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Partner TechTip: Advance Your DR Strategy Beyond Tape Backups and Hot Sites

High Availability / Disaster Recovery
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If you're an IT manager in the south, I sympathize with what you go through every summer and fall. When hurricane warnings roll in, there must be some sleepless nights as you ponder the "what-ifs" of restoring business-critical systems and applications should they be damaged.

If you work for a small company, your disaster recovery (DR) plan likely relies on tape backups and maybe a hot-site contract. Unfortunately, these essential DR elements won't ease the stress that you will face should your facilities become a victim of a destructive storm. Will your backup tapes be complete, accessible, and undamaged? You know everybody in the company will be looking to you to restore the company's systems. And once you have access to a functioning machine, there will be the uncertainty of media failures. Just imagine how long it could take to get the data restored! Furthermore, unless you were using journaling (and consistently saving journal receivers to tape and protecting those tapes offsite), you'll have to manually re-create up to 24 hours worth of transactions.

The only way to alleviate much of this anxiety caused by disasters (as well as plain old hardware failures) is to implement a dual-system high availability (HA) solution that mirrors essential data in real time to a second iSeries (preferably located offsite, out of harm's way). But like many IT folks who work for small companies, you probably think you can't afford an HA solution and the staff to operate it. However, although it used to be true that HA was expensive and complex, both cost and complexity have plummeted in recent years. Small companies can now enjoy rapid, reliable, complete data recovery in case of a system failure.

The Components of HA

How has this huge change in price and complexity come about?

Hardware

IBM has been aggressive in current pricing of the box. Additionally, IBM offers discounts to companies purchasing a second machine specifically for HA. Keep in mind that you don't necessarily need the same size machine for backup as you have for production. Depending on how many applications and users you want to engage on your backup environment during downtimes, you may only need to provide system access to critical users and workloads until the production environment is restored. So you might be able to get by with a modestly configured, very affordable Model 520.

Software

HA software executes, manages, and monitors the replication and mirroring of business-critical applications and data to the backup machine. It also provides the ability to move users and processes to the backup machine during downtime. An HA software license costs 30% to 70% less than it did a few years ago. Because the software license cost is much lower today, annual support/maintenance fees are also less.

Bandwidth

If the backup iSeries is located offsite (recommended for true DR protection), sufficient communication capacity is needed to accommodate the amount of data flowing to it from the production machine. One gift that the "dot bomb" gave us was increased communication infrastructure and unused bandwidth. Supply and demand has forced bandwidth to be sold at a fraction of the cost it used to be. And if you can't store your backup machine in a safe location, not to worry. Many HA companies work with partners that will economically host your backup environment at their facility.

Management

Staff must monitor and manage the data mirroring processes daily to ensure mirrored data is accurate and useable when needed. Advanced HA technology integrates the latest autonomic technologies (self-healing, self-managing), significantly reducing the manpower needed to monitor/manage the product. This process now typically takes less than half an hour per day, which dramatically reduces HA's soft costs.

HA for $50 a Day?

iTera has pioneered the push to drive down the cost of HA in the iSeries market. Because of its efforts, other HA vendors have followed suit. Recently, iTera introduced a campaign to make HA even easier for small companies to afford by offering a complete HA package (including hardware) for $50 a day. This includes a new System i5, licenses for full-featured Echo2 HA software, software implementation, training, and even a support/maintenance contract.

Learn More

Learn more about HA by visiting the MC Press Resource Center and selecting the free white paper iSeries High Availability: Why It Has Become So Affordable and Easy to Use.

Debbie Lewis is director of marketing at iTera, Inc. a premier provider of high availability software for the IBM iSeries (System i5). For more information, call 800.957.4511 (in the U.S. and Canada) or 801.799.0300. Or email Debbie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Simon O?Sullivan

Simon O’Sullivan is senior vice president of Maxava, the worldwide provider of innovative IBM i high availability and disaster recovery software solutions. He previously worked with IBM for 10 years on international implementation projects in England, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. He can be reached at simon.osullivan@maxava.com.

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