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Automate backup for VMS v7.3

 
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J Ancheta
Advisor

Automate backup for VMS v7.3

Good Day,

For our backup procedure, every night we place in a DLT tape in our 20/40 GB Table Top Drive and then run a backup script.

Can you please let me know if there is a way to automatically backup our Alpha Server 1200 to an external device/storage without user intervention? If so, can you please make some recommendations on which hardware/software we can utilize?
20 REPLIES 20
Hoff
Honored Contributor
Solution

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

This is a seriously open-ended question, and the options here are usually better handled in a quick meeting with somebody rather than a back-and-forth in tiny ITRC text boxes.

The core questions that arise:

What's your budget?

What's the scale of your data?

How much does your data change?

How fast are your network links?

What are you centrally protecting against here?

Your disks appear to have microscopic capacities given that you're presently still using a 20/40 GB DLT, so a used or new LTO/Ultrium or a used or new loader may (will?) get you to a once-a-week tape change.

Options here can range up to using something akin to tarsnap or a local area or wide-area network for remote archival processing. To use a network connection and eliminating your tape media entirely.

As for the current manual process, typical practice is to run this archival processing from a nightly and self-resubmitting batch job. With this, the operator swaps tapes daily or weekly or at whatever intervals are locally required, and the batch procedure "just runs". Or the batch procedure runs, and stores the files remotely.

Other caveats: on-line BACKUP copies aren't necessarily reliably restorable (and you can easily search for and find the many previous discussions of how you can silently corrupt your archival data with the use of BACKUP /IGNORE =INTERLOCK mechanism) , which means that (depending on what data and what applications are involved) you can need to use RMU or mysqldump or other such tools, or (once a quarter?) use bootable disk.

Tossing a disk shelf into the box can be cheap, too, and you can use near-line or shadowing or such to get better snapshots.

Getting off of OpenVMS Alpha V7.3 would be useful, too, as newer releases get you access to (for instance) faster I/O operations, and newer releases have BACKUP encryption features which can be useful for off-site storage of sensitive data.

Anyway, a quick discussion with HP or an OpenVMS provider here can help you tailor a better solution to your budget and your data and your requirements.
J Ancheta
Advisor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

Thank you for your response. We need to backup every night and are looking at any possible low cost alternative means instead of having an operator pop in tapes.Our software only runs on V7.3. Unfortunately I don't know anything about what you've mentioned as we don't have any expertise on this equipment. I take it that backing up data can be done on the network but it's not reliable. We do have a SAN array. Could this be used as a backup or perhaps can the AS1200 use this instead of internal drives?

I will look into LTO/Ultrium. I don't know what a new loader is, can you please kindly provide a brand and model?
J Ancheta
Advisor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

From what I understand, our SAN has dynamic allocation capability.
Hoff
Honored Contributor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

If you're happy with 20/40 GB DLT, then moving from that TZ88-class drive to a TZ885- or TZ887-class mini-loader or a TL8xx-class library may be an option, if you can find it. Personally, I'd tend to look to move to a newer and larger-capacity drive, as loaders and older tape drives tend to have higher maintenance costs than newer drives.

Again, the core questions that arise:

What's your budget? This drives the decision.

What's the scale of your data? This drives the decision,

How much does your data change? (How much data needs to be replicated drives the decision.)

How fast are your network links? This drives the decision.

What are you centrally seeking to protect against here? Yes, you guessed it, this too drives the decision.

>We need to backup every night and are looking at any possible low cost alternative means instead of having an operator pop in tapes.

Most folks are looking to reduce manual processing. That can be achieved with disk drives, with a bigger (higher-capacity tape), or with a tape loader, or with remote (network) storage.

>Our software only runs on V7.3.

That's comparatively unusual and usually points to latent bug(s) in the configuration. But OK.

>Unfortunately I don't know anything about what you've mentioned as we don't have any expertise on this equipment.

Therein lies the crux of the matter; you'll want to address that, or to engage external assistance to meet your goals.

>I take it that backing up data can be done on the network but it's not reliable.

Backups to remote hosts can be very reliable. That's part of the basis for Storage Area Network (SAN) disks and tapes, after all.

>We do have a SAN array. Could this be used as a backup or perhaps can the AS1200 use this instead of internal drives?

Archival storage can be based on Fibre Channel Storage Area Network (SAN), on Network Attached Storage and on Direct Attached Storage (DAS), yes.

Also of interest here is if there's a SAN tape drive loader or library available here. If so, that can be an option.

The key question for all of these is bandwidth; do you have enough bandwidth to your storage to complete your backups within your available archival window.

>I will look into LTO/Ultrium. I don't know what a new loader is, can you please kindly provide a brand and model?

If hardware support is a prerequisite, then you'll typically want a Compaq- or HP-branded DLT or SDLT or LTO/Ultrium device. You'll want to acquire used or new hardware that your hardware support provider will support for you. If that's not an issue, then more options are available.

If you're using HP as your support provider, then start with the QuickSpecs for current and retired tape products and tape loaders and libraries here:

http://hp.com/go/productbulletin

Various folks here provide these sorts of upgrades and configurations as a service, including HP and various of the regular posters here. (Full disclosure: me, too.) And there are various used- and new-equipment providers around, and there are various auction sites that can have gear.

Ian Miller.
Honored Contributor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

The important process to understand is how to recover your data when something bad happens. If you are unfamiliar with VMS and the hardware then do engage some more help to sort this out before something bad happens.
____________________
Purely Personal Opinion
J Ancheta
Advisor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

Yes. We have a gold key with HP.

We are only looking into < $1K in replacing our DLT 20/40 table top. I've discussed potential approaches introduced in this thread (by Hoff) with my colleagues and although we do have the bandwidth and Fibre we cannot go this direction.

In the past, I have tried several times to find some kind of hardware on various websites such as HP for some kind of hardware that can achieve this but I end up going in circles as I don't know what is compatible with the AS1200 and VMS v7.3. I understand now that a tape loader can be used but I don't know what exactly that is or a potential brand/model.

Further help is much appreciated.
Hoff
Honored Contributor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

The SOC (Systems and Options Catalog) and the QuickSpecs available at the HP Product Bulletin describe the various hardware options that have been available, and I've posted some part numbers that you can search for.

The supported options are scattered across a couple of different spots, but you can start here for one of the lists:

http://www.compaq.com/alphaserver/archive/1200/

The OpenVMS Alpha V7.3 SPD would be another resource for investigating support, but that's a bit more difficult to locate if you don't have a copy of that on-site with your OpenVMS Alpha V7.3 distribution and documentation.

What's actually available on the used-equipment market varies (widely), and whether considering this in terms of the gear or the pricing or the fitness for purpose or whether the gear itself even works. Or whether the BACKUPs being created here can be reliable restored if and as and when needed, as Ian Miller mentions.
Jon Pinkley
Honored Contributor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

J Ancheta,

What is the problem you are trying to avoid? If it is that you don't want to have someone to start the script at night, then the following may be sufficient.

If your backs fit on one tape (with compression), then there is no need to have an operator available at the time the backup actually is taken. You may want to have notification sent if there is a backup failure, but that should be a relatively rare event.

$1000 isn't going to buy much. What you can do for "free" is to have your backups split into two parts, a part you do during the day when you have coverage and the part that runs itself at night. During normal business hours you will load the tape that will be used, optionally the verify the tape labels by mounting them, and the submitting a batch jobs that will run later. Then the second part will all happen at night as a batch job.

Jon
it depends
Andy Bustamante
Honored Contributor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

As Jon points out, your budget doesn't allow for very much change. The Alphaserver 1200 is extremely dated which limits your options even more.

Does your SAN support OpenVMS? If you have the network bandwidth available: Do you have the option to provide an nfs share to the VMS system? Using FTP to backup critical data files may be another option. Either of these requires that preserve VMS file attributes, ZIP is an option if you have enough VMS disk space to create your backup. Do you have access to a Symantec Veritas Backup server?

There are many options for what you can do, your budget disqualifies many of them immediately. The other unasked question: how important to your business is the ability to recover this server?

Andy Bustamante
If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? Reach me at first_name + "." + last_name at sysmanager net
J Ancheta
Advisor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

Hello Jon,

Thanks for your reply. We believe that the VMS is a stable machine and has been stable for us for over a decade now. Only issue we've encountered twice was the TableTop had to be replaced. The last time I think something went wrong with the leader.

We are trying to remove the necessity of having the presence of an operator throughout the day. The VMS would be un-manned and a script would trigger at night and perform the backup.

If a problem arises, notifications will be sent out and if necessary someone would be sent to the machine.

J
J Ancheta
Advisor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

Hello Andy,

Thanks for your comments. I think we have a 10GB circuit. Our Fibre SAN should do the trick but it is available for me to use.

I will look into the Symantec Veritas Backup server but I doubt we have it since heavy investments are in the SAN.

The AS1200 is extremely important for one of our businesses which is why I think we have the 24x7, 3 hour on-site response with HP.

J
jjinva
Advisor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

Could you post your current backup script? Give some idea how much data is backed up? How much disk space you have available on the System being backed up?

One thing you could possibly do is backup to a saveset on the disk then ftp/copy to the SAN.

This would require some/maybe significant testing to make sure what you backed up was restorable. All this could be put in a script.
J Ancheta
Advisor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

jjinva thanks for your reply. Script attached.

Can you please let me know if this script backup everything including OS?
RBrown_1
Trusted Contributor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

You ask, "Does it back up everything, including the OS?"

Can't tell.

This command file backs up DKB0, DKB100, DKB200, DKB300, DKB400, DKB500, and DKB600. If there are other disks, they are not backed up.

Earlier in this command file is code to find all disk drives, but is broken, so that it only finds the first disk drive. And whatever drives is may find are unrelated to the drives that are actually backed up. There are many problems with the code in that section, and improvements are possible, if the command file actually used the information it was trying to find here.

Your backup commands specify /IGNORE=INTERLOCK (spelled /IGNORE=INTER in your command file), which allows files that are open to be backed up. This might work for you, and it might not. Others can give you detailed cautions.

After doing the backups, the command file tries to do a bunch of file cleanup. This may partly work, and may not work at all, since the disk names used are not the same as the disk names specified in the backup commands. The "DISK0" name created before the backups is not correctly used. The command file turns off error messages in that part of the command file, and does not check for errors, so you don't know if any of the cleanup commands work at all.

I can't tell how well this command file works for you, but it would work no worse if you deleted all lines except line 21, the seven lines beginning "$ BACKUP", and perhaps the lines that reference ZERO$DKB.

To your original question "... without user intervention", you could remove the lines 91 and 92 that ask the operator to "press return", and run the command file in batch, and hope for the best. This ought to go if the drive and tape work well. If not, then the operator should get a message requesting assistance, which is probably what you want.
Jon Pinkley
Honored Contributor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

J Ancheta,

Have you ever restored from tape to test the backup procedure? That's the best test of whether it works. You need a spare drive you can restore to. Do you have a script or the knowledge to do the restore? Do you have a VMS distribution CD you can boot from if your system disk becomes unbootable?

The backup procedure you posted has no blade guards, other than the "press return to overwrite tape" prompt. If someone puts the wrong tape in, it will be overwritten. That would not be acceptable in our environment. Running the backup as a batch job only makes this more dangerous, unless you allow backup to do some checking before it starts to overwrite the tape.

BACKUP does have the ability to offer some protection with tape labels and /tape_expiration dates. Specifically, you are using /ignore=LABEL_PROCESSING, so backup does not check that the correct tape is being used, and you are not using /tape_expiration, so the tape is marked as available as soon as it is created. We use /LABEL=xxxx and /EXACT_ORDER to avoid using the wrong tape, and when the tape is initialized with BACKUP /REWIND, we use /TAPE_EXPIRATION=date to prevent accidentally reinitializing a tape prior to its reuse date. See help backup for more details.

Since the script you posted uses /IGNORE=INTERLOCK, backup makes a best effort backup of the drives listed, with no coordination with any other file activity on the disk, or what is being cached at the application level. If the AS1200 is a standalone system (not part of a VMS Cluster), then backup will tell you what files may not have been backed up correctly. If you aren't paying attention to the warning messages displayed on the terminal, you will have no record of what files are suspect; all that is lost as it scrolls off the screen (the files with the .log extension are not log files, they are backup listing files). Also, any files that are marked as /nobackup will have only the metadata backed up, allowing a content free file to be created with the correct size and ownership. Normally PAGE and SWAP files are set to /nobackup, because the contents of these files is not important in a recovery situation, only that they exist is important. Some sites mark files /nobackup for other reasons, and if this is done, the backups won't have the contents of the files.

Use forum search for backup /ignore=interlock to find relevant topics concerning the implications of /ignore=interlock. Given your requirement for unattended operation, and lack of shadowing, and no budget, I recommend that you use /ignore=interlock, but you need to be aware of what it means. The alternative (not using /ignore=interlock) means you will not get a backup of any file that backup can't guarantee to be valid. So any files that are opened for write access will not be backed up. See other posts for ways to get consistent copies of volatile files.

Please see the thread http://forums.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/questionanswer.do?threadId=1143795 and grab the DLT_REMAINING command procedure. You can then determine how much of the raw capacity of the DLTIV cartridge you are currently using. If your data isn't changing much, then you may be able to append incremental backups to the same tape, i.e. a complete image backup with /record once a week followed by incremental backups with /norecord on a daily basis.

However, you haven't told us what you are trying to protect against. Having all your backups onsite won't help you if the computer room is destroyed by fire, etc.

Your question started out open ended, but you have since placed so many constraints on it that I wonder if a solution exists that you will find acceptable, or will be supportable.

http://forums.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/questionanswer.do?threadId=965502

has a method that allows cheap PC disk storage to be used as "tape", but it probably requires more expertise than is available at your site, and it doesn't address a DR situation well, unless you create a custom bootable CD with the driver installed. And it isn't extremely fast either.

In what capacity are you involved with this system? Are you the system manager, or part of a service organization that is providing management for another company? Do you have any influence on the budget?

"The AS1200 is extremely important for one of our businesses". How much will they be willing to spend trying to recover if there is a problem? There is no free lunch. If you are responsible for this system, you need to understand your backups, and verify that they work, and that you have a reasonable tape retention policy. The VMS Documentation is available in PDF format online. If you are the acting system manager, you should be familiar with everything in the OpenVMS System Manager's Manual,Volume 1: Essentials. Here's a link to the V73 version of the manual.

http://h71000.www7.hp.com/doc/73final/documentation/pdf/OVMS_73_sysman1.PDF

At least skim the whole book. Then read the sections that apply to you. Have a terminal handy so you can try things; reading alone is not nearly as instructive as doing.

Jon
it depends
J Ancheta
Advisor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

Thanks for your comments. I'm disappointed to learn that our script can be buggy. I've attached a show devices command if this makes any sense. Looking at your responses it looks like the DKB* are our drives (I think we have 5 or 6) and probably the our script is hard coded to back these up.

Restore? Yes, with the assistance of our software vendor, we have restored a file or two from a backup tape probably 3 times in the past 10+ years. On our end, we just put the previous backup tape in the drive. We have about a 25+ tape rotation, full backup is done on a different tape every day. Every week one tape is sent to off-line storage. So far, since we've acquired the AS1200, the only problems that we've encountered was with the tape drive - once was a replacement and the other time it had something to do with the leader falling down.
J Ancheta
Advisor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

Thanks for your comments. I'm disappointed to learn that our script can be buggy. I've attached our devices to this reply.

Restore? Yes, with the assistance of our software vendor, we have restored a file or two from a backup tape probably 3 times in the past 10+ years. I don't know how they did it but for our end, we just merely put the previous backup tape in the drive. We have about a 25+ tape rotation, full backup is done on a different tape every night. Every week one tape is sent to off-line storage. So far, since we've acquired the AS1200, the only problems that we've encountered was with the tape drive - once was a replacement and the other time it had something to do with the leader falling down.

We are aware that something needs to be done, but I only have a small budget to work with.
J Ancheta
Advisor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

I was just informed that we have a software called HP data protector and a hardware called Spectra T50. I do not know what these things are but can this be used for an automated backup instead of using our DLT tape?

Thinking along the lines that this is some kind of software, can the HP data protector be loaded on the AS and perform the backups.

Hoff
Honored Contributor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

HP Data Protector (DP) is used by some HP sites to perform remote data archival processing for various operating system platforms, and an OpenVMS client for DP is available from HP.

Google finds the Spectra Logic T50 LTO tape library, which appears to be the device mentioned to you.

Which means that yes, DP and the T50 can likely be used. (Well, I haven't checked to see if DP is compatible with the T50, but if you're already using this combination and this hardware with DP, then it obviously is.)

Yes, DCL (also) can be used (as has been mentioned in the thread). Whether with DP and the T50 library, or with your existing drive, or with a replacement drive.

DP info:

http://h20338.www2.hp.com/enterprise/w1/en/software/information-management-data-protector.html

And yes, there are other options and archival tools and products. Though having an existing DP set-up usually means you'll want to seriously investigate its use here.
J Ancheta
Advisor

Re: Automate backup for VMS v7.3

Thank you all. We were able to install DP 6.x after upgrading to 7.3-2.