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DPM software: Makeover or coverup?

Arun Taneja and I have focused on the topic of data protection management (DPM) in recent posts. He sees what I also see – DPM software is undergoing a significant transition in purpose. While DPM software is not new and companies like APTARE, AGITE Software, Bocada, Tek-Tools, ServerGraph and others have offered it for years, only now are vendors and customers figuring out how to use in a larger context within organizations.

Companies tend to only think of and use DPM software in a singular context – day-to-day operations. For the most part, this software does a good job of monitoring and reporting on the successes and failures of backup jobs, the identification of failed tape drives and the utilization of media in tape libraries. However, this did not raise DPM software’s value proposition much beyond the purview of the day-to-day operations staff.

Now, some DPM vendors are reworking their messaging to make their products more appealing to a larger corporate audience – with capacity planners and storage architects their primary focus. Part of the motivation for this change is that more companies want to bring disk into their backup scheme. But, these organizations lack information on their current backup environment to confidently make these types of changes to their infrastructure.

For many companies, it’s a roll of the dice as to how well a new disk library will work in their environment. I have spoken to more than one user who purchased a disk library with high amounts of disk capacity only to find out the controllers on the disk library could not keep pace with the amount of data backup software fed to it. This required them to purchase additional disk libraries which created new seta of management problems.

DPM software can help to address these types of sizing issues by quantifying how well current backup resources are being used and trend their use over time. This allows companies to select and implement appropriately sized disk libraries based on facts, not assumptions. It may also give them the facts they need to justify waiting on a disk purchase, since they may identify better ways to utilize their existing tape assets.

Performing trending and capacity planning is very different than sending out an alarm that a tape drive or a backup job has failed. Companies need to be sure that vendors are actually delivering a product makeover regarding reporting and analysis capabilities and not simply covering up their product’s deficiencies with its latest rendition of marketing literature.

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