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Tek-Tools Profiler provides a backup summary of servers.

Product differentiators
When you move beyond the basics of backup reporting, not all of these products provide specialized reporting. While some report criteria may seem arcane, if it's relevant to your backup environment, it may become a determining factor in what backup reporting tool you ultimately select. For example, not all backup reporting programs provide information related to:

  • Disappearing clients
  • Backup orphans
  • Most unreliable clients
  • Slowest clients
  • Why backups are failing
  • Chargeback and SLA compliance

Slices represent different client platforms: Unix, Windows 2k, and Windows 2k Pro.

Among its many backup reports, Tavata's Enterprise Storage Manager (TESM)

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can show details of tape drive usage. This graph, a report for Veritas NetBackup, shows usage statistics for a number of tape drives over a period of a year.

One common problem with most backup applications is that if you disable a client, it doesn't show up as an error. Disappearing clients are a big problem, especially when they're accidentally disabled. Or perhaps a client was disabled on purpose, and then was never re-enabled. Some backup reporting products would help expose this situation by showing the condition as an error; alternatively, for an intentionally disabled client, you can tell the reporting application to ignore it.

As opposed to a disappearing client, a backup orphan is a system that isn't being backed up by any system. Backup reporting products watch all of your backup servers and backup products so that they know what's being backed up. But some go further and can scan your entire network to find servers whose host names don't appear to be listed in your backup system. This is an extremely useful feature that hopefully will be expanded to include file systems or databases that aren't being backed up.

This Legato NetWorker report displays the amount of data, number of files and number of save sets for a selection of groups.

The most unreliable clients follow Murphy's Law for backups: The odds of your needing to restore a given client are inversely proportional to the success rate of its backups. The more unsuccessful a client is, the higher the likelihood that you'll need to restore it.

While all backup reporting tools will tell you that backups are failing, SysDM Inc.'s WysDM can also tell you why it's failing. It collects environmental data such as file system sizes, memory and process lists, system messages and so forth. You can easily drill down and see all of the elements of your environment that might have contributed to that failure.

SysDM's WysDM for Backups provides status information for every device being backed up in the enterprise. Success and failure comments are highlighted and color-coded in green and red.

Utility computing is gaining traction as IT departments try to pass the cost of computing back to the users of that service. (See "Storage on demand.") One of the best ways to do that is through chargeback. If you want to charge per gigabyte, per backup or per restore, a few products--such as Bocada's BackupReport and StorageTek's Global Storage Manager--create chargeback reports based on your criteria. And if you've defined an SLA for your backup and recovery system, these reports will tell you how close you're getting to meeting that SLA. It can be used as a success report for management, or as supporting evidence for the purchase of additional hardware.

BackupReport from Bocada shows total system utilization, including, in this example, an understanding of actual drive utilization over the course of a day, highlighting underutilization across 20 drives.

This was first published in July 2004

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