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Tools to fine-tune your backups

Ezine

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Cross-domain reporting. Being able to report beyond the backup app and include all of the elements the B/R process depends on, including servers, network, switches and libraries, is crucial for performance analysis and troubleshooting. "When backups run slow or fail, it's essential to be able to look beyond the tape drive and backup software," says Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO Group, a technology analyst and consulting firm in Stillwater, MN.

Vendors have taken two approaches to reach beyond the backup app. Products from Aptare, Bocada, Servergraph Inc. and WysDM report on the full data path within a single application. Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. (with its HP Storage Essentials Backup Manager) and Tek-Tools (BackupProfiler) defer to other modules or products to get to related information. As a component of a larger storage resource management (SRM) application, HP Storage Essentials Backup Manager may require the licensing of additional SRM modules to get all of the relevant information. Tek-Tools defers to other tools within the Tek-Tools Profiler family, such as AppProfiler, ServerProfiler and StorageProfiler, to report on infrastructure components not directly related to the backup application.

Predictive analysis. DPRM tools are changing from backward-looking instruments that help users understand past backups into forward-looking tools that foresee backup needs and problems, such as storage consumption, media storage

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availability and anomaly detection. All of the DPRM tools we looked at have some predictive analysis capabilities in the form of trending reports. "StorageConsole uses its predictive analysis engine to determine the 'backup heartbeat' for any given environment, and reports and alerts on abnormalities or early hot spots," says Rick Clark, Aptare's CEO. Similarly, WysDM for Backups' Predictive Analysis Engine runs 24/7 to check the backup environment and identify anomalies.

Policy enforcement and real-time alerting. Similar to predictive analysis, alerts are triggered if a policy violation is detected. For instance, you may have a policy to be notified if a server doesn't back up within its backup window for two nights in a row. WysDM leverages its Predictive Analysis Engine to define and enforce policies. "You can configure rules to enforce policies required for compliance," says Alan Atkinson, WysDM's CEO. In a similar manner, Servergraph Data Protection Expert provides a rules engine through its prediction module, while Aptare StorageConsole supports policy-based, real-time monitoring based on exception thresholds across backup domains. "Over time, we will see more focus on real-time behavior and event correlation," predicts StorageIO Group's Schulz.


Click here for a DRM Product Matrix (PDF).

This was first published in July 2007

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