Fiserv Financial Risk Management Solutions is a UNIX shop with production servers running IBM's AIX operating system. Recently, in a bid to go tapeless and boost disaster recovery, the custom application developer for the banking industry shifted its AIX backup storage to Windows-based STORServer appliances.
The STORServer integrated appliance is built on hardware and software developed by IBM, including the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) data-protection platform. Fiserv FRMS needed it to run Windows Server 2008. The project required re-architecting Tivoli databases and machine-by-machine migration of individual AIX clients to Windows-based storage.
Fiserv FRMS, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, purchased two STORServer BA601 appliances to replace a 10-year-old AIX backup system. Each BA601 provides 20 TB of storage.
One STORServer device is installed on-site in Charlotte to back up 4.5 TB of primary storage on AIX servers, including source code and quality assurance data. Roughly 5% of that data -- or about 270 GB -- changes daily, according to AIX system administrator Rick Besterman. Production data from the Charlotte data center gets replicated daily to a second STORServer machine at a remote location.
Fiserv FRMS is a division of Fiserv Inc., which provides information systems to banks and credit unions. The Charlotte unit develops and tests source code used in applications for customer relationship management, transaction processing, and risk management.
"The application source code is what generates our revenue. It's what we deliver to our customers," Besterman said.
Fiserv's decision to purchase STORServer was made at the corporate level, and Besterman said he initially had doubts the transition from AIX to a Windows platform would go smoothly.
"I knew what we were asking STORServer to do was unusual. In fact, STORServer told me we were the only ones that ever asked to migrate data from an AIX-based backup server to a Windows-based backup server," he said.
At the recommendation of IBM's Enterprise Business Unit, Besterman hired STORServer reseller CHATR Inc. to handle the systems integration. In addition to the STORServer appliances, Fiserv FRMS purchased about a dozen new AIX servers, adding 86 cores of protection in a mix of four-, six- and eight-core machines running TSM Extended Edition Client Device V6.4, which replaced a proprietary version of Tivoli that IBM stopped supporting in 2007.
"We did a lot of prep work with STORServer to identify AIX clients that needed to be backed up. We had to make sure they would work properly when we bolted them up to the new STORServer Windows-based Tivoli appliance," Besterman said.
Upgrading Tivoli V6.4 to run on Windows posed a technical hurdle. Tivoli defines each AIX system as a discrete client. The database for AIX clients had to be exported individually from the unsupported version of Tivoli and imported to Version 6.4, which relies on IBM DB2 database software to manage backups, set policies and manage log files.
When data was moved to the newer version of Tivoli, backups had to be immediately reconfigured for the Windows environment in STORServer. As a safeguard, the older AIX backup system ran in parallel with the STORServer backups for a period of time to provide redundancy.
CHATR moved AIX backups to Windows STORServer in 16 days without losing any data. Fiserv FRMS spent about $160,000 on the project, including the STORServer appliances and systems integration.
Adding STORServer alleviates the manually intensive task of rounding up backup tapes for offsite storage. Fiserv FRMS uses production bandwidth to replicate data between STORServer machines during off hours, providing over-the-wire disaster recovery in near real time of several hours.
"Initially, I had a lot of angst, but the STORServer appliances have proven they can handle the type of storage needs we have," Besterman said.