Simon OSullivan

– Simon O’Sullivan – co-founder and co-owner of Maxava, says:

A few weeks back, I had a major disaster with my iPhone. I had been out cycling with the phone in my pocket. When I got home, I forgot it was there and threw all of my cycling gear into the washing machine — set the cycle to soak and spin and walked away. You can imagine that sinking feeling the next day when I found the phone completely waterlogged and dead. Someone told me to put it in a bag of rice and leave it in a warm place for 24 hours. The theory behind this is that somehow the rice is supposed to draw out the moisture like some magic osmosis and the phone is restored to its previous condition with all systems functioning normally. I suspect this could work when the phone has been immersed for a few seconds—but an entire wash and spin cycle? I don’t think so!

These days a phone is a pretty important piece of equipment. Mine holds all of my contacts, phone numbers, emails, music and photos. I have this application that records the details of people’s business cards. Whenever someone gives me a card, I take a quick snapshot of it and this application converts it into a contact. I must have hundreds of cards recorded. I take a photo from time to time when I travel and was surprised to find I had 466 photos on the phone. I had more than 1,700 songs and 29 applications as well. I had all my email history from the past five months.

All Data Is Lost, Right?

A few years back, all of that data would’ve been lost, which meant starting from scratch with a new phone. Backing up my phone was my responsibility back then, and I probably wouldn’t have done it. People would’ve told me to back up my phone data and I would’ve ignored that advice. But now in 2013, it’s all backed up in the cloud—automatically. I bought a new phone and, 10 minutes after switching it on, had my whole life history restored and at my fingertips—right back to the last photo I took, the last song I downloaded, the last email I received and the last business contact I recorded.

What’s a Day’s Data Worth?

A phone is one thing, but can you say you have the same level of protection of your organization’s data? The data that your company collects on a daily basis is vastly bigger than what’s stored on your simple mobile device. That data is also the lifeblood of your company. Often it’s critical to the successful operation of your business. That’s your invoices, accounts, contacts, history and transactions. Most businesses these days have terabytes of data stored on their IBM Power Systems* servers. It’s far more data than was stored just a few years ago. Libraries and files are constantly changed and updated, often over the Internet—literally thousands of transactions per minute—yet many IBM i shops in particular still have a “do-it-yourself” backup attitude.

Only 10 to 12 percent of IBM i shops run any kind of real-time replication and most rely on a daily tape backup for their disaster recovery strategy. This means that in the event of a serious outage or disaster, a new machine must be acquired, introduced to the environment and then restored from tape. The last backup tape could be up to 24 hours old and the missing data cannot be recreated.

Losing a day’s worth of data from your phone would be annoying, but losing a day’s critical data from your business could be a real blow to your organization. Add to this data loss the fact that you could be without your mission-critical server for at least three to four days and the situation becomes far more serious. Even organizations that replicate their data and can restore their systems to the last transaction often don’t run regular disaster recovery tests.

From DIY to Cloud

The good news is that the kind of protection you get on your mobile device is now available for your server running IBM i. Computer Merchants are now offering Disaster Recovery in the Cloud as a Service (DRaaS). With this kind of offering, the thousands of changes you make each day to your databases are replicated over the Internet to a virtualized IBM PureFlex* System server housed in a secure data center. This kind of offering secures your data to the very last transaction. Computer Merchants provide a logical partition for your data, which is configured to handle a minimum backup requirement, but this capacity can be increased in the event you must run your entire business from the LPAR.

This kind of solution is often called “private cloud” and delivers a very quick recovery from a disaster with virtually zero data loss. The really great thing about it is that it’s fully monitored and fully managed by the specialist team at Computer Merchants. Just like your mobile phone, you don’t have to worry about the specifics. And when you need to test your backup data, a Computer Merchants Technical Specialist can do this for you. We can handle your non-IBM i workload, too, and we can even give you a way to simulate your disaster recovery testing so you don’t affect your production users. Computer Merchants will provide regular health check reports as part of the service. This DRaaS approach removes the capital cost of a second server, introduces an economy of scale with shared data center resources and moves the capital costs of a DIY setup to a monthly fee operational cost.

The benefits available to the average IBM i shop with these new DRaaS offerings are huge. They bring your IBM i disaster recovery and business continuity up to the level you currently enjoy with your mobile device. I see a cloudy future for IBM i disaster recovery.