Migration Weekend

The big data migration is upon me!

This weekend we will be migrating about 3TB of data from aging 5 year old servers with internal DAS RAID over to the new infrastructure I’ve been building over the last two months. Part of my genius plan is to migrate the data using our backup & restore software. The genius I believe comes from the fact that doing the migration via tape restore will provide a long overdue full test of our capability to restore in the event of catastrophic storage failure. Data migration and restore testing, two birds with one stone.

Wish me luck!

Time Navigator HA Cluster Agent Configuration

I’ve been wanting to post about a configuration that allows for seamless file-level backup of storage attached to an active/passive high availability cluster in an uninterrupted fashion using Atempo’s Time Navigator and I’m finally going to do it.

The Problem

The initial difficulty lies in the requirement that the data must be consistently backed up at every interval, no matter which cluster node is currently the active node with the backend storage mounted. To do this, an agent is required to be configured as a cluster resource in order to “follow” the mounting/exporting of the storage to any cluster node. So in order to accomplish this,  N + 1 tina agents are required. That is, if you have two cluster nodes, you need three agents to successfully backup each node with the local agent and the storage, as it floats about the cluster nodes depending on failure or migration events.

Luckily for me, the good people at Atempo have engineered the agent in such a way that multiple agents can be ran on a single node, each binding to it’s own IP address and each individually controlled via it’s own init script. Of course, we need to make some file edits to make all this happen and that’s what I’m going share!

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Atempo Time Navigator 4.2 Archive Media Selection Tunable

Just a quick post here to share a non-obvious tunable for Atempo’s Time Navigator 4.2 regarding archiving and media selection.

Before upgrading from 4.1 to 4.2 Time Navigator’s media selection for archive jobs with standalone drives behaved as expected: If existing partly filled and open cartridges in the associated media pool existed, Time Navigator would request those media be placed in the drives upon the start a new archive operation, effectively only asking for new, unlabeled media to be inserted once the existing media was full.

However, with the upgrade to 4.2 we found that Time Navigator was no longer requesting the existing, partly filled, open cartridges and was instead requesting new, unlabeled media to be inserted into the drives instead! The result of this new behavior was that Time Navigator would use new tapes for every new archive operation, no matter if existing, partly filled and open media was available in the media pool. Basically 4.2’s default behavior was preventing us from filling any archive media unless the particular archive job would happen to be larger than a single tape.

While I don’t know why the functionality changed, I do know what tunable to modify in order to make 4.2 behave like 4.1. The tunable is “check_external_cart_when_recycling“. Setting this tunable to “Yes” has restored the 4.1 behavior, allowing us to make full use of all archive media capacity by only requesting new media when all the existing media in the media pool has been filled.

I believe we only faced this problem because we use standalone archive tape drives that do not have an autoloader or robot nor an “inventory” of online tape. Each tape must be manually loaded. I suspect that if we had an autoloader for our tape drives, that 4.2 would have made the correct/expected selection of media.

I doubt that anyone else is going to face this problem but it took about 3 weeks with Atempo’s R&D department to figure out the problem so I figure if posting here can save anyone that amount of time, then I’ll have done my part!