Book Excerpt: SAN Backup and Recovery Page 8


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Backing Up the Backup Mirror

This section explains what's involved in backing up a backup mirror to another server.


Figure 4-6 again illustrates a typical backup mirror backup configuration. There is a main backup server (Backup Server A) that is connected to a tape library (via SCSI or Fibre Channel) and connected to the data server via a LAN. The data server is connected via Fibre Channel to the storage array, and its datafiles and transaction logs reside on its primary disk sets. The datafiles have a backup mirror associated with them, and it's connected via Fibre Channel to a device server (Backup Server B), and that device server is connected via SCSI to another tape library.

Figure 4-6. Another client-free backup configuration


TIP:   Multihosted storage arrays have a SAN built into them. You can put extra switches or hubs between the storage array and the servers connecting to it, but it isn't necessary unless the number of servers that you wish to connect to the storage array exceeds the number of Fibre Channel ports the array has.

To back up a database, you must back up its datafiles (and other files) and its transaction logs. The datafiles contain the actual database, and the transaction logs contain the changes to the database since the last time you backed up the datafiles. Once you restore the datafiles, the transaction logs can then replay the transactions that occurred between the time of the datafile backup and the time of the failure. Therefore, you must back up the transaction logs continually, because they are essential to a good recovery.

Back up the transaction logs

As shown in Figure 4-7, transaction logs are often backed up to disk (1), and then to tape (2). This is my personal preference, but it isn't required. The reason I prefer to back up to disk and then to tape is that replaying the transaction logs is the slowest part of the restore, and having the transaction logs available on disk significantly speeds up the process. The log disk may or may not be on the storage array and doesn't need a backup mirror.

Figure 4-7. Backing up the transaction logs


You can also see in Figures 4-5 and 4-6 that the transaction logs don't need to be backed up via the split mirror. The reason for this is that there is no supported methods for backing up transaction logs this way. Therefore, there is no reason to put them on the backup mirror.

As discussed previously, the backup mirror is left split from the primary disk set (3). The following list details how transaction logs are backed with Exchange, Informix, Oracle, and SQL Server:

As discussed previously, the only way to back up Exchange's transaction logs is to write an application that communicates directly with Microsoft's API.

Informix's transaction logs are called logical logs and can be backed up directly to tape or disk. Again, I recommend backing up to disk first, followed by a backup to tape, since recovering logical logs from disk is much faster than recovering them from tape. If you plan to perform client-free backups, you need to use Informix's onbar command, which provides the log_full.sh script to kick off the backups of logical logs whenever one becomes full. Although the setup in the next section may look involved, once it's complete, logical log backup and recovery is actually easy with Informix.

Oracle's transaction logs are called redo logs, and the backup to disk is accomplished with Oracle's standard archiving procedure. This is done by placing the database in archive log mode and specifying automatic archiving. As soon as one online redo log is filled, Oracle switches to the next one and begins copying the full log to the archived redo log location. To back up these archived redo logs to tape, you can use an incremental backup that runs once an hour or more often if you prefer.

SQL Server
As discussed previously, you will not be able to use SQL Server's dump transaction command in conjunction with a split backup. If you need point-in-time recovery, you need to choose another backup method.

Back up the datafiles

It's now time to back up the datafiles. In order to do that, you must:

  1. Establish the backup mirror to the primary disk set.
  2. Put the database in backup mode, or sync the filesystem.
  3. Split the backup mirror.
  4. Take the database out of backup mode.
  5. Import and mount the backup mirror volumes to the backup server.
  6. Back up the backup mirror volumes to tape.

The details of how these steps are accomplished are discussed next.

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Building SANs with Brocade Fabric Switches

W. Curtis Preston has specialized in designing backup and recovery systems for over eight years, and has designed such systems for many environments, both large and small. The first environment that Curtis was responsible for went from 7 small servers to 250 large servers in just over two years, running Oracle, Informix, and Sybase databases and five versions of Unix. He started managing this environment with homegrown utilities and eventually installed the first of many commercial backup utilities. His passion for backup and recovery began with managing the data growth of this 24x7, mission-critical environment. Having designed backup systems for environments with small budgets, Curtis has developed a number of freely available tools, including ones that perform live backups of Oracle, Informix, and Sybase. He has ported these tools to a number of environments, including Linux, and they are running at companies around the world. Curtis is now the owner of Storage Designs, a consulting company dedicated entirely to selecting, designing, implementing, and auditing storage systems. He is also the webmaster of www.backupcentral.com.


1. This term may be changed in the near future, since iSCSI-based SANs will, of course, use the LAN. But if you create a separate LAN for iSCSI, as many experts are recommending, the backups will not use your production LAN. Therefore, the principle remains the same, and only the implementation changes.

2. As mentioned later in this chapter, SCSI devices can be connected to more than one host, but it can be troublesome.

3. This is actually a high rate of change, but it helps prove the point. Even with a rate of change this high, the drives still go unused the majority of the time.

4. 1.575 TB ÷ 8 hours ÷ 60 minutes ÷ 60 seconds = 54.6 MB/s

5. There are several tape drives capable of these backup speeds, including AIT-3, LTO, Mammoth, Super DLT, 3590, 9840, and DTF.

6. 20 minutes × 24 hosts = 480 minutes, or 8 hours

7. These are Unix prices. Obviously, Windows-based cards cost much less.

8. Although it's possible that some software products have also implemented a third-party queuing system for the robotic arm as well, I am not aware of any that do this. As long as you have a third-party application controlling access to the tape library and placing tapes into drives that need them, there is no need to share the robot in a SCSI sense.

9. Network Appliance filers appear to act this way, but the WAFL filesystem is quite a bit different. They store a "before" image of every block that is changed every time they sync the data from NVRAM to disk. Each time they perform a sync operation, they leave a pointer to the previous state of the filesystem. A Network Appliance snapshot, then, is simply a reference to that pointer. Please consult your Network Appliance documentation for details.

10. It was the Microsoft's partnership with Veritas that finally made this a reality. The volume manager for Windows 2000 is a "lite" version of Veritas Volume Manager.

11. Prior to 9i, this was done with the suvrmgr command, but this command has been removed from 9i.

12. There are vendors that are shipping gigabit network cards that offload the TCP/IP processing from the server. They make LAN-based backups easier, but LAN-free backups are still better because of the design of most backup software packages.

13. It's not quite 100%, since the second stripe doesn't have to be a RAID 5 set. If it were simply a RAID 0 set, you'd need about 90% more disk than you already have.

14. If your backup software supports library sharing.

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