EMC Aids Time Travellers

The most daunting aspect of the Year 2000 testing process is shutting down testing systems for data updates from the production system. That's why EMC Corp. (Hopkinton, Mass.) is offering its TimeFinder software -- running on its Symmetrix disk arrays -- as a way to manage this process.

That's the tools and strategy now being undertaken by online travel powerhouse Galileo International (Chicago), now testing its Year 2000 compliance on its RS/6000 and other Unix servers using TimeFinder. When companies such as Galileo refresh their test databases, the entire process can take their test systems down for as long as 24 to 36 hours. Galileo is using TimeFinder to create a point-in-time copy of its multi-terabyte test reservation database. This process has eliminated disruptions to developer testing, reports Paul Quade, director of data center planning and engineering for Galileo.

"Because of high transaction volumes and the competitive nature of our business, Galileo International is always pushing the envelope with regard to performance," Quade says. "Our TPF environment, which is very complex, requires extremely high performance and 24 X 7 uptime. The Apollo and Galileo reservation systems process 5,000 transactions per second."

EMC launched TimeFinder software earlier this year as a Year 2000 testing solution to create a testbed on its Symmetrix storage systems. It allows system and storage administrators to create, in background mode, mirrored data images for information storage. "By nature, test environments are iterative and destructive," says Jim Ogorchock, Year 2000 solutions manager for Year 2000 at EMC. "You try something over and over, and when you try it, you might blow something away." TimeFinder only refreshes data that was actually affected, rather than an entire database.

"When can use the separated mirror as the target for your Year 2000 testing," says Ogorchock. "Your team can work with a full set of real live production data. Then you can have multiple teams working on the Year 2000 problem at once, during prime time." That's the only way to pick up time for Year 2000 -- to do more than one thing at once."