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Backup, Replication Next on Automation Agenda

Why the sudden fuss over provisioning?

These days, we hear a lot about software that automatically provisions storage, i.e., detects when an application--usually a database--is about to run out of space, and assigns additional space to it.

Why the sudden fuss over provisioning? "Because that's where customers experience their pain today," says Mike Jones, director of product management for BMC's enterprise storage management group, that recently announced Patrol Storage Automation-Provisioning, which it developed with Invio Software.

"Customers tell us that it can take three to five days to provision an Oracle table space that is getting full," says Jones. "The bigger the company, the more departments are involved and the longer it can take to get all the signatures." "Unfortunately," says Jones, "we haven't been able to automate getting a signature."

But provisioning, it turns out, is just one of the storage management tasks storage vendors are hoping to automate. Other likely candidates for automation are backup or replication management.

The need for backup and replication automation is obvious, says Tad Lebeck, CTO, Invio. "Today, backup windows have disappeared, and the price of disk has made it reasonable to do disk-to-disk backup. The problem, however, is there's no management."

Furthermore, "the coordination, scheduling and planning of backups is very difficult," says Scott Kennedy, vice president for business development at Fujitsu Softek. For example, taking a snapshot and pushing it to tape can take many steps, including selecting disks, quiescing applications, invoking the snapshot, breaking the mirrored set, releasing the applications, invoking backup software and cleaning up.

"There's a lot of checking, pushing, poking and talking to things involved," which, taken together, can "just make you want to tear your hair out," says Kennedy.

Fujitsu Softek recently announced its Windowless Backup and Recovery Solution, which it will begin shipping this spring, and will form the basis for future backup and replication automation services sometime next year. BMC and Invio are working on data availability and replication services for the first and second halves of 2003, respectively.

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