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Microsoft gets serious about storage with Data Protection Manager

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Waiting for Windows DPM
ESG believes Microsoft will inevitably become part of the data protection infrastructure over time. This implementation activity will likely start in the small- and medium-sized business market where Windows is the dominant OS, and then migrate up market from there.

Smart users will recognize this predictable evolution and plan accordingly by doing the following:

  • Considering short- and long-term Windows backup needs. Because corporate Windows servers are backed up to tape, storage managers should start by assessing their backup needs across the board. Which servers have the shortest backup windows? Would the business be better protected if any of these systems were backed up more frequently than once per day? Would online restore be especially beneficial for particular users and files? Start with data center-resident Windows servers and work your way out to the edge and then out over the WAN to remote offices.

One last thing: Don't forget to think about desktop backup. Few companies back up PCs and laptops, yet these systems often contain business-critical or confidential data. Over time, DPM may be a viable solution to this perpetual problem.

  • Integrating DPM into existing backup processes and technologies. It's a safe bet that Microsoft won't support Unix, Linux or any other operating environment

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  • in DPM--so you won't be throwing out your Legato, Tivoli or Veritas tools any time soon. Instead, these enterprise-class systems will likely provide backup services to DPM servers. Storage professionals must design a backup architecture that protects the DPM systems, fits into disaster recovery plans and doesn't saturate the network with backup traffic during business hours. Smart storage managers will work with their primary data protection vendors to follow their DPM support roadmaps, while ensuring that Windows storage management adheres to broader operations and risk management processes.
  • Introducing the storage team to Active Directory. DPM will be distributed, registered and administered through a combination of its own management console and Active Directory--a piece of infrastructure storage professionals generally know little about. They won't need to become MCSEs, but they do need a basic understanding of Active Directory as it relates to DPM configuration, policy management and data protection. Plan on sending storage professionals out for training or scheduling time with your in-house Windows administration staff for some knowledge transfer sessions.
  • Becoming experts on Windows security. Users are universally spooked by Windows security as the platform is a frequent target of the black hat community. ESG believes this reality shouldn't deter the use of DPM; rather, organizations (and storage professionals) should become familiar with Windows security best practices to gain DPM benefits while minimizing risks. This means deploying secure Windows configurations using reference models from Microsoft or security organizations like the SANS Institute, monitoring Microsoft vulnerabilities, following attack vectors "in the wild," and developing prudent and effective patching practices.

The bottom line
Only a fool would dismiss Microsoft as a non-factor in any software play, and DPM is no exception. ESG believes companies will deploy DPM liberally as they move to disk-based backup, and as DPM progresses and supports SQL Server and Exchange. Storage executives should begin their upfront planning accordingly--no later than the beginning of 2006. This will help ease the transition process and accelerate ROI. 2

Jon Oltsik is a senior analyst and storage industry veteran at the Enterprise Strategy Group, focused on information security.

This was first published in September 2005

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