Oct 24 ’12

Technical Insights: Use Backup and Recovery Tools to Support Day-to-Day Operations

by Rick Weaver in Enterprise Tech Journal

Your company’s investment in backup and recovery tools can be leveraged in a variety of ways that you may not have considered. These resources aren’t just for managing disasters or significant unplanned outages, which happen infrequently. The following examples describe how to maximize your investment in these tools by also using them to support your day-to-day operations:

Replicate DB2 data. Recovery tools can be used to replicate data from one system to another. You can use these backup and recovery tools in a variety of ways to support DB2 data replication.

Assume that you copy all the databases in the application and then port those copies to some other site or subsystem, such as a quality assurance system, where you upload the databases for regression testing the applications. This is a common process, and there are actions that you can take to make it less expensive to extract that information, apply the data, and perform more automation to complete the process. These actions will help you reduce the cost of supporting the application group and their testing efforts because they provide faster, cheaper copy and recovery techniques that can reduce or eliminate CPU consumption and elapsed time impacts.

Transform structures. You may not have considered using a backup and recovery tool to perform certain kinds of structural changes, but these resources have engine components that can support that capability. For example, a health insurance company uses recovery tools to manage structural changes across the DB2 subsystems and bring new systems into production quickly. The company leverages a transformation facility that ensures the data and associated structures maintain their integrity during structural changes.

Migrate changes. Another replication technique is to take data from one place—such as a protection DB2 application—and import it into another application, such as an Oracle database. This technique lets you extract changes to the DB2 data from the DB2 log and then format the data. This process allows you to apply the data to the Oracle database. As a result, you can migrate changes from one operating system or database to another and exploit your investment in backup and recovery products to support operations.

Support audit reporting. Another innovative approach is to use backup and recovery products to support audit reporting requirements, such as those that apply to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Sarbanes-Oxley (Sarbox), and other regulations. For example, these resources can help identify who has been changing data. You also need to determine if power users are making changes they aren’t authorized to make or if there are other change-related actions that could violate company policies. These tools enable you to extract data from the logs and provide audit reports to know what data has changed and what the data looked like before and after the change.

Perform “practice” recoveries. Having to perform local recovery is rare, and typically the expertise to do this isn’t always available onsite because, fortunately, disasters occur infrequently. If your tools allow you to practice recovery processes, you can use them to test the scenarios before an outage occurs so you can plan preventive actions. Without testing the processes in advance, you could actually have a recovery spiral—where problems become worse before everything gets recorded. For example, if you’re doing recovery of an application database to some point in time and forget to take along a related database or index, there’s an inconsistency within and between databases that must be addressed.

The solutions you use to test recovery should provide an estimate in hours, minutes, and seconds related to the time required to perform a complete disaster recovery. This planning capability offers the opportunity to periodically practice recovery without actually impacting availability of live applications. You need the right tools to make this happen.

Return on Investment

As the pressure increases to do more with less to help your company remain competitive, maximizing the value you extract from every investment will be increasingly important. While your organization may have invested in backup and recovery tools to prevent against a total disaster, keep in mind that by also using these resources to support day-to-day operations, you can gain an even greater return on that investment.