Product Review: Maximum Availability's *noMAX

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With global instability, technology development in hyper-drive, an increasingly competitive commercial environment, and the sheer volume of data, business continuity is a central operational and management issue for companies of all sizes. For most companies, ensuring the security, integrity, and accessibility of data is no longer just an option.

Currently, an estimated 95% of the System i user community relies on tape backup as its data protection strategy. There's nothing really wrong with that as long as you understand that the best you can hope to recover are archived records that are valid only up to the point of the last tape save. Depending on the company's tape backup schedule, this data can be as old as 24 hours—perhaps older. In addition, tapes continually have to be moved and safely stored, which entails no inconsequential security risks of loss, theft, and compromise. If a system is down during a planned interruption—an application upgrade for example—tapes can be made to the point of shutdown, but during unplanned events, it is a different story. The unpredictability of tape underscores the fact that if you rely on periodic backups, you may face fatal data loss or lengthy reconstructions. Several days of data recovery is not unrealistic.

Fortunately, the advent of IBM's remote journaling technology, aggressive downward price movement in System i hardware, new technologies, and the availability of more bandwidth at lower prices have given impetus to companies of all sizes to examine the benefits of high availability replication solutions.

Global Reach

A pace-setter in the field of System i high availability is Maximum Availability, a New Zealand–based company created in 1999 by several IBM veterans with extensive experience in the telecommunications and data communications industries. Maximum Availability offers a suite of three products that utilize the latest OS/400 (i5/OS) and remote journaling technologies to capture data and replicate changes on the primary database to a mirrored database copy—whether to a separate environment on the same machine or multiple machines.

Maximum Availability approaches the market with a devout appreciation for the cost constraints of the IT universe, allowing entry-level data replication (*noMAX sentry) at an extremely affordable price and providing a clear and uncomplicated upgrade path through the mid-level (*noMAX defender) to a high-end solution (*noMAX garrison).

Maximum Availability has gone from strength to strength with the *noMAX suite of products, which are now installed at several hundred System i sites in some 30 countries worldwide and are marketed through numerous international locations and through a network of strategic alliances and partnerships. The company has also registered well with IBM, with its products being recognized as "Server Proven" and the company having won a 2006 IBM System i5 General Manager's Award in the Asia Pacific region.

Choice and Scalability

As just mentioned, *noMAX sentry is an excellent low-cost entry point for many companies. While it is capable of running in multiple System i environments, it actually requires only a single machine to house both the primary and the target data repositories. It can replicate data files (PF, DTAQ, DTAARA), which is adequate for 99% of applications.

The company's *noMAX defender and *noMAX garrison products can replicate between multiple environments (as well as on a single system) and can replicate more than 40 types of objects, including data, program objects, user profiles (USRPRF), and IFS.

Even with cross-environment data replication in place, most companies still want tape backups as a contingency, which is why all three *noMAX solutions feature Maximum Availability's unique Library Redirect feature. This technology enables full replication within a single system without using an LPAR, which allows users to continue working during the tape backup process because tapes are created from a secondary database.

Unlike high availability solutions that market separate modules for replication of data, objects, and IFS, *noMAX has a single integrated process for all three. This reduces the complexity of the replication process for the operations staff while simplifying implementation and maintenance processes.

Because of the bandwidth efficiency of remote journaling, *noMAX can provide real-time data integrity by processing both "before" and "after" images of updated file members on the secondary database. If a mismatch is detected during data comparison, replication on the secondary database is suspended, a message is sent to the operator to resolve it, and *noMAX catches up fully when the error has been managed. All the while, real-time replication continues uninterrupted on the unaffected data stream.

Because *noMAX uses remote journaling, any native System i communications process can be used for replication, including TCP/IP, SNA, or VPN over the Internet. In addition, remote journaling bandwidth requirements are lower than those of replication solutions with proprietary transfer processes.

GUI-Based Management

The *noMAX graphical user interface (GUI) is straightforward, intuitive, and menu-driven, enabling users to easily manage their systems as well as monitor from a single display the activities taking place in multiple environments.

GUI capabilities include the following:

  • Viewing and selecting objects by apply groups, member status, or library
  • Setting defaults and creating configuration descriptions
  • Creating apply groups and assigning files, file members, and/or objects
  • Creating IFS configurations and assigning paths to be replicated
  • Displaying the *noMAX configurations and components
  • Maintaining configuration, apply group, and assignment allocations
  • Starting/stopping the replication process
  • Displaying *noMAX replication status and viewing configuration message logs
  • Viewing advanced saved details management
  • Managing triggers and constraints
  • Accessing the GUI toolset for set-up, management, and monitoring

Comprehensive, Cost-Effective Data Protection

The three levels of *noMAX replication solutions are designed to be easily installed and easily upgraded over a simple, straightforward migration path. Installation can be accomplished in just a few hours, and upgrades can be completed in a similar amount of time. Combine this with very affordable pricing, and the result is comprehensive, cost-effective protection of business information against downtime and data loss for organizations of all sizes. And because data protection and availability are no longer luxuries, this is a very good thing.

Victor Wortman is a freelance technology writer based in Santa Monica, California. The author can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Maximum Availability
Level 1, Building G
29 William Pickering Drive
Albany , Auckland 1311
New Zealand
Web: www.maximumavailability.com
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel (US and Canada): 888.400.1541
Tel (All other countries): +64.9.415.7008

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