SD2003: Rate the backup vendors panel

According to Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst of the Enterprise Storage Group, the whole point to performing data backups is the ability to recover. Otherwise, it's just an academic exercise.

Duplessie shared these views recently as the moderator of a user panel at Storage Decisions 2003 that rated the performance of key backup vendors. The goal of the panel was to describe some of the challenges users experience with their backups today, and how vendors may be helping (or harming) the process.

(Vendors take heed, your customers aren't happy.)

"We settle for mediocrity because we really don't push the vendors to give us what we want. We take what they give us because it solves what we need it to at the time," said Jeff Caldwell, one of the panelists and the director of storage and planning at the Chicago Board of Options Exchange.

Caldwell added that there are obvious challenges with this approach. When he runs into a backup problem, for instance, his backup vendor, Veritas, takes three to four days to fix the issue. This response goes against the instant-resolution requirements of his business.

Another panelist, Sanjay Mandloi, vice president of J.P. Morgan Chase's LabMorgan technology division, said his goal is to speed his backup window, but vendors aren't interested in making it happen. "I don't think traditional software vendors care [about] trying to find a solution to increase backups."

Some pot-shots were taken at Veritas,

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Tivoli and the rest of the usual backup suspects, including the question expressed by some users about whether Veritas has "any service personnel."

Duplessie interjected during the session that many of the users' common backup concerns he hears don't always equate to weaknesses in backup technology or vendor products.

"Backup and recovery is by-and-large about process rather than technology," he said. "Sometimes it's difficult to look at yourself in the mirror and evaluate the processes you may have had in place for years."

What other sound backup advice did panelists have to offer? Here are a few highlights:

  1. There's still no cure for media going bad after it sits on a musty shelf.
  2. In the words of one panelist, "If you can standardize on one tape format, you can save tons of cash."

Other links to the full session proceedings are available here.

This was first published in September 2003

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