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The Dice Project

Operational Meeting

Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 26th November 2014 in IF-4.31

Lindsey Brown, Neil Brown, Chris Cooke, Ian Durkacz, Graham Dutton, Stephen Quinney, Iain Rae, George Ross (convener and minutes), Alastair Scobie, Craig Strachan
  1. Minutes of the last meeting

    These were accepted.

  2. Actions and blog articles

    Actions discussed:

    Actions added:

    Actions completed:

    Blog articles completed:

  3. Report from Computing Executive Group

    Alastair gave a verbal report on CCPAG:

    Alastair, Ian and Sam had also been at an IPv6 meeting recently. Alastair commented that it's something we should be ramping up. There'll be a lot of thought and learning required.

  4. Reports from units

  5. Topics for discussion

    1. Should we still be backing up date to tape?
      • Craig tabled a discussion paper.
      • It costs around £10k/year to run our tape library.
      • Current arrangements are that most AFS volumes are mirrored mightly to KB, as a DR measure. These are then incrementally backed up to tape. Roughly every 6 months a synthetic "full" backup to take is done. Tapes are then retained for 13 months, as this appeared to fit in well with support requests.
      • A new tape library would likely use LT06 tapes, which can store around 2.5TB raw, or maybe 4TB compressed. We would expect to be able to read our old tapes, but not be able to write to them again.
      • Ideally we wouldn't have the tape library at KB, as it's less convenient for Support as well as being beside the mirror servers. OTOH it's not obvious that AT would be better. For more thought.
      • One advantage of tapes is that it is possible to pull some from the tape library to put in the firesafe.
      • One useful feature of tape backups is that it's possible to get a historical view of the data, to see what has changed and when. This could be useful under some failure modes, for example.
      • If we did go to disc backups instead we would be looking at something like 400+ spindles. We might expect around one failure per week, with corresponding maintenance effort. There would also be power and space issues.
      • We might be able to reduce the retention period to reduce costs, though whether by a useful amount would require detailed calculations.
      • We currently have 6 tape drives. If we had fewer we might not be able to get through a day's backup cycle in a day.
      • We need a document setting out the options and the pros and cons of each, with recommendations. There may then need to be a School-wide discussion before a decision is taken somewhere.
      • Craig will rework his document in the light of the discussion, and then take it back to CEG in the first instance.
    2. Should we use the server-room key-lock more?

      After some discussion of the issues it was concluded that a reasonable compromise would be for anyone leaving the server room on Thursday mornings to lock the door with the key. At other times the swipe lock should suffice through the working day. The key lock will normally be used outside working hours in any case.

      [Post-meeting comment: Ian has put up a reminder notice to this effect.]

  6. Items for the Computing Systems blog
  7. AOCB

  8. Next meeting

    The next meeting will be on 10th December 2014 at 10:00, in IF-4.31

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