IBM Adds Public Cloud Targets For IBM i Cloud Backup
September 27, 2021 Alex Woodie
The cloud has become a popular place for organizations to store backups. And with the recent Technology Refreshes (TRs) for IBM i, the number of targets for the Cloud Storage Solutions for i has increased significantly.
IBM debuted Cloud Storage Solutions for i back in 2016 as a connector that allowed Backup, Recovery, and Media Services (BRMS) to push IBM i backups over the Amazon S3 protocol to the Cleversafe object storage system running in SoftLayer, the public cloud platform that would become IBM Cloud in 2018 (IBM would subsequently rename Cleversafe as IBM Cloud Object Storage).
IBM has augmented Cloud Storage Solutions for i (product number 5733-ICC) over the years. For example, in 2017 it rescinded the 1 TB backup limit and added support for encryption and compression (although the product is still limited to backing up 2 TB per day). Then in 2018, IBM added the capability to restore backups to an IBM i server that wasn’t the original server, which made it actually useful for disaster recovery (DR) purposes.
With IBM i 7.3 TR11 and 7.4 TR5, IBM is throwing open the door on the public cloud platforms supported by the offering. Specifically, it is now officially supporting Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Storage as targets for IBM i backups, adding to the previous support for IBM Cloud Object Storage and IBM Spectrum Protect (which IBM previously announced this summer).
The company also increased the maximum size of objects that can be saved, and made some tweaks to speed up the data transfers to the cloud. According to the Cloud Storage Solutions for i page on the IBM wiki, these changes were the result of adding support for multi-threaded and multi-part (variable sized) uploads.
The expansion in supported cloud targets in the product were made at the request of IBM i customers, according to Steve Will, the chief architect for IBM i.
“We would love everybody used IBM Cloud Object Storage for everything that they do,” Will told IT Jungle. “But we recognize that we have clients who’ve already made a corporate decision that they’re going to store everything in Google Cloud Storage, and so we wanted to make sure that that wasn’t a sticking point. . . . We want to make sure they can do that.”
IBM did not work with AWS or Google Cloud to enable IBM Cloud Object Storage for i to work with their cloud services. According to Will, IBM worked with open APIs that the two cloud platforms provide for accessing their resources. “It’s an open service call that’s well documented,” he said. “They just make it available to anybody who wants to use it.”
IBM i shops distribute their data all over the place, including to different storage media types and file systems. Undoubtedly, some enterprising IBM i shops have figured out how to get their backups to non-IBM object storage systems, perhaps via data replication or virtual tape library (VTL) setups.
Needless to say, with this update, IBM has put its stamp of approval on AWS and Google Cloud as targets for IBM i backups, said IBM i Offering Manager Alison Butterill. “If they were doing it before and it was working, great,” Butterill said. “But this just allows it to be more official, if you will, from an IBM i perspective.”
Despite the enhancements, IBM Cloud Storage Solutions (which was originally developed by Rocket Software) is still not intended to be used by large organizations that need to back up more than 2TB of data per day. “Cloud connectivity was not developed as a replacement alternative for physical or [VTL] devices,” HelpSystems says on its wiki for the product.
IBM Cloud Solutions for i does, however, support parallel backup and restore functions using FlashCopy in 7.3 and 7.4. For more information, see www.ibm.com/support/pages/ibm-cloud-storage-solutions-i.