Advanced Backup technologies for the Linux Environment - Acronis by liuhongmeiyes


									          Advanced Backup technologies for the Linux

  Identifying the unique data protection and business continuity needs of
            database servers running on open source platform

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Solving the Linux Backup Conundrum with Imaging Technologies


This paper discusses the impact that open source solutions have on backup and disaster
recovery technology and how traditional backup technologies fail to meet the needs of
today’s IT infrastructures.

Many organizations are turning to open source solutions to improve the bottom line.
Leading the charge to savings is the Linux Operating System, readily available from
several vendors offering specialized distributions and bundles of the latest Linux Kernel.
The network operating system is just the beginning when it comes to open source, many
business are looking to shift database chores over to the open source product, MySQL,
which proves to be an affordable alternative to the likes of Oracle and Microsoft SQL

Calculating the bottom line and overall ROI (return on investment) extends far beyond
initial software costs, those shifting to open source solutions need to consider the long
term viability of the solution to truly calculate savings, an area often over looked until
deep into a transition to the new solution.

The true cost of the transition usually rears its ugly head when key elements such as
backup, recovery and archiving data for both protection and disaster recovery needs. That
situation seems to be magnified by the unique needs of an open source solution, which is
often installed as a line-of-business application such as e-commerce or data warehousing

Those applications leave little room for error when it comes to selecting the proper data
backup solution, and therein lies the biggest challenge for modern IT departments. The
very nature of open source solutions drives complicated customized applications, further
impacting the backup process. Simply put, the flexibility offered by open source
solutions, impacts the overall efficiency of traditional backup technologies.

     34% of companies fail to test their tape backups, and of those that do, 77%
     have found tape back-up failures. – Boston Computing Network

The Problem in Detail

Traditional backup solutions rely on file-based backup events, in other words, each file
contained on the system is opened and then copied to alternate media. That process
proves to be time consuming and does little to insure that the data is properly backed up
and synchronized.

The Failings of File-Based Backup Technologies:

   -   Slow Backup and Restore performance
   -   Inability to natively deal with open files
   -   Increased risk of data changing during the backup process, invalidating backups
   -   Typically relies on expensive tape based technology for storage
   -   Complex scripting interferes with ease of use
   -   Data restoration can be tedious
   -   Lack of bare-metal recovery capabilities prevents quick restores
   -   Software is expensive and often requires add-ons to perform needed tasks
   -   Lacks comprehensive rescue media capabilities

The Impact on Open Source Solutions

Linux users are faced with several options for backup, many of which introduce
additional overhead and costs into a company’s operating budget. The budgetary impact
doesn’t end with initial software purchase, additional costs come in the form of time
spent backing up, restoring, rotating and maintaining backup sets. That situation is
especially evident when using traditional file-by-file level backup solutions.

When adding the additional complexity of a SQL based solution, such as MySQL, it
becomes evident that traditional backup technologies come up short in the critical task of
protecting valuable data. That situation is further amplified by the “always open” status
of data files and indexes associated with SQL-based technologies. At best, that causes the
backup process to fail; at worst, the backup saves corrupted data. Usually the only way
to overcome open file concerns is to shut down the associated applications, which is not
feasible due to the 24x7 nature of most businesses, especially when one considers that
SQL solutions are used for ecommerce solutions. This is not to say that traditional file-
based backups are useless, just that the capabilities of those products do not offer the
flexibility needed by today’s applications and operating systems, especially for 24x7
operations. File based backups are still valuable when it comes to archiving data long
term or as part of transition process to upgraded hardware.

   93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster
   filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. 50% of businesses that found
   themselves without data management for this same time period filed for
   bankruptcy immediately. - National Archives & Records Administration in Washington

Solving the problem: Advanced systems need advanced solutions

The evidence shows that file-based backup solutions are no longer an appropriate choice
for backup of line of business applications and that file-based solutions come up short
when considering the implications of disaster recovery planning.

The answer lies with transitioning over to image-based backup solutions. Imaging is
rapidly becoming the first choice for comprehensive data backup on both server- and
desktop-based systems. The advantages offered by imaging are many.

The advantages of imaging technology:

   -   Faster backups: backup speed is limited only by system speed
   -   Flexible storage options: images can be saved to most any medium
   -   Rapid recovery: Systems can be completely restored in a few minutes
   -   Ease of use: Complete partition backups eliminate individual file selections
   -   Bare-metal Recovery: All data and system settings are stored in a portable image
   -   System State Tolerance: Open files and in-use processes don’t prevent backups

Imaging clearly offers the capability to solve most any backup problem. What’s more, the
technology lends itself well to disaster recovery planning and archiving capabilities.
Today’s imaging solutions (such as those available from Acronis) offer the same robust
feature set that file-based backup solutions have become known for. Features such as
incremental backups, scheduled backups and individual file restoration have been
incorporated into Acronis’ industry-leading imaging solutions. Those features, when
combined with the inherent speed and flexibility offered by imaging, proves to be a
winning combination that no other backup process can approach. What’s more, the cost
of hard disk-based backup solutions is rapidly becoming more cost effective than tape-
based storage solutions on the market. That helps to spell out increased ROI, while still
offering portability and speed.

   Companies that aren't able to resume operations within ten days (of a disaster hit)
   are not likely to survive. - Strategic Research Institute

Another area that imaging shows promise is with ease of use. Imaging products, by their
very design, are much easier to use and manage than file-based backup systems. Much of
that advantage can be attributed to the ability to capture complete data volumes as
opposed to being forced to select individual components to backup.

   30 percent of small businesses admit they have no formal data backup and storage
   procedures, or do not implement their procedures consistently.- Imation’s Small
   Business Survey Special Report

Leveraging the Imaging Process

With the advantages defined, it becomes quite easy to extrapolate where imaging as a
backup technology can benefit businesses of any size. Beyond the overall backup
strategy, imaging brings additional benefits that promise to improve greatly the backup
and recovery process, especially where database protection and rapid recovery are
primary concerns.

Database servers prove to be troublesome to backup, partially due to open files and
indexes and partially due to rapid data changes. Add in high-availability requirements
and backups using traditional methods become almost impossible to accomplish. Here is
where imaging can achieve its biggest improvement over file-based backup systems. To
really appreciate the benefits of an imaging product, one has to understand what would
normally be involved in backing up a database server, such as MySQL.

The manual process consists of two steps executed in the Linux Environment:
   - service mysql stop &&
   - scp -r /var/lib/mysql username at dest-pc:/var/lib/mysql

An example of what’s involved is outlined below:

Note: This assumes you have already installed MySQL Admin and set it up so that you
can log in to the MySQL Database Server either locally or remotely. Refer to the
documentation that comes with the installation package of MySQL Admin for your
platform for installation instructions.
    - Open the MySQL Admin client and login as you had previously set up to do
    - From the icon menu on the left hand side of the client window, select Backup
    - If you have not already created a Backup Project, do this now by clicking on the
       "New Project" button at the lower part of the window and type in a name for the
       Backup Project where prompted
    - Select one or more databases that you want to Backup (in the MySQL Admin
       client these are called a "Schema" (pl. "Schemata")). Add them to the Backup
       Content window on the right using the right-pointing arrow button

   -   When you have selected the Schema(ta), you can save the Backup Project. Or you
       may simply choose to Backup Now using the button on the lower right of the
   -   A dialogue will come up asking you where to put the Backup. Enter the pathname
       or browse to the location using the dialogue
   -   Assuming all is correct (and you have write permissions in the directory to which
       you're writing the Backup), the backup will complete shortly

Clearly the backup process has become a complex endeavor that requires a bit of hand
holding and management intervention. What’s more, those processes do nothing for the
underlying operating system, settings, user rights and so on. That makes restoration from
a disaster a complex and intimidating process. With Acronis True Image Server for
Linux, the process becomes a simple mouse click to backup all of the MySQL data and
all of the information on the server. As shown below:

The Create Image process brings up a second dialog screen, which allows backup
administrators to select drives and partitions to be included in the backup (or imaging
process). For those looking to fine tune the backup process, data and applications can be
divided up and stored on different partitions, a process that allows additional granularity
to be achieved.

Note: It is recommended that the database be suspended just before pressing the
Proceed button on the last page of the Acronis True Image 8.0 Server for Linux Create
Image Wizard. Once the imaging process starts, you can resume server operations. It is
not necessary to suspend the applications for the duration of the imaging process.

For example, all of the MySQL database files could be exclusively stored on the “hda10”
partition. That would allow the imaging process to only backup MySQL related
information and databases. That comes in handy when moving the data to an alternate
system, either as part of a hardware upgrade or to a “hot spare” system defined for
disaster recovery use.

Note: Automation of backup can be done using the Linux cron service. The following is
an example. System has /dev/sda1 as root(/) and /dev/sda2 mounted to
/backups directory. All database (mysql) data are located on root(/).

The first way is to do sequential actions - "stop mysql", do backup and "start
mysql". You may schedule a cron job to do this by the following record in
/var/spool/cron/root file:
       14 4 * * * /bin/bash -c "(/etc/init.d/mysqld
       stop;/usr/sbin/trueimagecmd --create --partition:1-1 -
       -filename:/backups/test.tib; /etc/init.d/mysqld
To decrease database downtime (because full image creation may take quite long time)
you can use a special /usr/lib/Acronis/tils_freeze_hook script. This script
will be called right after the file system is freezed. It receives frozen partition device as
first parameter. Starting database at this moment decreases downtime significantly but
still keeps database consistency. It may be done by
       14 4 * * * /bin/bash -c "(/etc/init.d/mysqld stop;
       /usr/sbin/trueimagecmd --create --partition:1-1 --
       record in /var/spool/cron/root file. Also you have to create
       /usr/lib/Acronis/tils_freeze_hook script with the following

                if [ "$1" == "/dev/sda1" ]; then
                (/etc/init.d/mysqld start > /dev/null 2>&1 &) &
It is important to start "mysqld start" in background mode because trueimagecmd
will wait until tils_freeze_hook finishes. Otherwise deadlock may occur.

   Worldwide sales of IT security and business-continuity products and services will
   surpass $150 billion by 2006. - IDC

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning

While no business wants to experience a disaster or loss of facilities, they still must
consider that a possibility. Regardless if the event is due to man-made or natural
disasters, businesses still need to protect their data. If disaster strikes, businesses that are
ready to perform bare-metal recoveries of their hardware and software are at a distinct
advantage. Imaging proves to be a key technology in that situation.

Traditional backup technologies fall short in many areas when it comes to business
continuity planning. File-based backup systems require administrators to regenerate the
operating environment (OS, Hardware, etc.) and go through a lengthy restore process. For
larger businesses, that can take several hours and the restored data is only as fresh as the
latest recoverable tape cartridge.

Imaging products, such as those from Acronis, offer a monumental step forward in the
disaster recovery process. Saved images can be restored to new hardware in a matter of
minutes with a simple process. Administrators boot off of rescue media (created by the
Acronis imaging product) and navigate to the storage device holding the image file and
then simply restore the image to the new hardware.

There are additional benefits offered by imaging in that scenario. First off, images are
usually stored to removable hard disk based media, which is many times faster than tape-
based restores. Secondly, images can be redirected or resized to meet any changes in
capacity caused by the transition to emergency hardware. Other benefits include the
ability to mount the image as a volume and access files directly through an explorer like
interface. This is a feature that proves to be both more intuitive and flexible than a file
catalog offered by a traditional backup stored on a tape drive. That flexibility allows an
organization to recover key documents or records quickly to continue operations while
waiting to restore a complete data set.

With disaster planning, one can not only consider restoration techniques, but must also
look at the base backup procedures. That is another area that Acronis’ imaging products
offer a distinct advantage over file-based backup systems. Acronis’ products support

incremental backups via snapshot technology. That capability allows the creation of
several backups during the working day, without interrupting any business processes. On
the other hand, file-based solutions are slow performers when it comes to incremental
backups and usually force the shutdown of database applications and force users to close
open files. That proves to be inefficient during business hours.

On the restoration side of the equation, Acronis’ imaging products automatically roll
incremental backups together into the base image file that greatly speeds restorations and
eliminated the hassles of swapping out various tapes that file-based backups require.

   Only 38 percent of businesses have any kind of business continuity plan in place
   to keep them operating in the event of disaster or disruption. Dynamic Markets Ltd.

Disaster Recovery – Best Practices

While data backup is only a single part of the disaster recovery process, it still proves to
be the most important element to successfully protect a business. It is a simple fact that
all of the planning in the world counts for nothing if there is no company information to

One of the leading causes of failing to optimally plan and execute a business continuity
process is the inherent complexity of existing backup solutions on the market. The file-
based backup systems available from the major vendors are commonly too wieldy or
cumbersome to manage. Add to that the requirement for tape rotations, incremental
backups, off-site storage and required training; it becomes very clear why a large
percentage of businesses fail to accomplish an effective backup and restoration plan.

This is an area where drive imaging helps to demystify and simplify the business
continuity planning process. By simply leveraging image-based backups and emergency
recovery media, a major portion of the disaster recovery plan can be reduced to a single
page consisting of just a few steps. What’s more, by leveraging the speed and efficiency
of image based incremental backups, remote backup storage becomes feasible for even
the smallest of businesses. After all, only the most recent data changes need to be moved
over the wire to a remote facility. That remote facility can be as simple as a shared hard
drive on a broadband connection or as complex as a leased, hardened data center.

There are several elements to an effective disaster recovery plan:

   -   Prioritize business processes: Define mission critical, business critical and
       operationally important processes and classify the impact of each process on
       business operations
   -   Determine business objectives: Define acceptable margins for recovery time,
       recovery points (acceptable data loss), and data loss events (type of failure)
   -   Account for data loss scenarios: Human error, data corruption, storage failure,
       network/server failure, malicious damage and loss of facility

   -   Define the backup and recovery process: Location of backups, frequency, backup
       types, backup device redundancy, key personnel and procedures

The combination of those elements will be used to create a disaster recovery plan, and
when one considers the inherent complexity of breaking each of those components down
into executable tasks, it becomes readily apparent how imaging products from Acronis
streamline the process.

Leading Causes of Data Loss (Ontrack Research)

Hardware or System Malfunctions (44 percent of all data loss)
  * Error message stating the device is not recognized
  * Previously accessible data suddenly gone
  * Scraping or rattling sound
  * Hard drive not spinning
  * Computer hard drive doesn't function

Human Error (32 percent of all data loss)
  * Previously accessible data suddenly gone
  * Message similar to "File Not Found"

Software Corruption (14 percent of all data loss)
  * System messages relating to memory errors
  * Software application won't load
  * Error message stating data is corrupted or inaccessible

Computer Viruses (7 percent of all data loss)
  * Strange and unpredictable behavior
  * Error message stating
  * "File Not Found" Message announcing virus appears on screen

Natural Disasters (3 percent of all data loss)
  * Fires
  * Floods
  * Brownouts
  * Severe Weather
  * Earthquakes

                     It is estimated that as much as 60% to 70% of storage
                     management effort is consumed by management of
                     backup and recovery alone. - StorageTek

The Acronis Advantage

The facts prove the case: Imaging is a vastly superior backup technology. The
shortcomings of file-based backup solutions are costing businesses countless dollars in
productivity, efficiency and reliability. Add to that the IT management burden, it
becomes clear that file based backup solutions are losing the ROI battle against imaging

With imaging defined as the leading technology, there is still one hurdle to overcome:
What imaging vendor should you select to protect your valuable data? The answer is
simple, Acronis. Acronis has been an industry leader in the backup imaging market for
several years. The company’s ability to identify requirements and come up with advanced
solutions is provided by the numerous awards and endorsements by the IT industry.

Few vendors have met the challenge of backing up Linux-based systems, and even fewer
can boast the ability to seamlessly backup open files and database servers like Acronis
True Image Server for Linux. By combining the power of imaging with the availability of
Linux and MySQL, Acronis has created a product that brings safety to the open source
market. No longer are open source solutions at risk for data loss and open source based
solutions can be included in the business continuity and disaster recovery planning and
execution process.

Acronis True Image Server for Linux offers several unique features not found in any
other backup solution:

   -   Fastest restoration time: Create and restore a system from an image of an entire
       hard drive. Creating and restoring a system from an image is faster than file-based
   -   Policy Management: Define policies for system and non-system files backup
   -   Incremental Backups: Create image of sectors that have changed since the last
   -   No re-installation: Backup image contains everything the system needs to run.
       The operating system, databases, configuration files, applications, etc. The system
       is restored from the image without requiring a lengthy reinstallation
   -   Ease of Use: Wizard-driven Graphical User Interface (GUI)
   -   Console Mode: IT staff can create scripts using the cron service
   -   Maximize Existing IT investment: Use existing storage devices for backup
   -   Acronis Secure Zone: Save backup image to a special partition, hidden from the
       operating system. This is ideal for businesses without a backup infrastructure
       because storage media is not required for backup
   -   No Reboot: The product can backup servers while they are running, letting
       business operations continue while ensuring that business can continue in the
       event of system failure

   The choice is clear: Acronis!

   Acronis True Image Server for Linux not only boasts a robust feature set, but also
   provides unprecedented compatibility for the Linux market. Software and device
   support is comprehensive, making the product an ideal platform for most any Linux
   based solution. Compatibility includes:

   -   Supports all major Linux operating systems and Linux kernels
   -   Supports current backup technologies: Direct Attached Storage (DAS),
       Redundant Arrays of Independent Disks (RAID), Network drives (SMB, NFS),
       USB and FireWire Storage Devices, CD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, DVD-RW,
       Removable Drives (Floppy, Zip, etc.)
   -   Clustering Support: Backup and restore redundant servers over the network.
   -   Supported Operating Systems : Red Hat 7.3, 8.0, 9.0/Advanced Server 2.1, 3.0,
       Fedora Core 1/Fedora Core 2, Advanced Server 3.0/Enterprise Server 3.0, SuSE
       8.0, 8.1, 8.2, 9.0, 9.1, Mandrake 8.0, 9.2, 10.0, 10.1, Slackware 10, Debian stable
       and unstable (sarge), Gentoo, UnitedLinux 1.0, Linux Kernels 2.4.x or 2.6.6

Considering the value of today’s corporate data and the increasing economy of disk-
based storage, imaging makes both protection and financial sense. Companies large and
small can benefit from the leading technology offered by Acronis and can rely on Acronis
True Image Server for Linux to effectively protect data, while sill being friendly to the
bottom line. That should be of special concern to companies needing to meet legislative
requirements set forth by HIPPA and Sarbanes-Oxley legalities. With Acronis, those
problems and others are quickly resolved, leaving a business with not only a
comprehensive backup solution, but also with all of the underpinnings needed to
effectively implement disaster recovery scenarios, while also offering IT technicians a
tool to assist in hardware migration and deployment testing.

Linux and Acronis: Everybody wins

While Linux and open source products such as MySql offer organizations significant
savings and an alternative to expensive commercial operating systems and database
servers, the true value can not be judged until a product such as Acronis True Image
Server for Linux is incorporated. For companies following the path of Linux, backed up
by Acronis, savings and reduced overhead will be quickly realized, making everyone
happy from the CFO down to the IT technician, all with out compromising ease of use
and without impacting the end user. A true win-win solution.


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