When we read that IBM was recommending users who are currently using the DAT160GB tape system move to the RDX drive system for backup purposes, we decided we would give it a try. First of all we checked with a number of people that the RDX drives were a suitable backup device and to make sure it was going to be supported on our small 720 system (IBM seemed to be positioning at our size of company and hardware) before we placed the order. We placed the order over a week ago and the drive finally arrived today.
After finding out that our planned move to VIOS based partitioning was flawed and not possible with internal disk, we had high hopes that the support for RDX technology would be a big step forward from our current backup technology (tape is painfully slow and error prone) especially as we have multiple partitions. We made the decision to purchase the enclosure and 2x320GB drives at the same time we purchased the hardware/software to support the move to VIOS partitions. We understood the ethernet card and PowerVM licenses were now extra to requirements, but we still hoped that the investment in the new drive technology would be worthwhile.
All of the hardware and software turned up today so we unpacked the drives and enclosure and attached it to the IBM i via the front USB port. It was powered on and the drive inserted which showed all green lights on the front of the enclosure.
First problem we came across was the drive would not show up in the hardware configs, when we previously migrated back to i-hosting-i we did not allocate the USB adapter in the hardware profiles, so a quick configuration update was made and the drive finally showed up in the available resources on the partition. Next we decided to test moving the drive between partitions (systems) using the DLPAR options, it all seemed to work fine as long as we ensured the device was varied off prior to the DLPAR move request. It did take some time for the adapter to move and even longer for the device to show up in the partitions.
Once we were happy with the ability to move between partitions we formatted the drive in anticipation of using it for our daily/weekly backups. The format was very quick and showed the correct 320Gb of available space on the drive. We then tried to add it to the backup schedule in place of our tape device was where we came across the biggest problem, the IBM i BACKUP options provided with the OS only support tape drives!! So we are now faced with having to develop our own backup processes to allow us to use it the drive for our backups.
We are still unsure how the backup will be stored on the drive, IBM has indicated that it should function in the same manner as a tape meaning that it will allow multiple saves to be carried out to the same device and write to the end of the last save. We now have to build the save processes and set them up to replace the OS based solution that we have today. Once we get the save processes developed we will report back just how good the drives are and how easy they will be to use for our simple backup requirements. Have to stick with Tape for now unless IBM adds support for the RMS devices in the OS BACKUP solution in the near future. Yet again our IBM connections really didn’t know the capabilities of the RDX drives in an IBM i environment, maybe we can come up with some answers…