5 Improved Features of Spectrum Protect (TSM)

First some housekeeping, Spectrum Protect is the new name for the artist formerly known as "TSM". This is a part of a major rebranding effort by IBM, click here for more information. Throughout this document, Spectrum Protect and TSM will be used interchangeably.

Five New Spectrum Protect Features that will transform your environment and get you to leverage Cloud Computing. Five Spectrum Protect features that tell a story.

Initial thoughts

Some of the features discussed here were a part of a previous release of Spectrum Protect, but have been improved upon significantly. In general, it's worth mentioning that current versions of Spectrum Protect have dramatic improvements in scalability, functionality and perhaps more importantly to vast majority of users, significant additions and enhancements in the tools available to manage a Spectrum Protect environment. Some of these software modules and functions are discussed here.

The foundation of backup environments have remained static over the years while the complexity of the environments being backed up have increased significantly. It's also no secret that the volume of data managed has seen tremendous growth, with no real end in sight. Compute/Storage & network platforms are 'modernizing' with the maturity of software defined data centers and the increasing acceptance of private/public clouds, while backup design has seen little change over the years. To support the evolving data center, backup administrators saw the rise in popularity of several niche products, supporting virtual only environments etc. and/or protecting workloads to public cloud providers. Similarly, Spectrum Protect software features and functions has evolved into a suite of products that allow IT to leverage a 'single' vendor to satisfy their backup and recovery needs.

(Please note that not all topics of discussion below are included in the Spectrum Protect base licensing, but are included under the Suite for Unified Recovery licensing model.)

In-line Deduplication

A word on deduplication:

A) Post-process deduplication: in TSM post-process deduplication, data is deduplicated as an admin process after backup is complete. This document will not cover the pros/cons of deduplication but in general, post-process requires that enough storage be allocated to accommodate the backup. Space is freed up at a later time, once duplicate blocks have been identified. This has been available in TSM for a while and was announced as a part of the version 6 rollout.

B) In-line deduplication: With the announcement of Spectrum Protect v7.1.3, we now have the capability, synonymous to a ProtecTier or DataDomain, where data is deduplicated before it hits the TSM disk pool, therefore realizing the space savings immediately in contrast with post process deduplication. Spectrum Protect 7.1.3 provides support for in-line deduplication. This is an important step towards moving away from tapes and tape management, and pave the way towards disk only backup environment while leveraging the economies of cloud computing.

Node Replication

TSM node replication allows for replication of data, on a client-by-client basis or groups of clients, and metadata from the source TSM server to a target TSM server. TSM 7.1.1 allows for the target TSM server to maintain a different retention setting at the target site as opposed to the source site. This allows for a 'tape like' scenario where the offsite copy has longer retention setting for offsite data, leveraging Object storage support (discussed below) as a lower cost offsite protection alterative. Node replication is deduplication aware and can help with minimizing data sent over the wire. TSM can replicate data to any site as long as there is a target TSM server, so this can be hosted in a public cloud environment, leveraging lower cost compute and storage. Node Replication allows for automated failover whereby a client, based on the failover server connection policy, can automatically be redirected to the target server for restore and retrieve operations.

Object Storage Support

TSM now natively supports Object storage, so whether it’s a private cloud using OpenStack Swift or a cloud storage provider in Softlayer (more options to come soon) and whether its primary storage or secondary offsite storage. This eliminates the need for a gateway device by providing direct support to the object storage. Initial support is for OpenStack Swift (private or public implementation), and Softlayer's Object store platform. Other major cloud providers to follow.

Spectrum Protect for Virtual Environments

Spectrum protect for VE protects and simplifies the backup of VMware and Hyper-V workloads by offloading all backups off the hosts and centralizing them onto the TSM server. In general, this allows for easier management of large backup environments without having to install BA clients in each of the clients while still protecting workloads with TSM's trademark forever incremental methodology. VM's added to the environment can be automatically added to a backup rotation without manual intervention, VM's can backed by datatores/folders/vCenter etc. New features in 7.1.3 include the ability to perform a browser based self-service restores taking us to more of a self-service model instead of the traditional IT dependent approach.

Operations Center (OC)

Management of TSM environments were one of the challenges with previous versions of TSM, OC has made significant improvements towards allowing backup admins to move away from having to use the CLI to now able to manage most every day to day activity using the OC. OC installs fairly easy and is easy to use and configure. It also allows for reports to be emailed automatically without any scripting . Tying it all in, OC is Node-replication and deduplication aware.

So in conclusion, Spectrum Protect has maintained and improved upon the enterprise class functionality it has always offered. It also allows end users to leverage cloud storage, migrate into a tapeless environment while combining In-line deduplication with Node replication. It eliminates the need for dedicated specialty hardware such as VTL's, WAN optimization devices and specialized replication software.

Solutions II helps our clients with Spectrum Protect every day and we know how you can get the most out of your environment. For questions, contact us at info@solutions-ii.com.

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