Vision Unveils New Entry-Level DR Solution for IBM i
May 14, 2013 Alex Woodie
Vision Solutions last week unveiled MIMIX DR, a new disaster recovery (DR) product designed to help eliminate data loss and speed the recovery of systems and applications following a disaster at smaller IBM i sites. MIMIX DR uses the same data and object replication capabilities that are found in the full MIMIX high availability (HA) offering. But MIMIX DR lacks the automated failover capabilities of MIMIX HA, and instead uses a manual failover process.
Just like the full MIMIX HA product, MIMIX DR uses IBM remote journaling (RJ) technology to replicate all changes made to DB2/400 data and IBM i objects on a production IBM i server to a backup server. Depending on whether synchronous RJ or asynchronous RJ is being used, this technique provides a very good recovery point objective (RPO), and promises that a user will lose very few transactions–if any–in the moments just prior to an unexpected outage.
To that end, the RPO of MIMIX DR is identical to MIMIX Availability. The products share a GUI, in the form of the Vision Solutions Portal (VSP), and share the same eight-level auditing features. Vision didn’t leave out coverage of any IBM i objects with MIMIX DR. It has almost everything in the full MIMIX Availability product, save for some advanced replication and auditing functions.
The major difference between MIMIX DR from MIMIX Availability (aside from price) is the lack of automated failover capabilities in MIMIX DR. A user of MIMIX DR would need to manually execute the failover to the backup system, including shutting down replication and redirecting users to the backup system. Following the steps in the failover run book would probably take several hours to do properly, thereby providing a recovery time objective (RTO) that is considerably longer than the RTO of an HA solution, which could range from several minutes to zero with a fully clustered system.
MIMIX DR is aimed at small and midsize businesses (SMBs) that can’t justify the cost of implementing a full HA solution, but who need a better RPO and data protection than what tape can offer, Becky Hjelming, Vision’s senior manager of product strategy for IBM Power solutions, tells IT Jungle.
“Currently most of these folks are either using no DR solution, a hope-for-the-best solution, or a tape-based strategy, but they realize that the time between backups exposes them to data loss,” Hjelming (pronounced “GEL-ming”) says. “So they need a better recovery point than they can get from tape and they also need a better recovery time that what they’re getting from tape, because tape recoveries can be really complex.”
Vision also hopes to sell MIMIX DR to IBM i shops that are using data vaulting solutions and snap-shot-based solutions, such as its own MIMIX RecoverNow offering. These products don’t offer the RPO that a fully replicated IBM i environment can offer. They also have longer RTOs, because the data is not being replicated to a backup IBM i server that’s ready to become the production system in a short matter of time. With tape, vaulting, and snap-shot-based DR offerings, the data isn’t stored on spinning IBM i disk, and an entire server must be provisioned before any recovery can take place.
Doug Piper, vice president of product strategy for Vision, says MIMIX RecoverNow serves a purpose and will continue to be developed and supported by Vision. But Vision clearly sees MIMIX DR filling a gap in the product lineup.
“With MIMIX RecoverNow, you have the ability to get your data offsite and secure that data to a place that didn’t require you to have a second IBM i footprint, and that had advantages from a cost perspective,” Piper tells us. “But you would have to manually restore that system when [the data] was restored. MIMIX DR gives you a step ahead where you actually do have a second IBM i standing at the ready to bring that application back online. It’s just going to require some manual steps to bring it online.”
Vision stresses that MIMIX DR is not an HA offering, and is not designed to eliminate all forms of downtime. “Because it is a DR solution, it really is there for when they’ve lost the system or lost the site, as opposed to being there to eliminate any kind of planned or unplanned downtime,” Hjelming says.
IBM i shops that think they might want to eliminate planned downtime due to system upgrades, or who think they would like to move back and forth between production and backup systems quite often, would be better served by a full HA offering, Piper adds.
“We’re trying to strike a balance between what a customer would be doing with tape versus a full HA solution. We’re trying to straddle that middle ground,” Piper says. “People shouldn’t be thinking of this as cheap high availability. They should think of it as a higher level of protection than tape, rather than poor man’s HA.”
MIMIX DR customers can either use a second IBM i server as a target, or rent IBM i capacity from one of the private cloud vendors in the market. Vision recently established a new cloud initiative for selling recovery as a service (RaaS), and MIMIX DR figures to play heavily in this program.
One of these cloud providers, Baseline Data Services, has already signed on to provide MIMIX DR as a service to IBM i shops. Bob Morici, director of technical sales for the Indiana company, says MIMIX DR can help eliminate the potential catastrophe of losing several hours worth of transactions. “MIMIX DR creates a safety net that captures the transactions between periodic backups so there is no data loss, and helps them get their businesses back online rapidly,” Morici says in a press release.
Piper says MIMIX DR will cost about half what Vision charges for an entry-level HA offering, such as MIMIX Availability Professional or iTera Availability. Piper refused to provide specific pricing, citing the highly competitive nature of Vision’s partner channel. Suffice it to say, if the price of the full enterprise version of MIMIX started with a four, and the price of either of the entry-level HA solutions started with a two, the price tag on MIMX DR would likely start with a one.
There is one more restriction that Vision places on MIMIX DR: it can only run on servers with one to four cores in the P05 and P10 tiers. Large companies with big IBM i workloads won’t be able to adopt this offering, as they will be encouraged to buy the full HA offering. For more information, see www.visionsolutions.com.