New Tool Promises More Bearable Backups

The AS/400 may have fairly robust backup and restore capabilities, but performing these tasks from a green-screen command-line terminal is not for the faint of heart. Systems administrators are required to memorize arcane command syntax, while interpreting what are sometimes very cryptic OS/400 system messages.

That's why RICOMM Systems Inc. (Marlton, N.J.) has put a PC-based GUI front end in front of this procedure, simplifying the process with point-and-click commands. The company has begun shipping a new version of its RTAPE/400 SBR (Smart Backup & Restore) software, which runs with IBM's Client Access or Client Access Express on an attached PC. "As the number of AS/400s grows, there's more users that are a little less IT inclined," says Anthony Lawry, technical partner with RICOMM. The software also parlays IBM's new thrust on putting more administrative functions on a Windows PC through Client Access, he adds.

With SBR, RICOMM seeks to ease such tasks as restoring libraries, members or objects. RICOMM claims the tool will save and store more than 9,999 files on a single tape volume, which conserves tape volume usage and streamlines tape handling. In addition, SBR includes a feature that allows users to back up and restore spool files, says Lawry.

RTAPE/400 SBR is designed to support all tape systems or DASD connected to the AS/400. In addition, the product will take advantage of IBM's Magstar 3590 tape subsystems, which have fast-file tracking capabilities, adds Mark August, senior systems architect with RICOMM. Support for this device enables SBR to take advantage of a high-speed search capability that reportedly can go directly to the file the customer wishes to restore, thus reducing tape-positioning time.

The tool also works in conjunction with network-based backup management tools, such as IBM's ADSTAR or ARCServe from Computer Associates International (Islandia, N.Y.). Plus, administrators in a PC-centric network environment now have a familiar interface for AS/400 backup management as well, Lawry points out.

RICOMM's SBR requires version 3.2 of Client Access or above, or Client Access Express. SBR is part of the vendor's RTAPE/400 offering, which also includes a tape management module.