Use mainframes for backups


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Put your company's big iron to work to back up open-systems storage more efficiently.

Most large companies have a mix of multiplatform IT environments: mainframe, Unix, Linux and Windows. Typically, these environments don't share software, staff, and disk and tape resources. But with a few caveats, there are considerable advantages to using a mainframe to back up all of an organization's data to streamline backup and disaster recovery (DR) operations.

Take critical applications, for example, that mostly run on integrated multiplatform systems. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) application such as SAP includes back-end databases running on the mainframe, application processing on Unix servers and Web interfaces running on Windows. There's usually a large amount of data transferred between these environments via FTP, extracts and dumps. This creates a lot of overhead and, at times, impacts the availability and service-level agreements of the business applications. In addition, DR plans for these critical apps are sometimes separate for each storage environment. This makes the data more difficult or impossible to recover because of the following:

  • Parts of the data are backed up at different times and aren't synchronized.
  • Data is backed up using different tools such as Innovation Data Processing's (IDP) FDR on the mainframe, IBM Corp.'s Tivoli Storage Manager on Unix and

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  • Veritas Software Corp.'s Backup Exec for Windows Servers (now owned by Symantec Corp.).
  • The data is placed on different tape drives and media such as IBM's 3590 tape drives for the mainframe, Storage Technology Corp.'s (StorageTek, now part of Sun Microsystems) 9940 on Unix and LTO tapes on Windows. There are also different tape handling processes, labeling, vaulting and staff.

This was first published in November 2005

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