Blog November 21, 2013

iSeries Disaster Recovery Options- Don’t Be Left in the Dark

We come across this often. An organization has an iSeries box, but doesn’t have a disaster recovery plan (DR) or a DR site for that matter.  Disasters whether natural, accidental or deliberate are bound to happen and it is extremely important to have a business continuity plan.

Doing this internally is typically very costly. You may have to buy a dedicated box and either rent data center space somewhere or potentially even build a whole other disaster recovery site, not a simple undertaking to say the least (see what to consider when expanding your data center presence). Finding skilled staff and maintaining 24/7 services can prove to be a challenge as well.

This is why customers turn to hosting providers such as Connectria to leverage their infrastructure and be geographically dispersed. Customers in California typically want to be “over the mountains” or east of Denver, companies on the East coast tend to ask for locations West of the Mississippi. Connectria has 4 distinct solutions for iSeries disaster recovery, depending on what the customer’s RTO and RPO would be (definitions at bottom).  Different solutions fit different RTO and RPO objectives, with a higher price for more demanding RTOs and RPOs.

MIMIX Replication: Constant Replication (Quickest Recovery Time)

For mission critical applications with a RTO and a RPO of only a couple of hours we recommend using a highly available (HA) replication process. At Connectria we use MIMIX replication software although there are other alternatives such as iTera. This option provides the quickest recovery times as data is being constantly replicated across the wire to our DR site. That being said, it is the costliest option of the three.

SAN-to-SAN Replication (Quick to Moderate Recovery Time)

SAN-to-SAN replication offers a solution with similar RTO and RPO as logical replication, without the additional cost of logical replication software.  Some of the advantages of S2S replication are: 1) no logical replication software licenses are required, 2) the DR LPAR does not need to be “live” to receive the replicated data, 3) Connectria has a price advantageous “DR Bundle” for our IBM i Cloud customers.   It should be noted that the solution requires that both the production and the disaster recovery IBM I server be operating on the same type of external storage array. In addition, the process utilized to recover dirty blocks is inherent in the OS/DB2 recovery routines that are part of the “i” OS. This means that any blocks that need to be recovered or backed out are cleaned up via the DB2 recovery techniques/routines. This results in an IPL that is slightly longer than a standard IPL but certainly within scope of most DR plans.

Vault Archive: Periodic Daily Replication (Moderate Recovery Time)

Another option is a vault archive. In this scenario the production iSeries would be located at a customer’s data center and send periodic daily changes to a vault in Connectria’s data center. If a customer was ever to declare a disaster we would be able to take that vault and restore it to an iSeries at our DC. With this option the RPO is usually around 24 hours while the RTO would really depend on what data would be on the vault and the difference from the time it left the production site and when it was received at our vault.

Backup Tape: Local Replication (Cost-Effective Recovery)

For organizations that can afford a longer downtime in the event of a disaster, the most cost efficient option is doing a straight tape backup. Going with this option a customer can send Connectria a backup tape and we can restore it to an iSeries on premise. The RTO in this scenario is typically 48+ hours depending on the amount of data the customer has and how long it would take to restore. The RPO would once again depend on when the data was backed up on the tape. If the backup was completed and the tape was out of the DC before the disaster hit, it would be come down how long it takes to ship the tape to the disaster recovery site.

Other Considerations: SSAE-16 Certification

Something else to consider when looking at 3rd party disaster recovery sites is whether or not the providers are SSAE-16 certified. SSAE-16 is an auditing standard developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and shows that a service organization has been through an in-depth audit of their control activities, which includes controls over information technology and related processes. All of Connectria’s data centers are SSAE-16 SOC I and SOC II certfied which enables our customers to host environments that require compliance with HIPAA, PCI, or SOX regulations.

If your organization is thinking about different disaster recovery options please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, we’ll be happy help. If you have any questions or further suggestions for this blog post shoot us an email at blog@connectria.com.

 

Definitions:

Recovery Time Objective (RTO)– Amount of time it takes to recover data and get the application back up and running, similar to a customer’s SLA, measured in amount of hours or days.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)– How much data loss a company is willing to take, essentially how often data gets backed up and how much data can potentially be lost in an event of a disaster.

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