What’s a Central Scratch Pool?

A long time ago, someone asked me if we had a central scratch pool in Robot Save. At the time, I have to admit I was not a tape management expert and really didn’t understand the concept. In my world, I worried about tracking the tapes for backup reasons in a logical fashion: Daily-Monday, Daily-Tuesday, and so forth with a 3-week rotation—and the tapes always were used for daily backups.  

The TMS experts of the world were looking for a true tape inventory type of product. They wanted a centralized scratch pool across all of their instances of IBM i (AS/400, iSeries, System i). Over the years, Robot Save has evolved into this kind of solution, and today it is the strongest IBM i-centric software for tape management. One reason for this is its Data Center Management System (DCMS) feature.

Data Center Management System

The DCMS provides a network infrastructure for sharing volumes in and inventorying volumes across the many instances of IBM i. In this environment, you can pick tapes from a centralized scratch pool, which are available for any system. These are expired tapes that are “open season” when you execute a backup. Robot Save will automatically catalogue (assign) the volume to a backup and inventory the objects that are on the tape. 

There are several benefits of this solution:

  1. You can load volumes into your tape library and let Robot Save pick volumes as you need them for any of the systems/partitions doing backups. You still have the option to reserve volumes to specific systems/partitions if needed.
  2. Tape integrity is preserved so that no system can grab a tape that has active files on it. Robot Save writes the actual expiration date on each tape so that both you and it can tell how long to retain the contents.
  3. It consolidates viewing and reporting so you can generate reports about all of the volumes from any of the systems. There is a Good Morning Report that summarizes the assigned volumes and gives you an exact count of volumes available in the scratch pool and assigned to backups.
  4. You get consolidated events about your backups and no longer need to search all systems to find out if a backup finished successfully.

The Data Center Management System delivers a very controlled and auditable environment for tracking and securing backups. Customers that are running this feature now take this process for granted.


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