Mirroring Maelstrom Could Confuse IBM i Clients

August 1, 2016

Mirroring is a crucial technique that affects a variety of business continuity and disaster recovery processes associated with effective IBM i administration. However, the litany of (often overlapping) options available to offer these advantages can confuse prospective customers and paralyze decision-making processes.

Merits of Mirroring

Responsible procurement plans will always begin with a focus on defining the technology up for implementation and pinpointing its strategic business value. In practical applications, mirroring constitutes the replication of production environment programs by means of an intermediate software agent or hardware that then creates copies to be stored in a backup system. Ideally this process will take place in real time as well, eliminating the need for planned downtime and promoting optimal data integrity.

The advantages of this practice are myriad, but first and foremost it is a high availability essential. In today's corporate climate, disrupting connectivity to mission-critical data and applications puts companies in a precarious position. Whether it's momentary inconveniences brought by system upgrades or outright asset loss wrought by unexpected occurrences, each carries costly consequences. Downtime inhibits productivity, but delayed or incomplete recovery can compromise production standards and sully reputations. As a result, companies diligently employing mirroring solutions will have the confidence to flexibly enact role swaps on-demand and preserve business continuity in the face of even the steepest operational challenges.

Vetting the Candidates

Most mirroring conversations from IBM these days begin and end with PowerHA for IBM i shops, but there's plenty of nuance even when staying exclusively under the Big Blue umbrella. The PowerHA SystemMirror has generated considerable loyalty thanks in part to the fact that it addresses both storage and high availability requirements in a comprehensive, integrated configuration. This "set and forget" style solution is renowned for its ease of use and reliable performance, but it comes in three distinct flavors.

Geographic, host-based mirroring allows companies to exchange information between two distributed nodes of a SystemMirror cluster, potentially sparing resources that would have been invested in a software replication model.

Metro and Global mirroring are storage server-based solutions that persist even if a certain cluster system goes dark, thus eliminating outage damages and restoration hassles. As one would expect, the Global variety promises the anticipated ease of administration and role swap capabilities over unlimited distances.

Vision Solutions has also independently established itself as an authority on IBM i availability among small businesses thanks to its iTera platform. Real-time replication and virtual machine compatibility make it an especially compelling option for addressing recovery time and point objectives. The company's MIMIX line also offers a variety of specialized high availability and disaster recovery solutions, which can work in concert with other components of a best-of-breed approach. Mimix is generally found in larger IBM i installations.

Besides Vision Solutions, other software providers to consider are Maxava and Rocket Software. EMC offers an alternative to IBM with its SANs for hardware replication.

Whatever the case may be, there is no shortage of affordable, high-performance solutions for incorporating mirroring strategies into IBM i administration plans. However, due diligence dictates that eager customers should take caution and ensure job scheduling software and other IBM i assets can be properly integrated with their incoming associates.