Unitrends expands data backup to System i, considers bare metal

Unitrends, known for disaster recovery software and bare-metal restore, now provides data backup for the iSeries and may implement bare-metal restore for the system in the future.

Unitrends has extended its data recovery software to the System i, in a move the company said was spurred on by customer requests.

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The Rapid Recovery System now provides disk-to-disk (D2D) data backup and recovery for machines from the System i and its predecessors, the iSeries and AS400. It allows companies to access i5/OS and OS/400 to recover the operating systems and critical data after an unexpected crash. Unitrends' products include rack-mountable boxes in-house and off-site data repositories.

The Hillsdale Community Health Center in Hillsdale, Mich., has been using Unitrends' Rapid Recovery software for two years now and two weeks ago adopted the System i version, called the AS400 Rapid Recovery. The health center is a hospital with fewer than 100 beds and an IT staff of two: the administrator and an AS400 programmer. As a result, IT administrator Darrell Hoag said, the company is aggressive about saving money. If it can combine data backup procedures for all its server types, all the better.

"Before we were forced to use tape to back up our AS400," Hoag said. "Now we don't have to do that."

The health center's new System i5 box runs all of the private company's financial programs, such as accounts receivable, billing and payroll. Hoag said he's a "big fan" of the iSeries. The hospital's data center also has Unix, Linux and Windows servers that have a more comprehensive backup program from Unitrends called bare-metal restore.

A bare-metal restore is the process of reformatting a computer -- including the reinstallation of the operating system, applications, data and settings -- after a complete failure. The new Unitrends release for the iSeries only does data recovery for now, but Hoag hopes it will eventually include bare metal.

Mark Phillippi, Unitrends vice president of product engineering and management, said the company is now considering whether to release a bare-metal restore program for the System i. According to Phillippi, OS400 currently has that capability, so Unitrends is trying to figure out if it should have its own program do the same thing.

"We're trying to decide whether it's worth it or not to reinvent the wheel to have everything integrated," he said. "We are looking at and experimenting whether to provide true bare-metal support for the AS400."

The Rapid Recovery System includes data protection units, which back up data onsite and data protection vaults, which transfer the data offsite to a secure location. Unitrends says its system is better than a virtual tape library (VTL) because it replicates a full file system rather than headers and pointers to sequential data access. The company can protect multiple terabytes of data for as long as users want, and deploys the necessary units to accomplish that level of protection.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer

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