The Advantages of Using SQL Safe Backup with TSM

Backing up the SQL databases for which they are responsible is one of the most important functions of a DBA. While streamlining performance might be a more interesting facet of database administration, failure to have a valid backup when required will get you the kind of attention that you don’t need. Like a special invitation to discuss new career options with your manager. Indeed, the importance of having good backups cannot be overstated.

As a DBA, you were probably not involved in the decision over which enterprise backup tool is used at your company. You need to work within the constraints posed by the organization’s data management solution. One such solution that you may be faced with navigating is IBM’s Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM). It’s a full-featured backup and recovery application that protects databases as well as the other digital assets of a company’s computing environment.

TSM was recently rebranded as IBM Spectrum Protect. The functionality of Spectrum Protect is the same as that of TSM, and most of the collected documentation regarding usage of the product still refers to it as TSM. For that reason, we will talk about TSM in this post, as the information is pertinent to the tool under whichever name it is used.

How TSM Works With SQL Databases

Backing up an SQL database to TSM requires a TSM backup client to be installed on the database server. This application communicates with the TSM server and facilitates the actual backup process. Option files determine various aspects of the backup including directing the data to specific constructs within TSM that control its storage and retention.

TSM employs a multi-tiered data management framework that is suitable for large installations which require the ability to backup data for short and long-term storage. The general architecture of TSM employs a set of storage pools which contain the backups of your system’s data. Where possible, disks are used as the primary storage pool to provide faster backup performance. Data is then migrated from the disk pool to a tape library for long-term storage. These tapes are often copied to create an offsite set that can be used for disaster recovery purposes.

Large databases may be backed up directly to tape based on the capacity of the disk storage pools. Correctly scheduling the backups is required to enable the allocation of the necessary TSM resources to successfully complete the operation. The DBA team needs to work with the TSM administrators to develop a backup window that ensures the backups run successfully. In cases where resources are scarce, there may be limitations on the number of database backups that can be run concurrently. Some considerations to take when developing retention policies and backup schedules are:

  • Business requirements - Production and test databases can be assigned different retentions based on the needs of the organization. Little-used test systems may only need to be backed up sporadically. Mission-critical production databases might require multiple daily backups.
  • Physical resources - The number of available tape drives can have a major impact when scheduling backups and may necessitate less frequent backups of non-critical systems.
  • Regulatory requirements - Due to the more stringent regulatory landscape, it may be necessary to retain some copies of backups long after their usefulness in a recovery scenario has been exceeded.

SQL Safe Backup Works Directly With TSM

SQL Safe Backup offers enhanced operability for a DBA working in a TSM backup environment. The application enables you to interact directly with the TSM server in a number of ways that will help secure the data and allow you additional control concerning how and when it is backed up. Some of the features that this excellent backup solution affords are the ability to:

  • Perform compression and encryption prior to sending the data to the TSM server. This saves resources by minimizing the size of the backup and securely protects the data.

  • Create backup policies and schedules that conform to how your data is used and needs to be protected. Kickoff manual backups directly to the TSM server without the need to involve the TSM staff.

  • Use the dashboard to receive alerts and identify backup issues. Create reports to track backup performance.

Using the tool requires the installation of the SQL Safe Backup agent on the database server. A web-based dashboard is used to register and interact with the agent, making it easy to observe all of your database backup policies and schedules from a single interface. SQL Safe Backup will enable any DBA to be more confident that the data they are responsible for is fully protected.