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“VTL” does not mean “PNP”

If you think data protection management (DPM) tools that monitor and report on backup successes and failures are going to disappear with the introduction of virtual tape libraries (VTLs), think again.

It is easy to view DPM tools only in the context of an all-tape environment, since that is where the source of most backup troubles are and most of their value is derived. However, this can lead one to mistakenly assume that by bringing in a VTL, one can eliminate both the more vexing problems associated with backups and the need for DPM software. Unfortunately, VTLs create their own unique sets of problems that require users to keep DPM software available to help them identify and report on these issues.

This was made abundantly clear to me in a case study that Agite Software recently shared with me, in which a company had installed and tested Agite Software’s backupVISUAL DPM software. This company used it to monitor their backup environment. They had recently begun to use a Sepaton VTL and wanted to document to what degree the backup situation had improved since they switched from tape to disk. Much to everyone’s surprise, backups to the Sepaton VTL were still failing 30% of the time.

But, this was neither a Sepaton nor a backup software problem, per se. It was an oversight on the part of the administrators. The company decommissioned the tape drives that the servers were previously using as their backup target, and the servers had nowhere to direct the backup job, causing the subsequent backup jobs to fail.

While this is obviously an extreme case (and I am sure one that Agite Software brought to my attention to demonstrate the value of their product), it does illustrate that there is always more to consider when purchasing any new product than just plugging it in and letting it rip.

In today’s environments, where everything is so interconnected and interdependent, no one should believe any vendor’s claim that their product is “Plug’N’Play”. And even if everything appears to work fine on the surface, rest assured that any level of examination will almost always unveil some blatant gaps in service and performance.

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