent is able to maintain a year’s worth of IBM i data on the VTL, Mid-Continent’s IT development manager John Pullen says.
The elimination of tape has improved resiliency and recoverability for Mid-Continent, a company that, by the nature of its business and its geographical location in the heart of Tornado Alley, must be extremely averse to taking unnecessary risks.
“With tape being used, the DR timeline for our IBM iSeries was four to five days,” Pullen says in the press release. “In our latest DR test with EMC backup and storage technology, we were up and running in four hours. With Data Domain, we’ve completely automated our [IBM i] backup. No hauling tapes. No misplaced tapes. No costs associated with off-site storage. No chasing our data growth or adding power and floor space.”