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uc.png Storage recovery

Authors: StevenBeard
Build basis: None

Minimize unplanned outages: Use storage area network (SAN) or Network Attached Storage (NAS) technology

The Jazz solution configuration should use SAN or NAS technologies if possible, because these technologies provide a degree of fault tolerance for disk storage resources. The Jazz repositories should reside on these resources. If virtualization is being utilized for the Jazz servers, then the virtual machine (VM) images should also be stored on this media.

In addition, NAS solutions offer utilities for doing “offline backups”, by breaking the disk mirror and then backing up the “offline” copy of the disk storage. These systems will also provide the capability to store these backups for quick restoration, as well as utilities to manipulate these backups. Well-prepared Jazz installations will also make sure that these backups are moved offsite at some interval; to mitigate the risks of data loss should the data from an entire site be destroyed.

Important: The enterprise Jazz infrastructure is expected to support the software development needs of an organization, and the consequences of losing these software assets are quite severe. Use of SAN and NAS technologies can help mitigate this risk, and will allow for backup of the Jazz based artifacts with a minimum amount of down time. While NAS may impact performance, when compared to a SAN implementation, it provides hot swapping and is more reliable.

Cross-volume data integrity and consistency groups

Note: This section is derived from the IBM Systems Magazine article, Disaster Recovery levels, by Robert Kern and Victor Peltz (November 2003).

Computers must write data to disks with full integrity, even in the event of hardware failures and power failures. To accomplish this, environment designers employ many techniques, such as:

  • Mirrored storage subsystem cache to prevent data loss in the event of a cache hardware failure
  • Battery backup to prevent cache data loss in the event of a power failure
  • Mirrored disk or parity-based RAID schemes for protecting against hard-disk drive failures

Another, more subtle, requirement for preserving the integrity of data being written is making sure that "dependent writes" are executed in the applications intended sequence. Many years ago, application developers developed various dependent write sequences to preserve data integrity/data consistency for data being written to disk across power failures. Consider this typical sequence of writes for a database update transaction:

  1. Execute a write to update the database log, indicating that a database update is about to take place.
  2. Execute a second write to update the database.
  3. Execute a third write to update the database log, indicating that the database update has completed successfully.

These "dependent writes" must be written to remote mirrored disk in the same sequence in which the application issued them. In the previous example, there are no guarantees that the database log and the database are on the same storage subsystem. Failure to execute the write sequence correctly may result in writes (1) and (3) being executed, followed immediately by a system failure. When it is time to recover the database, the database log would incorrectly indicate that the transaction completed successfully. The transaction would be lost, and the integrity of the database would be questionable.

When considering the RTOs and RPOs in any disaster-recovery solution involving data replication, it is critical to understand the need for cross-volume data integrity and data consistency. Essential elements for creating cross-volume data integrity and data consistency include the ability to:

  • Create RPiT copies of the data as necessary
  • Provide a site "Data Freeze" causing all data at the remote site to be consistent with a RPiT
  • Use a consistent timestamps across all write updates to order all writes at the remote site
  • Create data set/file consistency groups

Cross-volume data integrity and data consistency enable database RESTARTs if the second copy of the data is actually used. Solutions that employ cross-volume mirroring and remote-disk mirroring must address the issue of data consistency to support cross-volume and cross-storage subsystem data integrity.

Most customers, when designing a multi-site solution, must minimize the time it takes to restart applications once the data at the secondary site has been recovered.

Tiers of multi-site service availability

In the late 1980s, the SHARE Technical Steering Committee, working with IBM, developed a white paper that described levels of service for disaster recovery using Tiers 0 through 6. Since then, a number of businesses using IBM zSeries have moved toward an IBM TotalStorage solution called the Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex, which allows an installation to manage end-to-end application and data availability across multiple geographically separate sites. This resulted in an additional seventh tier representing the industry's highest level of availability driven by technology improvements.

  • Tier 0: No disaster recovery - Most customers today understand the need for disaster recovery of their development environments, as well as the need for backup of critical data. However, Tier 0 is still common in practice because to many organizations do not fully test their disaster recovery properly, resulting it it failing in the event of a disaster. Also the design and implementation of disaster recovery is often differed to later resuting in a poor or never implemented solution.

  • Tiers 1 and 2: Physical transport - The majority of today's customers use a traditional method of creating tapes nightly and transporting them to a remote site overnight. Tier 1 users send the tapes to a warehouse or "cold" site for storage. Tier 2 users send the tapes to a "hot" site where the tapes can be quickly restored in the event of a disaster.

    Various schemes have been developed to improve the process of offloading data nightly from production sites and production volumes to tapes. Some of these solutions provide full integration with various databases (Oracle, DB2 SQL, etc.). Here are some of the names created to describe these off-line backup solutions:
    • Server-less backup
    • LAN-less backup
    • Split mirroring
    • SNAP/SHOT*

      Hardware vendors have created products to fit into this marketplace. For example, the IBM Enterprise Storage Server (ESS) FlashCopy function provides this capability and, when coupled with ESS disk mirroring solutions, can create a RPiT copy of data within the same ESS logical storage subsystem without impacting applications.

  • Tier 3: Electronic vault transport - This is usually achieved by copying the tape from the primary site directly into a tape storage subsystem located at the remote secondary site. This replaces the need to physically transport tapes, with the tradeoff of the added network bandwidth.

  • Tier 4: Two active sites with application software mirroring - Various database, file system or application-based replication techniques also have been developed to replicate current data to a second site, but these techniques are limited to data contained in the particular database or file system for which they were designed. An example of this in the open systems world is software mirroring at the file-system level. If all of your data resides within the file system, these techniques can be a fast and efficient method of replicating data locally or remotely. Software-based file system mirroring can also be fully integrated with various host-base server clustering schemes like AIX High Availability Geographic Cluster (HAGEO). Host failover causes the software mirroring to failover as well.

  • Tier 5: Two-site, two-phase commit - This technique is specific to the database and its configuration used in conjunction with the application environment. Various databases provide specific data replication of database logs, coupled with programs to apply the log changes at the secondary site. Typically, one only gets data consistency within the specific database, and transactions across multiple databases are not supported.

  • Tier 6: Disk and tape storage subsystem mirroring - This technique includes two types of mirroring:
    • Disk mirroring - Disk mirroring is popular because it can be implemented in the storage subsystem and, as a result, is independent of the host applications, databases and file systems that utilize the storage subsystem.
    • Tape mirroring - You can mirror tape data via various hardware and software solutions. Typically this data is non-critical but still needs to be recovered in the event of a disaster that prevents moving back to the primary site for an extended period of time.

  • Tier 7: IBM GDPS - Use GDPS to implement the highest level in the multi-site availability hierarchy. GDPS can enable an installation to provide the means to support the highest level of application availability. GDPS combines software and hardware as the means for managing a complete switch of all resources from one site to another automatically, providing continuous operations as well as disaster recovery support for both planned and unplanned outages.

Related topics: Approaches to implementing high availability and disaster recovery for Rational Jazz environments

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