Putting data from IBM i on Amazon S3 using i2S3

Kisco Systems i2S3 allows transfer of data from the AS/400 to Amazon S3 storage in the cloud. With familiar CL commands, the product is easy to use, and can fill storage needs. The danger is the security of S3 cloud storage, with no guarantee from Amazon of data security.

Kisco Information Systems recently released i2S3, a cloud based backup/recovery solution that interfaces with Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3). Essentially i2S3 provides IBM i customers a simple and effective utility to save and restore objects to and from off site repositories at Amazon.

Amazon S3 is a Web service that provides unlimited file storage for a low monthly charge per gigabyte stored plus

additional charges for bandwidth usage and each "get/put" request. S3 has approximately an impressive 64 billion objects stored as of August 2009.

Installation and Setup
Because i2S3 interfaces with Amazon S3, I first had to create an account at Amazon and provide credit card information as a method of payment.

You can either download a copy of i2S3 or have one mailed to you. I downloaded the iso image from their website and followed the online installation instructions. I also downloaded the very detailed user manual to get a feel for the product and understand how to use it. I'm partial to image catalogs on IBM i so I was impressed to see that as the primary installation procedure – it seems Kisco is interested in using and promoting current IBM features.

Once you have i2S3 installed and the Amazon account created, you're ready to create a bucket which is an area defined on Amazon's servers to which you store your data. When your bucket is created you can begin using i2S3's custom commands to save/restore data using Amazon's storage service.

Using i2S3 from the IBM i
Most IBM i commands have a counterpart command in i2S3. For example, the SAVOBJ equivalent would be S3SAVOBJ. The main difference is that S3SAVOBJ lets you choose which bucket you want to save the objects to, rather than pick a save file or tape drive.

The following are a list of the IBM i supplied commands compared with the i2S3 commands:

IBM i Command i2S3 Command Description
SAVOBJ S3SVOBJ Save object
SAVCHGOBJ S3SAVCHGOB Save changed objects
SAVLIB S3SAVLIB Save library
SAVSAVFDTA S3SAVSAVF Save save file
SAV S3SAV Save object (stream file)
RSTOBJ S3RSTOBJ Restore object
RSTLIB S3RSTLIB Restore library
N/A S3RSTSAVF Restore save file
RST S3RST Restore object (stream file)
i2S3 is very simple to use... all of the menus are very nicely laid out and consistent.
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Saving data to and restoring from i2S3 is fairly easy. Essentially each save command bundles data into save files and transports them to the specified bucket at Amazon. The restore operation works similarly as the save file is downloaded to IBM i and then the object is restored. If you know the IBM i save/restore command, the S3 command is right at your fingertips.

i2S3 is very simple to use once you get the initial product installation and Amazon setup completed. All of the menus are very nicely laid out and consistent.

i2S3 highlights
It's a very simple utility to get frequently changing data off site. i2S3 is great as a strategic backup and recovery software for source code, snapshots of application data, or an online backup/recovery server for multiple systems. It's very easy to install and use.

Since downloading and installing the product, any email requests I've sent for information or general support were answered within minutes. In fact, just hours after I downloaded a copy I received an email stating that a newer version had just been published and that I should download the latest version to take advantage of patches and enhancements. It's encouraging to know Kisco would do that. Fast and thorough product support is a really big plus in my book.

Areas for improvement and security concerns
The negatives are mostly related to Amazon S3 and not the i2S3 product itself. However, one of the few negatives with i2S3 is that the data transferred to Amazon is not currently encrypted; however that feature will be coming within the coming weeks, according to Kisco President, Rich Loeber. If any form of data is leaving my company network I need it to be encrypted -- this is an absolutely critical requirement.

The only other small issue is that i2S3 needs temporary space to store a save file for upload/download. If you have a very small system you may have some storage issues by creating big temporary save files in preparation for save/restore, but I would think that if you have a 40GB system you probably won't be transmitting vast quantities of data, making it a moot point for most companies. The maximum size for transmission to Amazon S3 is 7GB.

S3 comes with no guarantee your stored data will "be secure or not otherwise lost or damaged."
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Regarding Amazon S3, if the data you transmit is sensitive or critical, be advised of the Amazon Web Service customer agreement (especially Section 11.5 – Disclaimers). Amazon S3 comes with no guarantee your stored data will "be secure or not otherwise lost or damaged." A lot of vendors might use jargon like that in order to legally cover themselves but that doesn't mean I feel warm and fuzzy about putting sensitive data on Amazon S3 after reading the customer agreement. Source code and software application versions are one thing and may be fair game depending on your security standpoint, but I personally wouldn't store nightly payroll data there. That kind of data gets sent to tape and then up to the off-site fireproof vault in my shop.

i2S3 Pricing
i2S3 is $1,295 (USD) for a single system license (stand alone or logical partition). You can deploy the product to an unlimited amount of servers or LPAR's for $2,195.

Amazon's S3 pricing model as of October 26, 2009, is as follows:

Storage

  • $0.150 per GB – first 50 TB / month of storage used
  • $0.140 per GB – next 50 TB / month of storage used
  • $0.130 per GB – next 400 TB /month of storage used
  • $0.120 per GB – storage used / month over 500 TB

Data transfer

  • $0.100 per GB – all data transfer in
  • $0.170 per GB – first 10 TB / month data transfer out
  • $0.130 per GB – next 40 TB / month data transfer out
  • $0.110 per GB – next 100 TB / month data transfer out
  • $0.100 per GB – data transfer out / month over 150 TB

Requests

  • $0.01 per 1,000 PUT, COPY, POST, or LIST requests
  • $0.01 per 10,000 GET and all other requests

Kisco's i2S3 is a dandy little utility for to introduce your IBM i to a storage cloud. I'd seriously consider it for backup and recovery of data that's not sensitive or critical considering the final destination.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Pitcher is the Enterprise Servers and Application Analyst for Minas Basin Pulp & Power in NS, Canada. He's been specializing in System i and Lotus Domino solutions for the last decade. His blog, ENDJOBABN covers his adventures in, and amusement with, his work on the IBM i and Lotus Domino.

This was first published in October 2009

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