Backing Up Your IBM i During a Global Pandemic

Laurie Leblanc
Laurie LeBlanc, iTech Solutions

The shutdown across the country is something from a movie. A virus spreads across the globe, and no one can stop it.  People shut themselves inside and keep away from other people due to the fear. Businesses suffer because there is no one on-site to make sure that critical tasks that require human intervention. Except it’s not a movie, its real life.

To add chaos, we have wildfires, hurricanes, and storms. Many businesses have been destroyed by disasters.  The question is: Did they have a good backup strategy in place and were they diligent about getting their backups offsite?  If not, then recovery is going to be next to impossible.

When we talk about backups, we talk about the importance of having our backups be offsite for just this reason. You never know what is going to happen and when.  It’s better to be prepared than to find yourself in the midst of chaos.

Since the shutdown started, I’ve heard repeatedly from companies who are concerned with tape handling. I had another conversation about this today.  The story is always the same.  We need a better way to get our backups offsite.  When we shut down, no one was removing the tapes every day.

The Problem with Physical Tape

That’s the problem with tape backups. You have to physically remove the tape from the building.  It’s not good enough to have a backup.  You have to have a copy of that backup offsite, which is a problem during a shutdown.  If you are not going to the office, or your service provider can’t pick up the tape, then you have all your eggs in one basket and you should cross your fingers and throw a pinch of salt over your shoulder for luck. If the building catches on fire, you’re in trouble.

The Solution

We have seen an uptick in interest in Virtual Tape Libraries since the pandemic started. VTL’s are an appliance that emulates tape.  They have the ability to replicate from one VTL to another VTL, getting your backups offsite.  The replication process can start right after your backups finish which offers your business even more protection.

VTL’s have benefits beyond being able to get your tapes offsite easily with replication. VTL’s perform backups faster than tape, and they restore faster than tape too.  If you have issues with backup windows than a VTL is a great solution to consider.

[ Watch: Advantages of Virtual Tape Libraries ]

If you’re like many of the companies we talk to who have only one IBM i and don’t have a second location for a target VTL, iTech can help you with our VTL replication service.  Since VTL’s can de-duplicate data, replication is sped up by only having to send changes over to the target.  And since the replication can start right after deduplication finishes, the backups can be at the target before you get up in the morning.

If you’re concerned about encrypting your backups then VTL’s can help here too.  With a VTL you can have encrypted drives, which will protect your backups at rest. For companies with extensive retention policies, you can also duplicate your backups to tape for long term archive.  You can also encrypt any tapes you create from the VTL.

VTL’s check a lot of boxes for companies in regards to ensuring they can recover in the event of a disaster.  They also help eliminate tape handling, which has proven to be more important than we ever imagined.  If you’re concerned about tape handling and getting your backups offsite, give our sales team a call to learn more about how a VTL can help you.

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