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Don't get stuck with old backup ideas: Best Practices

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Products evolve with service features
Establishing consistent data management and recovery policies and ensuring they're adhered to is becoming increasingly important. While leveraging disk technology can lead to improved data recovery service levels, a complementary management capability is also required. The leading enterprise backup apps have all been able to evolve beyond traditional backup.

Veritas NetBackup (with Version 6.5 and beyond) is becoming well-positioned as a multifaceted data recovery manager. Support for a wide range of snapshot technologies, and its OpenStorage API for integration of intelligent disk functionality, bode well for the future. Also adding to its versatility is software-based deduplication through the PureDisk option and support for the recently announced CDP-based RealTime Protection.

A key enhancement on the management side is the notion of Storage Lifecycle Policies that enable automated business-oriented management of the multiple copies of data that might exist in various forms. For example, it's possible to establish a policy that snapshots a file and then copies it to a deduplicated storage device and an offsite tape, each with a different retention time. The data movement and subsequent expiration is fully automated; in its latest incarnation, Storage Lifecycle Policies support a variety of snapshot technologies as well as CDP.

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IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) can be considered the "granddaddy" of commercial disk-based backup products, as it was originally designed to support the hierarchical movement of storage across various media. TSM supports a wide range of disk functionality like snapshots within the IBM portfolio, as well as selected third-party support. With regard to management functionality, as a member of the Tivoli management portfolio, it offers a number of enhancements through related products (like Tivoli Storage Process Manager) to provide ITIL-based operational processes.

EMC has been extremely active in the data recovery realm with the acquisition of a range of companies dealing with backup, CDP and data deduplication. NetWorker has become an integration focal point for these and other technologies. The result is a rich set of support for snapshot technologies through a variety of PowerSnap modules, as well as support for EMC's Avamar deduplication backup product and RecoverPoint CDP offering. A dashboard management console lets users view and drill down through many of these components.

Looking beyond the three giants, one relative newcomer, CommVault, has managed to make inroads in enterprise data recovery. Taking advantage of not having to support the historic product legacy of its competition, its design focus has been on multifaceted data management and recovery; its Simpana suite integrates backup, archiving and snapshot, as well as keyword search and retrieval within a common management framework.

As more disk-based recovery alternatives are adopted, the coordinated management of multisource recovery will continue to increase in importance. A logical place to look for this to coalesce is within the backup application. It's important for organizations to understand their vendor's strength and direction in this area. The time has come to shed the traditional, compartmentalized view of backup and embrace a recovery-centric data management focus. To do otherwise would mean standing still.


This was first published in September 2008

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