Automate your backups with save-while-active.
Although the save-while-active feature for backups has been around for many years, a lot of customers are afraid to use this parameter in their save commands. They may have heard something bad about the process at a conference, or they may have tried it and it didn't work. I've found the parameter to be very helpful, but you have to understand how best to use it.
The best way to use the parameter is to get your end users out of the application or to shut down any application that's using the library you want to back up. This is where the confusion comes from. The fact that the parameter is called save-while-active implies that you should be able to back up all objects in a library while an application is active. My opinion is that the parameter should be called "reduce your backup window," but no one would get excited about that.
What if your backups currently take two hours and your end users have to be out of the application for that entire time? What if I told you that you could reduce the time users have to be out from two hours to 10 minutes? Would you be excited about save-while-(almost)-active now? Of course you would. Take a look at the following scenario:
- 8:00 p.m.—Shut down your application (end the subsystem your users are logged into).
- 8:00 p.m.—Save the application library with the save-while-active parameter set to *LIB.
- 8:00 p.m.—Specify a message queue on the save-while-active message queue parameter.
- 8:00 p.m.—Have a program monitor the message queue looking for message ID CPI3710.
- 8:10 p.m.—CPI 3710 arrives on your message queue and you restart your application or subsystem.
- 10:00 p.m.—Your backup is complete.
Reduce Your Backup Window and Automate the Process
Robot/SAVE, Help/Systems' backup and recovery software for IBM i, lets you specify the save-while-active parameter on your backups. With Robot/SAVE, there's no programming involved to set up the backups. The product shuts down your application (Step 1) and supports the save-while-active operation (steps 2, 3, and 6 above ). See Figure 1.
Figure 1: A Robot/SAVE backup set supports the save-while-active parameter. (Click images to enlarge.)
Automate Message Queue Monitoring
The next issue is automating the monitoring of message ID CPI3710 (step 4). This message arrives on your message queue when the operating system successfully reaches a checkpoint. This usually occurs during a 5- to 20-minute time period, depending on the library and its contents. Robot/CONSOLE, from Help/Systems, can automatically monitor a message queue and execute commands based on the arrival of a message. Again, there's no programming involved for you, and you can just call our support line if you need help.
Figure 2 shows the CPI3710 message. The library name, ROBOTLIB, replaces the variable in the message.
Figure 2: Message ID CPI3710 is received from a save-while-active backup.
Start Your Application
Reducing your backup window is successful only if your users can get back to work sooner. Robot/CONSOLE allows you to call a program to restart your application (step 5) with powerful IF-THEN-ELSE logic using OPAL (OPerator Assistance Language), its easy-to-use programming language. Figure 3 shows an OPAL example that took only a couple of minutes to create. It's that simple! And it took the system in this example less than one minute to reach its checkpoint.
Figure 3: Robot/CONSOLE OPAL automates the starting of your application.
For years, Robot/SAVE has been helping customers automate their backups and reduce their backup window. And Robot/CONSOLE has been helping automate message processing. Give either product a free 30-day trial and see how easy it is to automate IBM i save-while-active processing. Also, check out Help/Systems' other offerings in the MC Showcase Buyer's Guide.
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