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Tools to fine-tune your backups

Ezine

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Support for heterogeneous products. DPRM tools vary in the number of backup apps and disk arrays they support (see "DPRM products matrix"). While Bocada Inc., Tek-Tools Inc. and WysDM have the largest backup application

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support, Illuminator Inc. currently supports only Symantec Veritas NetBackup, mostly as a result of Illuminator's reporting focus on replication and snapshots.

DPRM vs. SRM

Storage resource management (SRM) applications haven't lived up to their promise from the late 1990s, namely to be a single tool that manages all storage and backup assets. There are several reasons for this: SRM applications are expensive, complex and a lack of standards limits their capabilities. Element managers and specialized programs, such as data protection and recovery management (DPRM) tools that are good in one area, have done well because they're simpler, less expensive and typically outperform comparable features of SRM applications.

SRM applications are monoliths, with a single vendor implementing all features. However, monolithic application designs are no longer state of the art and are challenged by service-oriented architectures (SOAs) where loosely coupled applications form a larger application framework. "The new trend is to have best-of-breed tools that work together based on an SOA-type architecture," says Nancy Hurley, VP of marketing and business development at Bocada Inc.

SOAs and orchestrating best-of-breed tools aren't without their challenges. "The more tools are pulled together, the more important comprehensive monitoring becomes because it's really easy to lose control," says Stewart Buchanan, the Egham, U.K-based research director for Gartner's IT Procurement and Asset Management Group. However, DPRM tool vendors firmly believe that loosely coupled specialized tools are the future. For example:
The BalancePoint Suite from Akorri Inc. focuses on cross-domain management of IT assets, including storage assets, from a performance perspective. BalancePoint Suite performs both end-to-end performance monitoring and historical performance analysis.

RecoverGuard from Continuity Software Inc. monitors and reports on disk-to-disk data protection using a signature-based approach to ensure that replication and snapshots complete successfully. Unlike Illuminator Inc., Continuity Software is focused on the disaster recovery market rather than the DPRM market.

SANscreen from Onaro Inc. concentrates on change management, change impact analysis and alerting of changes to the storage infrastructure. For instance, if six volumes are replicated from location A to backup location B, and someone adds a seventh volume but doesn't set up the replication, SANscreen would discover the change and alert on the missing replica. Recently, Onaro unveiled SANscreen Application Insight 2.0, which combines storage infrastructure utilization data with application path awareness. With SANscreen Application Insight, infrastructure teams can chart performance over time to see where bottlenecks exist.

This was first published in July 2007

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