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Relieving the Pressure

Using the mainframe as a centralized storage source can unify the business-continuance strategy.

Using the mainframe as a centralized storage source can unify the

Business-continuance requirements and compliance with today's data-handling regulations can create stress for IT managers and system administrators alike. And, with so many people working with servers and storage devices - both in the datacenter and in remote offices - there can be problems adherening to established IT policies and procedures. Meanwhile, Electronic Data Processing (EDP) auditors are applying more pressure to tighten the security and management capabilities surrounding the movement of data within the enterprise.

Using the mainframe infrastructure - with its proven tools and disciplines - to centralize the storage management, security, and monitoring of file-level backup and file transfer can increase data availability, decrease storage costs and reduce human-resource requirements while satisfying EDP audit requirements.

While hardware redundancy, system clustering technology and data-replication practices can provide high availability (HA), file-level backup and data archiving on tape remain key components of a solid business-continuance strategy. The most common data-recovery operation in the average datacenter involves restoring a single file or group of files at the request of an end user who has somehow "lost" the file.

Unfortunately, managing file-level backups for, in many cases, hundreds or thousands of distributed systems continues to challenge system administrators with an array of daily chores, including solving failed backups, maintaining multiple backup servers, and fighting tape errors and capacity problems. Furthermore, this typically isn't the only task assigned to the system administrators responsible for data recoverability. The time constraints that many such administrators feel can result in a backup solution that's not efficient or effectively managed, which presents a risk of data loss.

Using the mainframe as a central backup server and storage source for backup data offers several advantages. Perhaps most notably, this provides a mechanism to unify and simplify disaster recovery (D/R) planning for the enterprise. When backup data from open systems is delivered to the mainframe, it's easily incorporated into existing offsite tape-vaulting practices and D/R testing procedures that have been a routine part of mainframe storage-management disciplines for decades. Additionally, a single central policy governing the behavior of the backup system can be implemented and configured to use existing security and storage-management tools on the mainframe - which, in turn, offers a single interface for configuration, monitoring and auditing.

Of course, diligence during the initial setup and daily care is rewarded when using any platform for centralized backup. Since mainframe-computing resources are shared among many applications, careful configuration of the client and server components of the solution is paramount. Mainframe-based backup utilities for open-systems data have been around for many years and are typically feature-rich. And, while some system administrators may have a simple goal of getting all of the data backed up in the shortest time possible, other key considerations will determine the solution's viability. Data-recovery times, efficient media usage, minimizing the processing impact on the mainframe - and of course, security - are all key factors. Indeed, this sounds like common-sense advice, but these factors are frequently ignored when such a solution is implemented.

Using the mainframe as a central backup server and storage source for backup data offers several advantages. Perhaps most notably, this provides a mechanism to unify and simplify disaster recovery (D/R) planning for the enterprise.

Craig Blakney is systems engineer for Beta Systems Software, North America. Craig can be reached at craig.blakney@betasystems.com.



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