IBMi: Backup & Disaster Recovery

Jan 07, 2021 Rima Dutta

While your AS400 hosts all the mission-critical tasks, it lags in one essential feature of backup and recovery. Learn how to strengthen the data backup feature of this powerful IBM i machine with some assistance from an AS400 expert. In this blog, we talk about disaster recovery and data backup, specifically for AS400 systems.

If you are a business that’s operating on the venerable AS400, your ship sails on the waves of reliability. While AS400 5250 might not be the most appealing to look at, when it comes to running mission-critical tasks, there's zero room for second guesses.

However, despite its robust framework, the one thing that holds it back is backup. Let's be real, no business is one hundred percent immune to accidents but that's when Disaster Recovery (DR) plans neutralize the blow by reducing the recovery time by leaps and bounds. Recovery time is a metric that is directly proportional to the adverse impacts on a business. Therefore, in a nutshell, longer the recovery period, greater the dent.

Now, before we get caught up in the eye of the cyclone, let us understand why your AS400 setup needs a Backup & DR Plan.

Meet Stephen, the CEO of a renowned organization, who trusts the sturdy AS400 with all his sensitive data. His team handles operations, devises strategies and implements norms to keep the business up and running. Everything follows the plan – numbers crawl to peaks, productivity is impressive, and customers are satisfied. But a calamity surfaces and in the blink of an eye, the database goes barren. Stephen is horrified to know about the loss of all records of their present clients, an entire month’s shipment details, and massive transaction tracks. What follows next is a cascade of unsolicited events, each striking a blow to the otherwise stable AS400 ecosystem.

Despite being cautious with his moves, Stephen suffers a great loss because he undermined the importance of backing up his AS400 setup. Revenue loss, misguided commands, brand damage, the list keeps getting scarier as it proceeds. And that is why a formal set of documents, a.k.a Disaster Recovery Plan and an alternate backup server should be a priority.

Before the 1970s, major organizations relied on paper for storing information and thus, they had to produce a myriad of copies to ensure backup. But neither are we living in the 70s nor are the records maintained in a manuscript. So, how do you do the hefty job of backing up your AS400 system? The internet today is splurging with data recovery and backup guides; from hard drive recovery to RAID recovery to tape recovery, the lexical usage makes everything sound like the perfect solution. But is it?

The “Perfect” Solution?

Well, to be honest, there's no perfect avenue, instead, what can be employed is a solution that responds best to your needs. This may be a physically owned local server or a remote cloud based one. The major difference is that in the case of cloud-based servers, you rent the server space while for local servers, you actually own the servers.

What you need today should keep up with the time crunch and perform optimally under stressful conditions. It should be fast, accessible, accurate & reliable. With these requirements on the table, seeking cloud services is a no-brainer.

To make things easier, we have listed down a few gains that an efficient cloud backup of your AS400 setup delivers:

  • Security Data mishandling tales are by far the scariest of the lot. Whether it’s a cyber-attack or a power outage, data loss is the last thing that you’d want. When compared to all the other options available, cloud stands out as the best performer for the AS400 setup, security-wise.
  • Recovery Speed: Cloud lets you access your data with the maximum degree of freedom as it allows ubiquitous access to data. With a low latency network, you can recover your data within milliseconds. This feature makes cloud the most popular choice when it comes to data recovery.
  • Flexibility: With the spectacular flexibility that the cloud provides, AS400-dependent businesses get several deployment options to choose from. This allows control over the scaling up or down of the environment as per needs.
  • Reduces downtime: Cloud maximizes the uptime of AS400-dependent businesses by cutting down on the need for maintenance and the time required to deploy new environments.

Regardless of all the crests of relief, there are some complexities that cloud storage entails. No matter what the post-deployment gains are, the process of replicating the entire dataset is a matter that gets discussed over round table conferences. And that is why there must be a simplistic yet holistic approach to back up theAS400 system.

Prerequisites for Implementation:

  • Analyze the magnitude of existing data: Perform a data audit. This will give an estimate of the quantity and type of the data, the understanding of which will help in the planning phase.
  • Set recovery objectives: While setting up a backup and DR plan, there must be clear objectives for efficient functioning.
  • Disaster identifying checklist: Not anything and everything can be categorized as a “Disaster”. This will only create unnecessary confusion and chaos. Therefore, a set of requirements must be pre-defined in order to proceed with the recovery.
  • Regular update & testing of the DR server: Imagine setting up the perfect DRP and when you require it the most, it turns out to be dormant. No one would voluntarily want to be in a position like that and that is why a regular update and testing process is a mandate.

Enterprises on the IBM machinery were seldom worried about data recovery because of its stability. Eventually, with skillset getting scarce for the acclaimed AS400 system, businesses have pulled up their sleeves and are now scavenging for the best way out.

Approach

  • EXPLORE: The first step involves assessing & identifying critical data and business processes that needs to be backed up on the alternate server along with an in-depth discussion with the respective stakeholders to decide what needs to be backed up.
  • PLAN: This step deals with the entire groundwork that needs to be laid before the actual implementation commences. This may involve selection of the appropriate tool to be used for the AS400 back up, choosing a cloud provider for the backup server, documentation, project success metrics, implementation planning, etc.
  • IMPLEMENTATION: Implement the backup server, establish a bidirectional communication between the primary & the alternate server, documentation of the required areas and ensuring a minimum turnaround time.
  • SUPPORT: An effective implementation is followed by a maintenance & support plan to keep the servers running smoothly so that business critical tasks may continue even when the primary server is down. This may also be facilitated by deploying RPA bots to maintain the servers and notify in case of any probable disaster threats.

Why Count on Nalashaa’s AS400 Expertise?

When stakes are high, it’s better to have an industry specialist by your side. We, at Nalashaa, are experts in end-to-end IBM i/AS400 services including migration, modernization, integration, and support, and have helped multiple businesses to benefit from our plan of action. If you're wondering about devising a backup & recovery plan for your AS400 setup or want to dive deeper about the Whats and Hows surrounding AS400 Backup & Recovery, we’d be happy to assist.

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Rima Dutta

Made my favourite sandwich using the best of both worlds - Technology & Writing. The girl next door who talks to the camera, cries watching K-dramas and has an unhealthy obsession with momos & fictional characters.