Disk image backups of AIX (risc) server . . .

I am a windows guy whos just had an AIX 5.1  IBM eServer p5 550 (risc processor) system dumped in my lap to support.

Although the drives on this IBM eServer are mirrored, Im very concerned about backup & recovery.

Id like to use a tool like Acronis to boot from CD, and snapshot the drives to an external or network drive.

Im just at the beginning stages of this project, so I dont even know basic things yet like if the same boot cd that works with intel processors will work with IBM RISC (Im guessing not).

I only have one of these servers, which is the production box, so being a non unix guy, I dont want to install software in production just to create the boot cd which is essentially the process under acronis/windows.

I should mention we are a VMware shop, so if I could p2v the aix 5.1 unix server, then run it virtually, maybe that might provide some interesting options for backup as well (although I dont know the vendor of this stand-a-lone system will support it running in a vm).

Also: are there any gotchas or issues when restoring an image backup in this environment?  I think in Vista, Ive heard of some shocking horror-stories on image restores.

Any thoughts would be very much appreciated,

Thanks,
Mike


mike2401Asked:
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Kent OlsenDBACommented:
Hi mike2401,

Backing up an AIX server is nothing like backing up a Windows box.

It doesn't make a lot of sense to make an image backup the entire file system.  You really need a couple of strategies.  The root drive is almost always mirrored so that if a drive were to fail, the system isn't dead.  Typically the ONLY things on this drive are the critical operating system files.  You should be able to delete every other device and still run AIX, though your applications won't exist.    An image backup of this device makes sense as if you were to actually lose both halves of the mirror, you've still got a sound recovery point.  Note that you only need back this device up when you make system changes.

As for the other devices, let your regular backup policies dictate how to back them up.  If you're using Tivoli or similar tool, I'd certainly let it do all of the "heavy lifting" here.


Good Luck,
Kent
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sjm_eeCommented:
Q I dont even know basic things yet like if the same boot cd that works with intel processors will work with IBM RISC (Im guessing not)

A You guess correct. The media that an AIX box will boot from is either a AIX install media, IBM server diagnostics or  a mksysb.


Q Also: are there any gotchas or issues when restoring an image backup in this environment?  I think in Vista, Ive heard of some shocking horror-stories on image restores.

A AIX has been working with image backup/restore since 1990 via a command called "mksysb". However, the usual medium is tape.

Does your system have a tape drive? The other common way to backup such servers is over a network to another one - but if this is your only one tape would be the way to go compared to CD/DVD as you may get the whole system on one tape.
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mike2401Author Commented:
Sadly, we didn't buy the tape drive when the vendor setup this system because we were planning on backing it up to our mainframe.  

The folder containing the application (and application) are compressed to a single file each night, which is then FTP'd to our windows file server.

And yes: I am concerned about losing both halves of the mirror (especially since I'm not physically in the computer room each day)

The other reason I really want a disk image backup is that I'd like to: shut down the system, remove both drives, put in two blanks and see if a image restore works.

All this mksysb , etc., scares the heck out this windows guy

I do have an inquiry in with Acrons to see if their product might work from a boot from cd motif.

The more I think of it, I doubt the VM thing will be an option because there is a physical modem connected for vendor support.

Thanks,
Mike
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Kent OlsenDBACommented:
Hi mike2401,

>> All this mksysb , etc., scares the heck out this windows guy

Welcome to the big leagues.  :)

Actually, once you get your hands dirty and get used to thinking like a unix admin, this will be a snap.  

You'll find that you can do just about anything in unix that you can in Windows.  It's just that the terminology, commands, and interfaces are different.

As I said earlier, the biggest issue here is to realize that the root drive is special.  Treat it that way.  Everything else is user data.  If your environment is configured correctly, you should be able to restore either the root drive or the user volumes and still have a stable system.  I certainly wouldn't bet that I can restore my C: drive and have a usable Windows server....


Good Luck,
Kent
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gheistCommented:
You have to use mksysb boot tape and all volume group backups.
volume group backups can be put on network storage if you are short on tape media. But one mksysb should always complement system to avoid complete reinstall of everything in case of failed patches.
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mike2401Author Commented:
Thanks All,
I think were going to buy the vendor recommended tape drive so we can use their standard backup/restore.  This is a vendor turn-key system, so I think using their standard makes good sense.

Regards,
Mike
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gheistCommented:
The "just works" hack does mt manipulations with nonrewinding device and is able tp put vg backups along with mksysb...
Mksysb needs bootable tape drive. Vendor may recommend LTO4 that will require microcode updates before restore (not included in mksysb)
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mike2401Author Commented:
Thanks.  I'll ask the vendor about that.  Thanks again everyone for the info,
Mike
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