HelpSystems Blog

Robot and FlashCopy

Last month, Chuck Stupca (retired IBMer) and Chuck Losinski (HelpSystems) presented a webinar discussing FlashCopy for IBM i. Based on the attendance, it looks like this is a very important topic for many of you so I wanted to explain how FlashCopy ties to Robot products.

Conquering the SAN Requirement

Robot/SCHEDULE can execute any command on any IBM i partition and Robot/SCHEDULE Enterprise can execute any command on Linux or AIX partitions that could potentially use FlashCopy. The prerequisite for IBM FlashCopy is IBM storage area network (SAN) technology such as V7000 or DS8000. Robot/SCHEDULE runs on independent partitions of IBM i and it can be used to trigger jobs on other partitions by integrating with Robot/NETWORK. We call this cross-system reactivity. This feature allows you to launch a flash on a targeted partition based on a process finishing. For instance, you might want to flash your system at the end of each month so that you have an exact image after closing out the month and then trigger a traditional backup of the flash.

Cleaning out the Closet

Think about how easy it is to create a flash. Now think about the mess you have when developers don’t clean up save files on the system. Get my point? You might want to consider a tool like Robot/SPACE that can track disk space consumption. Why flash data you don’t need? Robot/SPACE clears unwanted data like save files and old journal receivers and keeps the amount of data being flashed to a minimum.

Supplementing Your DR Strategy

FlashCopy is not an object-based backup—it’s all or nothing—so you may want to spin up a partition periodically that reads the flashed image and has object-level save commands executed like SAVLIB, SAVOBJ, or SAV. These commands paired with Robot/SAVE give you the granularity you need for restoring individual objects. You may need this ability to comply with regulations for looking at a single physical file or if you ever need to restore your data to a targeted system.

Also, as FlashCopy runs, it generates messages to QSYSOPR. Robot/CONSOLE can track these events and notify you about this activity. It can also track the fact that a flash was taken. Again, you may have some regulations that require documentation of these events.

Customers are very excited about FlashCopy, but it’s not a complete replacement for standard backups. You still want to be able to restore individual objects at some point, and the features standard in Robot products work well with this newer technology.