i5/OS V5R4 and IBM i 6.1 now provide many great backup and recovery enhancements to make your job easier.
There are many new and exciting backup and recovery enhancements with i5/OS V5R4 and IBM i 6.1. One of the key highlights for V5R4 is the capability of saving and restoring using Integrated Virtual Tape. i5/OS Virtual Tape support is unique to i5/OS. It makes use of the disk on the system and does not require a separate hardware device as with other Virtual Tape Library support. i5/OS Virtual Tape support offers a save and restore alternative to the current i5/OS save file support. Software encryption for backups using Backup Recovery and Media Services (BRMS) is a key highlight for IBM i 6.1. Moving backup media offsite for safekeeping incurs the risk of losing media during transport, making encryption of sensitive data an essential safeguard.
In this article, I will discuss these key enhancements along with many other backup and recovery enhancements for i5/OS V5R4 and IBM i 6.1.
i5/OS V5R4 Backup and Recovery Enhancements
Integrated Virtual Tape Support
Integrated Virtual Tape support with V5R4 is a brand new technology that is entirely unique to i5/OS. It's completely integrated into the operating system and makes use of the disk on the system. This new technology is built upon the image catalog support provided under V5R3 for optical "virtual devices." The virtual tape environment behaves as if there were real tape drives with physical tape media. It is a simulated tape environment consisting of the following:
Ÿ Virtual tape drives (up to 35)
Ÿ Virtual tape media (256 maximum per image catalog)
Ÿ One or more image catalogs to hold virtual tapes (known as image catalog entries)
Virtual tape is used just like you use real physical tape media. The save and restore commands along with the Display Tape (DSPTAP) and Check Tape (CHKTAP) commands behave in the same manner with virtual tape as with physical tape. Because virtual tape resides on your system, you still need to duplicate your virtual tape saves to physical tape media for disaster recovery.
There are some key advantages with using virtual tape:
Ÿ May be faster than saving to physical tape--Similar performance as save files; best performance in separate ASP
Ÿ Eliminates save file restrictions--One library per save file; SAVSYS not supported on save file; Parallel saves not supported on save file; One TB size limitation on save file
Ÿ Eliminates tape/media error limitations--Saves won't end due to tape device or media errors; Once Save-while-active checkpoint reached, can't restart due to tape device or media errors
Ÿ Duplication to physical media--When tape devices available; At your convenience
Ÿ Onsite and offsite storage--Keep virtual volumes on system as needed; Keep duplicated volumes on site
If you are only looking for a performance advantage, you will probably not see a performance improvement if compared to saving directly to TS1120/TS1130 or LTO3/LTO4 tape technology. Along with the advantages of virtual tape, there are also some key items to take into consideration when deciding if virtual tape will be a good solution in your environment. The main consideration will be the amount of additional disk required to perform saves to virtual tape. For example, if you want to save 500 GB of data, you will need another 500 GB of additional disk plus about 3 percent more for the tape headers to perform the save to virtual tape. Here are some additional considerations to consider:
Ÿ Disaster recovery--No install from SAVSYS virtual media; D-IPL install from physical media only
Ÿ Data compaction not supported
Ÿ Data compression supported but very low compression; Significant impact on performance
It's always a good idea to carefully test prior to implementing a virtual tape solution.
Backup and Recovery of Spooled Files
i5/OS V5R4 now makes it possible to back up and recover your spooled files using native save and restore commands or menu options. The best part of this new function is that in addition to saving the spooled file data, the following spooled file identity and attributes are preserved:
Ÿ Spooled File Name
Ÿ Spooled File Number
Ÿ Creation Date/Time
Ÿ Fully Qualified Job Name
Ÿ Job System Name
It's very easy to save all of your spooled files if you use the Go Save menu options. The Save menu options include Option 21 to Save the Entire System, Option 22 to Save System Data only, and Option 23 to Save All User Data. Simply change the Spooled file data parameter to *ALL to save the spooled file data for the output queues that are saved.
If you use the SAVLIB (Save Library) or SAVOBJ (Save Object) commands, simply specify SPLFDTA(*ALL). For each output queue that is saved, all available spooled file data is saved.
If you use Backup Recovery and Media Services (BRMS) to save spooled file data and you upgrade to V5R4, BRMS will automatically use the new native save function to save spooled files. This will provide you with a performance benefit over the previous method BRMS used to save spooled file data.
When restoring your spooled files using the Save menu options, the Spooled file data parameter uses the default of *NEW. If you do not wish to restore your saved spooled files, simply change the Spooled file data parameter to *NONE. Likewise, on the Restore Library (RSTLIB) and Restore Object (RSTOBJ) commands, the Spooled file data parameter has the default of *NEW.
To ensure a complete backup and recovery strategy, consider using the new parameters to save spooled file data with V5R4.
Save System Information in a Non-Restricted State
The new Save System Information (SAVSYSINF) command will perform a cumulative save of a subset of system data and objects saved by the Save System (SAVSYS) command without requiring the system to be in a restricted state.
The SAVSYSINF command is not to be considered a replacement for the SAVSYS command and is not to be used for system upgrades or migrations.
After a base SAVSYS is performed, the SAVSYSINF command saves the following:
Ÿ System objects such as job descriptions, job queues, subsystem descriptions, and changed commands
Ÿ System reply lists, service attributes, environment variables, system values required for system recovery, and network attributes
Ÿ Operating system PTFs that are copied into *SERVICE. Use the Change Service Attributes (CHGSRVA) command to modify your service attributes to automatically copy the PTF save files to *SERVICE when loading PTFs.
For system recovery, the licensed internal code (LIC) and operating system will be recovered from your SAVSYS media. You then use your SAVSYSINF media and the Restore System Information (RSTSYSINF) command to restore the saved changes to system objects and PTFs.
BRMS supports this new enhancement with a new special value of *SAVSYSINF that can be specified in a BRMS backup control group.
Backup Recovery and Media Services Enhancements
Backup and recovery keeps getting easier as Backup, Recovery and Media Services (BRMS) delivers significant new functions in V5R4 to simplify and automate system backups and recoveries. BRMS is IBM's strategic backup and recovery product for IBM i. It's a comprehensive tool for managing the backup, archive, and recovery environment for one or more systems in a site, or across a network in which data exchange by media is required.
BRMS iSeries Navigator Enhancements
The BRMS iSeries Navigator client has also added new functions for V5R4 that help to automate backups, perform archive functions, and make backup and recovery easier. Here are some of the highlights:
Ÿ The Archive Policies functionality allows you to create, modify, and run archive policies, manage archive lists, and view archive policy reports.
Ÿ Container management was added and integrated with move policies.
Ÿ Disk pool management allows you to create, update, and manage disk pools.
Ÿ New Global Policy Properties to enable you to filter messages from a BRMS log, distribute BRMS messages electronically to an email address, check online/offline status of systems in the BRMS network, and restricted state interfaces to start.
Ÿ Virtual devices, virtual media, and user-defined media library support were added.
Ÿ New backup control group attributes were incorporated into Backup Policies.
BRMS Parallel Save and Restore for the Integrated File System (IFS)
Parallel save and restore capability is now supported for the Integrated File System (IFS) to enable faster saves with large IFS files. Also, BRMS Backup Control groups using parallel resources are no longer restricted to the type of backup or archive items. Backup Control groups using parallel resources and containing non-parallel save items will automatically switch from parallel to serial as needed.
BRMS Missed-Object Control Group Support
There is a new BRMS backup control group option to create a missed-object control group for locked objects in libraries encountered during a save. You can use the missed-object control group to review objects not saved, or you can run the control group at a time the objects are not locked.
BRMS Recovery of Parallel Saved Items Enhanced
The recovery of parallel saved items has been enhanced in the following ways:
Ÿ The number of parallel devices used for a saved item is clearly displayed.
Ÿ The beginning volume of the parallel media set is shown on the recovery report.
Ÿ Recovery of saved items by media set specifies the volume set.
Ÿ Concurrent recovery by media set minimizes device and volume switches and makes recovery much faster.
IBM i 6.1 Backup Recovery Enhancements
Track Save Option 21 Backup Times
One of the nice enhancements with IBM i 6.1 is in regards to performing an Option 21 save. The new data area called QSRSAV21 in the QUSRSYS library tracks the last five full-system Option 21 saves, showing each command step, the time completed, and the device used for the save. This allows you to analyze where your backup time is being spent during your full-system Option 21 saves.
The Save-while-active function now offers a single Save-while-active checkpoint for multiple saves. The new Start Save Synchronization (STRSAVSYNC) command ensures a single, consistent checkpoint for your library and IFS saves or even a single, consistent checkpoint for multiple concurrent library saves.
Save/Restore Private Authorities with Objects
Moving data to another system has always been a three-step process. The first step is to restore the user profiles for the data, the second step is to restore the data, and the third step is to run the Restore Authority (RSTAUT) command to grant the private authorities to the objects. Now, with IBM i 6.1, you can save and restore the private authorities with the objects when moving data to another system by using the new Private authorities (PVTAUT) parameter on the save and restore commands. The new PVTAUT parameter is intended to be used only when moving objects, not for your system backups as the saves and restores are slower when saving and restoring the private authorities with the objects.
Linux File-Level Backup
Users running Linux on IBM i 6.1 can now save and restore individual Linux files. You can still also save the entire storage spaces for your Linux partitions.
Virtual Storage Space Snapshot Saves
In regards to saving storage spaces, IBM i 6.1 provides the capability to save your iSCSI or Guest network server storage spaces while they are active by specifying *YES on the Save active (SAVACT) parameter and *NWSSTG on the Save active option (SAVACTOPT) parameter of the Save Object (SAV) command. This means you no longer have to vary off your network servers to perform the backup.
BRMS System i Navigator and Web Browser Support
The BRMS System i Navigator client has also added significant new function for IBM i 6.1. Here are some of the highlights:
Ÿ Create and manage media policies without media policy being renamed in green-screen view.
Ÿ DVD, CD-ROM, optical libraries, and virtual optical support have been added.
Ÿ File-level backup of Linux or Windows guest operating systems is available.
Ÿ Support for saving and restoring private authorities with the objects has been added.
Ÿ Disk pool management allows you to create, update, and manage disk pools.
Ÿ New Global Policy Properties enable the following: Restore operations from alternate media, use SNA networking, and manage restricted state interfaces.
Ÿ Balance the media ownership to the required number of media needed by systems within the BRMS network (network systems must be running IBM i 6.1).
BRMS with IBM i 6.1 now has Web browser support via IBM Systems Director Navigator for i. You can still use BRMS via green-screen or System i Navigator also.
BRMS DVD/Optical Support
If you perform any saves to DVD, optical libraries, or virtual optical devices, BRMS will now track and manage these saves in addition to tracking and managing your saves to tape or virtual tape media.
BRMS Missed-Object Control Group Support for IFS
With V5R4, BRMS gave us new support for a missed-object control group for objects locked in libraries during a save. With IBM i 6.1, locked objects in the IFS are now included in the missed-object control group support. You can use the missed-object control group to review objects not saved, or you can run the control group at a time the objects are not locked.
BRMS Save Journal Receivers Support
To make it easier to save journal receivers, there are two new special values to use in a BRMS control group. The *ALLCHGRCV special value will save journal receivers in user libraries that have never been saved or that have changed since they were last saved. The *ALLDTCRCV special value will save all detached journal receivers in user libraries that have never been saved or that have changed since they were last saved.
BRMS Software Backup Encryption
Due to regulatory compliance needs, many customers now have requirements to encrypt their backup tapes. IBM's Backup Recovery and Media Services product now supports backup encryption with IBM i 6.1. For encryption support, you will need to install BRMS, including the Advanced feature of BRMS along with the Encrypted Backup Enablement feature, which is Option 44 of the operating system. With BRMS software encryption, you cannot encrypt the operating system, which includes the *SAVSYS, *SAVSYSINF, *SAVSECDTA, and *SAVCFG special values. You also cannot encrypt any libraries that begin with a "Q," such as the QBRM, QUSRBRM, QSYS2, QGPL, and QUSRSYS libraries. There is a performance overhead when performing software encryption. You should expect your saves to take twice as long. The alternative to software encryption without the restrictions and without performance impacts is to use hardware encryption for your backups with a fibre-attached LTO4 or TS1120/TS1130 tape library.
Recovery for Physical and Logical Files
The last backup and recovery enhancement for IBM i 6.1 that I will discuss is what I consider the very best enhancement. Users have been waiting quite some time for this, and it benefits any system recovery. When you have physical files and logical files in different libraries, the physical file needs to be restored first; otherwise, the logical file does not restore. A second restore to restore the logicals can be very painful and take a significant amount of your valuable recovery time. This recovery situation is now fixed with IBM i 6.1. If you're restoring your system with Restore Menu Options 21, 22, or 23 or if you're using the RSTLIB command with *NONSYS, *IBM, or *ALLUSR, or if you're using BRMS to recover your system, there are no additional steps and neither is there additional time required to restore the missed logicals.
Backup and Recovery Made Simple
As you can see, the many great backup and recovery enhancements in i5/OS V5R4 and IBM i 6.1 make backup and recovery easier. Once you have implemented any of these new backup and recovery enhancements, be sure to always test your recovery strategy using the new enhancements you have implemented.