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Increasing the efficiency of creating and managing disaster-tolerant copies of online data. The backup or replication of on-line data repositories for the purpose of improving disaster tolerance is the critical issue facing IT management today. The interruption of application availability as well as the resources required to create and manage backups must be reduced as on-line storage systems rapidly grow within data centers. Storage networking technology evolution is for the first time providing the underlying tools needed to implement data movement, classification, and organizational systems that can dramatically reduce the cost-of-ownership for completing backup operations. The SNIA/Backup Working Group (BWG) is comprised of system vendors, storage component manufacturers, storage management software providers, as well as customers. It is uniquely chartered within the storage industry to develop the necessary specifications and partnerships required to improve backup operational efficiency.

Short Term Objectives:

Collect and analyze existing standards and architectures within the industry to identify components that can be applied to the SNIA/BWG Charter. These standards and architectures may be modified and/or incorporated into work product of the SNIA/BWG.

Develop specific functional goals for a storage network based data-mover and build a straw man architecture into which functional components can be layered.

Develop and maintain a Web site to foster timely communications.

Enterprise Backup In Storage Area Networks

The BBWG has begun efforts to collect and analyze existing standards and architectures within the industry to identify components that can be applied to enterprise backup in a storage area network. Specifically the BWG is concentrating in the following areas:

* Extended copy

* Snaphot/Checkpoint

* Device addressing

* Session management

In backup implementations today CPU utilization and network traffic can be so high that they would leave fewer server resources to execute user and system processes. One solution to this problem is to build an extended copy feature in the SAN and perform a server-less backup, moving data directly to/from tape, offloading both the server and network of the actual data movement. Data movement in this fashion does not consume server resources, such as CPU cycles, memory or I/O, and the system can run more efficiently. The extended copy functionality can also be used for data migration and replication services such as disk mirroring and data vaulting. The BWG has developed a specification for an extended (or third party) copy command and passed the specification to the SCSI/T1O standards group, which is in the process of approval.

The BWG has identified the next three priorities for investigation: snapshot/checkpoint; device addressing; and session management. The snapshot/checkpoint capability is useful for many applications, including backup. It enables active data sets to be protected without locking out users and/or applications. While there are numerous software implementations, RAID vendors CLARiiON, Hitachi and EMC have implemented this functionality within RAID controllers. However, each vendor has provided a different API to this service. The goal of the BWG is to develop a common API for the snapshot/checkpoint functionality, which all RAID and Backup software vendors can implement.

In current SAN implementations, tape devices are attached to Fibre Channel via FC-SCSI bridges. Different vendors have selected different schemes for addressing the SCSI devices attached to the bridge. Device drivers as well as auto-configuration and management of services would be simplified by the use of one standard addressing scheme. The BWG is working to develop a uniform method for addressing devices through FC-SCSI bridges.

In implementing the extended copy functionality a number of other issues arise, one of which is how to better manage data movement and the associated resources. The BWG is investigating how to tie extended copy functionality to the management framework.

The SNIA/BWG has formed individual working groups to address the architecture and specification of snapshot/checkpoint, device addressing, and session management. The individual working groups are meeting as a team and will work with industry standards organizations to gain acceptance and ratification of the specifications. The timelines for these efforts are being developed by the subgroups and will be published as work progresses.
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Title Annotation:Industry Trend or Event; Storage Networking Industry Association/ BWG Charter, to improve backup operational efficiency
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Date:Sep 1, 1999
Previous Article:SNIA Technology Mission.

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