Storagepipe Takes Aim At IBM i Tape Backup And Recovery
March 16, 2015 Dan Burger
In the IBM midrange, tape backup is what we do. None of the backup alternatives are even a close second. Internet-based vaulting services, however, continue to make inroads as organizations study ways to achieve quicker recovery times without stepping into the high cost and high complexity of high availability. One of the service companies to keep an eye on is the off-site backup company Storagepipe Solutions.
Why are so many organizations completely dependent on tape backup? And why are data recovery plans often an afterthought? You might actually be one of the companies that have given some thought to topics such as the ease of recovering data after the system goes down for whatever reason. You might also be under pressure from business lines that shrink backup windows. And you might also be asking yourself why your IT staff spends as much time as it does on a task that brings nothing to the business bottom line.
When the brain gets wrapped around planning for data recovery, minimizing data loss gets most of the attention. Getting back up and running in an hour or less is a secondary priority for the majority of organizations that spend time thinking about this. Circumstances vary depending on a number of factors such as the type of business and the tolerance for downtime. One company’s business continuity is another company’s disaster. Everyone would like to have high availability environments, with essentially no downtime to worry about, but we’re still waiting for the day when that becomes affordable for the average IT shop.
Companies that require high availability are less than 10 percent of the customer base, says Storagepipe CEO Steven Rodin. From Rodin’s perspective, a larger portion of the IBM i community can live without their IBM i for a day or maybe even two days. That’s a reasonable time frame.
Storagepipe is based in Toronto, Canada. Its IBM i-centric customers are evenly divided between Canada and the United States, Rodin says. The managed service provider has a data center in Toronto and another in Texas.
“Some companies only have certain systems that are critical to be backed up. The IBM i is one of those,” he says.
Storagepipe has been backing up IBM midrange servers since 2001. The process involves installing a local appliance server on the IBM i. The installed backup software has access to all of the system resources while providing local backup functionality. Storagepipe combines this with data replication to off-site backup in its datacenter. This approach results in a local copy and an outside copy.
Red flag warning! You will find people who will scream about loading software with access to system resources, but get a second opinion before amputating this idea. And before you do that, watch this five-minute video on the topic of backup agents on IBM Power Systems.
Storagepipe, like other Internet-based storage service providers, promotes the advantages of its offering compared to tape. Primarily the advantages include centralized backup processes, reduced backup windows, and data that is sent off-site immediately into the cloud. Compare this to the labor-intensive work associated with on-site tape backups, extended backup windows, and inconsistent backup processes that are prone to mistakes.
“Backup is like a chore. It takes a lot of effort to do properly,” says Patrick Jobin, a sales and marketing representative at Storagepipe. “It’s not just about the cloud. The cloud is a tool. It’s just like any tool. It’s how the tool is used that makes the difference.”
When it comes to managed backup, the best tool is having a team of people who are supervising the backups and monitoring for success or failure. The team makes sure there are no issues so that in the event a recovery is necessary in the future everything is where it is expected to be.
For those looking beyond the short-comings of the 100 percent tape-based backup system, it’s the capability to quickly and properly restore backups and do so within a reasonable budget that avoids the pain.
There are many reasons why companies continue to do tape backup, Rodin says. “Some companies are only backing up certain aspects of their systems. They may continue doing system backups using tape regardless of our capabilities to do system backups to disk at our replication site. Tape can be a personal preference for some companies that have tape as part of their comfort zone. But we are seeing less and less of that.”