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Using ASR to Clone Volumes

I need to backup 2 Apple Xserve computers that run a proprietary application without having any additional equipment connected to, or software installed on them.  After doing a little research I am proposing  to buy an additional Xserve and using the ASR utility running on the 3rd Xserve clone the disk volumes over the network to space on it.  I can then hold the clones as near storage backup in addition to using a backup solution on the 3rd server to copy them to tape.

I have a couple of questions:

1. Does this sound like it would work?
2. I've heard that ASR may have a size limitation - is this true?

Machines are running OS X 10.3.
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jheighes
Asked:
jheighes
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1 Solution
 
weedCommented:
Sounds like a very complicated way to do a simple backup. It would be so much easier to throw a firewire drive on them, and use SuperDuper! to create a disk image of each. Why cant you connect a HD to it, and why cant you install backup software on it? SuperDuper is WAY small.
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idarmadiCommented:
I agree with weed.  It's a bit complicated for a simple (?) backup job.

My favorit is Carbon Copy Cloner (www.bombich.com).  It's small, and clone a hard disk pretty good.  Got some interface to psync and ASR.  You can check it out first, it's donation-ware.

Good luck.
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jheighesAuthor Commented:
The vendor wants us to use an attached Firewire drive to image to, but that doesn't give us the same backup scheduling capability that we have for backing up all our other servers.  We need to do daily backups of at least the data and the vendor will not have a solution for this for 3-6 months.  In the interim we need a scheme that can be run daily by a scheduler and will allow us to get the data offsite per our normal schedule.  Connecting and disconnecting Firewire drives and shipping them around doesn't sound like a reasonable solution.  Also buying a bunch of Firewire drives doesn't give us much in the way of reusability once we have the vendors solution.

Another solution proposed by the vendor was to install an FC card in each server and do mirrored writes to an XRAID box that would be installed in our SAN fabric in our backup data center (we have dark fiber between the primary and backup DC's).  Our problems with this are:

1. Not sure if mirrored writes work at the OS level if one half is internal drives (one server has a single 60GB drive, the other has a 60GB system drive and three 174GB drives in a RAID 0 set) and the other is a partition on and external FC array.
2. It's a way expensive solution by the time you figure in the switch ports etc. for a 3-6 month solution
3. What do we do with an XRAID box once we are done?

The reason we chose buying another Xserve is that from what we understand ASR is capable of imaging across to the 3rd server (and I had looked at CCC to see if it would make things easier, but this will run scripted so wasn't sure).  When we get the eventual solution we will be about ready to expand the configuration and that would require 1-2 more Xserve's so reusability is taken care of.

I agree it's a complicated answer to what should be a simple question, but unfortunately the vendor is being VERY inflexible regarding the mechanism we use to do this.  They have to approve of any hardware or software installed on the servers to prevent us voiding the warranty, so we've been driven to be a little creative.

Any other comments would be appreciated.  As I mentioned before, I read that there was a size limit on the drive that ASR could clone.  Is that true?  Also, would the ASR utility be able to run from the target computer and get a clean image or would it have to run on the source boxes?

Many thanks for any assistance.
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weedCommented:
I'm not sure I see the point of backing up an xServe anyway. As long as the internal drives are in a raid-5 array, there is an excellent degree of fault tolerance. It's diagnostic tools are the best you can get and it'll let you know when one of the drives is dying or dead. Swap it out, and the other drives will rebuild it.
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jheighesAuthor Commented:
The internal drives are RAID 0 not RAID 5 (so actually more rather than less danger), and we also have to be concerned with less likely events like data corruption and also DR & BCP.  

This product runs in a corporate data center and the data it harvests is subject to compliance retention rules mandated by government agencies, so we are obliged to make every effort to provide backup and recoverability.
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weedCommented:
Is raid 5 a possibility?

If you REALLY want to you can do it with an extra xServe, and use ASR but yeow....slow and painfully complicated.
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jheighesAuthor Commented:
Remember RAID 5 only fixes a small part of the problem (and btw, we thought it was RAID 5 until we did some checking and then found RAID 0 is being used for performance reasons).  We still have an obligation to backup the data to allow "point-in-time" restores and to get those backups off site.

I guess how slow and why painfully complicated?  I figure it's a couple of scripts to run the ASR utility and a couple of CRON jobs.  This should be duck soup for a UNIX admin to setup unless I'm missing something.
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weedCommented:
Under the worst case scenario you have 750gb of data to run over, at best, a gigabit ethernet line. No small task. Not to mention hogging up your outbound bandwidth from that machine.

ASR isn't exactly fast either.
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jheighesAuthor Commented:
These machines are on a dedicated 1GB network and within the next 3-6 months the volume of data would be limited to about 5GB for each system drive and only about 30GB tops for the array, so 40GB overall.   We would plan to image once a week (like a full backup) and do the equivalent to a differential backup with copies on the array data daily to keep it "fresh" in between.

The backup server would then connect to the internal networks on it's other NIC.

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weedCommented:
Sounds ok...i think there are better ways but it sounds like the plan you have will work.
Dont forget that rdist exists and could be handy if you wanted to automate it.
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jheighesAuthor Commented:
I would love to hear of any better ideas ... I'm a Windows guy who's had to do a bunch of reading to try and find a solution we can live with.  Because of the vendor insists we do not touch the configuration of the servers he installed (no software or hardware can be installed) this was the best idea I could come up with while maintaining equipment reusability.

It's also given me an appreciation of both the Xserve and OS X as a work environment.  The vendor made a wise choice porting his app from Windows to OS X, but we are just suffereing while he plays catch up on the features.
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weedCommented:
Going back to an earlier comment. You cant void the warranty by attaching a drive, installing hardware or software.

There are lots of ways to make a backup in this situation but it sounds like you've got a method figured out that'll work the way you want it to. Go for it.
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jheighesAuthor Commented:
It's not the Apple Warranty ... it's the Warranty for the 3rd party software ... they are very cautious about what gets connected because one of the servers is harvesting real-time data.  Although the 2 servers communicate, the process is asynchronous so a busy network for a short period of time would be fine.

Just wanted to make sure that in my virgin Apple state I wasn't overlooking anything.

Many thanks for all your help ... I'll go ahead and award the points.
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idarmadiCommented:
Jheighes,

This is quite a case.  It's not a 'simple' backup as I thought. :)  

I check the 'man' for asr, and I think size limit is not an issue in Panther (I heard that in Jaguar, 4GB is the limit. cmiww).

In the man page, the example given are 80GB, 256GB, and 480GB

Good luck. :)
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