TTI Inc. uses virtual I/O as part of its disaster-recover regimen
Brent Fortman, TTI senior systems administrator, and Janelle Johnson, TTI systems administration manager, credit Power Systems servers and WebSphere software for helping with disaster-recovery efforts.
Still, TTI saw potential in VIO for DR purposes; its employees just needed to discover a way to do it. “We were somewhat hampered in our efforts, because we really had no proof of concept. Sure, we could use VIO, but we would have to re-create all of the LPARs by hand. So some people were somewhat skeptical that we could kind of push the envelope with VIO to bring our systems online within hours instead of days,” Kim Pond, director of information services operations with TTI, recalls.
Fortman backs this statement up by saying, “I can understand the initial points of view. VIO is still relatively new and it does, without a doubt, add a layer of complexity to your environment. If you have a team of engineers that isn’t very familiar with it, VIO could be troublesome at DR. But if your staff understands how things are built and designed—and understands VIO—it’s definitely something you can take to DR and be successful with.”
The Heavy Lifting
But how successful? In TTI’s case: very. With the assistance of Sirius Computer Solutions, the company tested how VIO could be used in a DR setting, using the vendor’s lab to test how long it would take to bring VIO—and its associated LPARs—back into operational mode. As it turned out, it took only a few hours, with the production VIO servers being deployed by a single administrator. But that was only part of the equation. Next was how to repopulate the LPARs within that timeframe.
The task went to Fortman, who was charged with creating scripts that would automate much of this re-creation process. Part of that required consolidating the two Power 550 production systems so they appeared as one. This would allow the company to recover on one machine instead of two. Also, scripts had to be created that would take snapshots of the partitions that could then be deployed on the DR box and then be restored with the tape backups.