Bug Busters Strengthens Object Comparison in HA Software
June 4, 2013 Alex Woodie
One of the bugaboos with high availability (HA) environments is keeping objects in sync. If objects on a backup machine aren’t kept up with those on the primary system, a failover may not go as planned, or the organization may just feel that it’s too risky to attempt. Bug Busters Software Engineering has addressed this concern with a new feature in RSF-HA version 9.2 that compares objects, libraries, and IFS directories on the primary and backup servers while the primary system is still online and in use.
Because data and object sync checks are so important, every HA software product in the IBM i marketplace has them. Bug Busters also has supplied object sync check capabilities in the HA version of its Remote Software Facility product, called RSF-HA. There’s nothing unique or special about that.
However, until the version 9.2 release that Bug Busters shipped in May, the object synch check could not be run during replication. This meant that RSF-HA customers had to make sure that the production machine was offline or not in use before performing the synch checks. As downtime windows shrink, IBM i shops find it increasingly difficult to find the time to perform these checks.
The new Compare While Active (CMPACT) function in RSF-HA 9.2 eliminates this challenge by enabling customers to check the synchronization status of objects, libraries, and IFS directories while the production server is still online and processing transactions. CMPACT can run in the background all the time, providing an ongoing comparison of objects on the primary and source machine that’s accurate down to the byte level.
Bug Busters says CMPACT works much like the Save While Active function, which is used by many IBM i shops to reduce or eliminate the need for downtime to run backups. CMPACT utilizes IBM‘s journaling functions and checkpoints to take a snapshot of each production object being examined, Bug Busters says. The software then compares this to a time-equivalent snapshot of the object on the backup machine. The function takes a few seconds to analyze each object, on average. Users can optionally tell CMPACT to analyze database files, which will take longer.
CMPACT generates a report that users can analyze to ascertain whether objects, libraries, and directories are identical on the production and backup machines. If differences are discovered, the user can dig into the job logs to see the exact nature of the difference.
But knowing there’s a difference between objects is often more critical than knowing exactly what the differences are, says Bug Busters president Bruce Lesnick. “In most practical applications, the exact nature of the difference between two objects is less important than simply knowing whether they do or do not match exactly,” Lesnick says via email.
Bug Busters has also made it easier to completely remove a library or directory from replication. Previously, this was a several step process that involved manually ending any active replication jobs for the entry and then manually removing any associated replication journals. With version 9.2, RSF-HA can now handle this process automatically, including eliminating the library and IFS sync attributes and the local, remote, and standby journals.
Maintaining data or object synchronizations should be easier thanks to changes Bug Busters made in version 9.2 with the Work With Sync Attributes display. Bug Busters included new options that allow the user to check the status of sync attributes, including detailed information about the journals, apply and transfer lag, and the last checkpoint. Users can also delete or work with replication spool files as well.
This release also brings enhancements for scheduling of replication jobs. Bug Busters now lets users set the exact start and stop time for each task in RSF-HA. It also gives users the capability to set the frequency of replication jobs, such as running a job at a particular time every day, or running a job every 10 minutes, but only during certain parts of the day, or except between certain hours.
More than 100 organizations are using the HA version of RSF, which the company first started selling back in 2006. “Business is great,” Lesnick says. “We are selling licenses steadily. Not infrequently, users are replacing competing products with RSF-HA. We have put such an emphasis on automation, ease-of-use, and reliability in how the software is built that users need to access technical support far less than one might expect for an application of this complexity.”
RSF 9.2 is available now. For a complete list of enhancements, see www.bugbusters.net/rsf_new.htm.