4 Disaster Recovery Services That Can Improve your IBM i Recoverability

Laurie Leblanc
Laurie LeBlanc, iTech Solutions

Being prepared is the first step in any Disaster Recovery (DR) plan. That means you need to make a plan and test it. Only then are you truly prepared for a disaster. You need to practice your DR plan if you want to ensure that it is successful when you really need it.

When I was a kid, my uncle came over and made sure that we knew what to do if there was a fire in our house. He taught us to touch the doorknobs to see if it was warm and had us practice climbing out the window and going to the designated meeting place. We practiced our fire drill to be sure we were prepared.

Backups

Many companies rely on backups as their DR plan. If their system crashes, they have the data from the last save. They can restore that tape to another system, and they can survive without the lost data. Companies must decide if they can live with the loss of data or not. This is known as the RPO (recovery point objective), which is a critical component in a DR plan.

While many companies have backups that they can restore, many don’t have a second system sitting around.  The cost of having redundant hardware is cost-prohibitive for many companies. It’s not just the redundant hardware cost, but also a second data center to house the infrastructure. The cost is not justifiable, especially given IBM i’s rock-solid availability.

Disaster Recovery Services available in the cloud can help you fill this gap in your DR plan and be more easily cost-justified.  Let’s take a look at four options that can help you improve your IBM i recoverability.

DR On Demand

DR on Demand is an excellent option for companies who want to have a system on stand by in a disaster, but they don’t want to spend money on redundant hardware. With iTech’s DR on Demand service, you have a skinny LPAR allocated to you, which reserves your resources (CPW, memory, and disk) should you have a disaster.  If you declare a disaster, your LPAR is expanded, and your backup is restored in our cloud.

The thing to consider with DR on Demand is, how do we get your data, and how long does it take to get to us?  You have to ship us the tape, and then it has to be restored.  Tape restores take time.  The type of media and the amount of data will determine how long it takes to restore.  The time that this whole process takes is called the RTO (recovery time objective).  RTO is based on how long you are willing to wait for your users to access the system following a disaster.

Shortening the RTO is something most companies want to improve.  The longer it takes to recover, the longer the business is down and the higher the costs.  One way to improve the RTO is to use a Virtual Tape  Library for backups.

The other component of DR on Demand is a recovery test. If you haven’t done a DR test, then you may not have a DR plan. I say this because there’s a good chance that you didn’t think of something, and therefore you can’t fully recover.  Many factors can affect your ability to recover, and you have to be sure you know what they all are. Don’t worry. We won’t leave you to figure it out alone. Our service will expand the system resources (CPW, memory, and disk), and we will restore your environment and help you access it.  Then we provide you up to 30 days to test to be sure everything works as expected.  You’d be surprised at how many times companies miss critical files that they think they can recover.

VTL Replication Services

VTL’s are faster than tape at both backup and restores.  The other great benefit of VTL’s is they have replication.  If you take your tapes offsite (like you should), you have some storage and tape handling costs. You also have to get the tape back from storage to restore, which may or may not be easy.

VTL’s can use hardware replication and get your backups offsite to a second device.  This process is automatic and only replicates the changes, which speeds up the replication process. Companies often don’t have a second site where they can house a second unit.

VTL replication services fill this gap.  You rent space on a VTL in the cloud, where you replicate your backups.  You have your backups offsite quickly and securely.  An added benefit of our replication service is that we have IBM i LPARs available for a restore.  Couple this with DR on Demand, and you can reduce your RTO significantly.

Warm DR

For those who want an even faster restore,  you can have a full LPAR in the cloud that you can restore your backups as often as you wish.  The difference between this and DR on Demand is you have the full LPAR available all the time.  If you have a disaster, you restore your last backup, and you’re all set.

If you have VTL replication, you have the best solution because your last backup is already in the data center.  The speed of the restore is also faster from the VTL, which will shorten the RTO.

High Availability

If your business can’t afford downtime or lost transactions, then HA may be the best solution for you.  Purchasing duplicate infrastructure and the supporting environment can be expensive.  There’s also the cost of the replication solution.  With HA in the cloud, we can host your infrastructure and provide you with MIMIX for replication for a monthly fee.  Instead of making capital investments, your high availability solution is a fixed operating cost.

We recommend you consider these four options when developing your DR plan. Depending on your RPO and RTO, we can help you devise a DR plan to balance the cost with the risk.  Book a meeting with us to schedule a meeting to discuss your DR needs.

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