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October 29, 2018

Your mainframe is the backbone of your organization. It likely handles your mission-critical workloads and most sensitive data. Even if your mainframe’s hardware and software are rock-solid, what happens if your mainframe or supporting infrastructure fails due to a catastrophic event, such as a fire, a natural disaster, a network failure, or a major issue caused by human error? That’s why it’s important to have a fully tested backup and recovery plan just for your mainframe.

When it comes to backup and recovery, a mainframe presents unique challenges. The recovery will involve operating systems, applications, and data, and the recovery plan may need to be integrated with the non-mainframe environment.

In this article, we address 3 mainframe disaster recovery challenges. Plus, we explore new options for the backup and recovery of mainframe systems.

1. Expense

Setting up a dedicated duplicate mainframe disaster recovery solution in a secondary data center may be impractical due to the total cost of ownership (TCO). Storing your data in a general-purpose cloud service involves a monthly cost per terabyte, plus a data egress fee should you need to access the data.

2. Data Management and Integrity

Data volume, complexity, and compliance are becoming more difficult to manage. Compliance and regulation pressures are creating an atmosphere in which businesses are compelled to save all their data ― for what sometimes seems to be forever.

Using traditional backup and recovery methods (such as magnetic tape) to offset the pressures of data volume, complexity, and compliance is becoming more difficult and expensive. To ensure the safety and security of your most important data, you’ll need a cost-effective and creative approach to backup and recovery. At the end of this article, we’ll discuss some new options.

In the event of a mainframe failure, full data integrity is of the utmost importance. Your recovery efforts will be hampered if backups are out-of-sync, incomplete, corrupted, or incorrectly indexed.

If the integrity of your data isn’t perfect, you’ll need to turn to manual processes to validate or recreate files. Depending on the extent of loss to data integrity, this process could be painfully slow and expensive.

On the other hand, if you achieve perfect data integrity, you can recover your mainframe systems in just a few minutes.

To ensure reliable data integrity for your mainframe backups, you have a few options:

Mirrored storage system: If the fastest recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) are necessary, a mirrored synchronous or asynchronous system could be the right option. However, this involves owning duplicate storage hardware and may be prohibitively expensive for smaller In some cases, a co-location or an off-site hybrid flash storage solution is a more cost-effective option.

Virtual tape solution: This can be a cost-effective backup solution providing data replication between the primary and disaster recovery sites, but many organizations struggle to integrate virtual tape into existing backup and recovery practices. In that case, it might help to work with a third-party provider that has expertise in virtual tape backup solutions.

Cloud backup: This is an emerging mainframe strategy that comes with its own set of challenges. Many cloud providers do not have mainframe servers available for recovery. You may need to develop integration solutions to manage the transition. Large data sets can be expensive to store, involve unanticipated data egress fees, and be time-consuming to retrieve from cloud providers.

3. Data Transformation and Recovery

After you have solved the problem of backup data storage, you’ll need a solution for data recovery. In other words, after your mainframe has failed, you’ll need the ability to transform your recovered data into useable formats.

Again, the success of your data transformation and recovery efforts will depend on the integrity of the data you stored.

If your data set is correct, up-to-date, and indexed, you’ll be able to recover your files quickly. When users or applications need them, files will be available in the appropriate formats. On the flip side, if your data is corrupt, out-of-sync, or missing metadata, you’ll need to implement expensive, time-consuming manual processes to recover lost or corrupted files and records.

New Options for Mainframe Disaster Recovery

Without a doubt, there are significant challenges to mainframe backup and recovery, including high storage costs, issues with cloud integration, and problems with data integrity. Because mainframes have remained vital to many organizations, new options have come to market that make it easy and affordable to implement a solid backup and recovery solution for your mainframe.

A purpose-built specialty DRaaS is a potential turnkey approach and offers several benefits as a mainframe backup solution:

  • Data is stored at a geographically dispersed location, safe from structural damage, fire, or natural disaster.
  • The recovery solution undergoes frequent testing.
  • Mainframe experts are available for support.
  • Infrastructure such as mainframes and storage can be shared to provide a lower-cost solution.
  • Minimal IT staff are required to support and manage DRaaS.
  • You gain the ability to meet compliance requirements for data retention and security.

PSR Offers Hosted Mainframe Solutions

There are many variables that determine which backup and recovery solution makes sense for a company. If you’re not sure which recovery option would be the best fit for your business, contact PSR to consult with one of our mainframe experts.

 PSR has focused exclusively on mainframes for more than 35 years and has experience implementing complete on-premises and hosted disaster recovery solutions. When you partner with us on a purpose-built DRaaS for the mainframe, we will help protect your systems from human error, equipment failure, and natural disasters.

Want to know more about mainframe recovery solutions from PSR? Read our Mainframe Disk Replication case study.