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Moving backup off the mainframe

Ezine

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How we chose our librarys
We had three objectives. They were: save money, enhance support in our open systems environment and choose a stable vendor with good service. The product we used had to meet five criteria:
We took into account which platforms it supported.
The platform for the backup server had

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to be robust enough to handle our 25GB nightly load from 40 clients.
The client platforms had to include any of our current operating systems (NetWare, AIX, Windows NT and Windows 2000).
We required clients for any OS we were likely to support in the near future, such as Linux or AS/400.
The database agents supported (Hobart required agents for the DB2, Oracle, MS-SQL and Lotus Domino databases).

Backup software synergies
The backup software costs were also reduced under Unix. An upfront purchase cost of $35,000 netted a reduction in maintenance from $19,000 to $5,800 per year. Staying with the same product line allowed us to retain experience and maintain continuity. The TSM backup server's administrative interface is extremely uniform across platforms. TSM Windows server administration used in training classes is essentially identical to the administration under the z/OS and AIX operating systems. On our clients, the only configuration change was to the name of the backup server.

The hardware and software installation and initial client tests were completed in one month. All of the remaining clients were converted the following month.

Most enterprise backup products provide scheduling. In addition to scheduling backups, this controls tape recycling, making off-site copies and flushing disk cache. Using time-released commands can also provide simple monitoring, such as an hourly count of active sessions.

By implementing TSM's hierarchical storage structure, we took advantage of available disk space on the Unix box to cache smaller backups and migrate them en masse to tape. This allows more backup sessions to run concurrently and reduces the number of tape mounts.

Using an enterprise-class product can also provide disaster recovery management. This should at least provide an off-site inventory and track tapes in transit to and from the off-site location. More sophisticated implementations can contain a database of hardware system descriptions for disaster recovery and can generate detailed instructions for recovery at a new location.

Additionally, most enterprise backup products offer retention options, such as classifying files by drive, by directory, by extension or by using generic characters.

Since we switched to the open system Unix solution, our daily backups are running almost routinely. The automated Cron scripts and tape robotics have helped cut errors tremendously. In fact, problems are becoming rare.

This was first published in March 2003

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