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EMC adds replication support to Data Protection Advisor

Expanded Data Protection Manager goes beyond backup reporting with support for EMC's replication applications, as well as handling data deduplication and integrating with VMware's vCenter.

EMC Corp. is upgrading its data protection management application to include monitoring and reporting on its replication applications as well as adding support for data deduplication and VMware.

EMC Data Protection Advisor (DPA) 5.5 now supports data replication applications for EMC Symmetrix and Clariion storage systems as well as EMC RecoverPoint network-based replication. EMC also extended VMware support by integrating DPA with vCenter Server; added centralized reports for deduplication ratios for Data Domain, Avamar and NetWorker backup products; and expanded monitoring, alerting and reporting for Celerra network-attached storage (NAS) systems.

It is the second update of the product since EMC acquired WysDM in 2008. In November 2008, EMC changed the name of the product from Backup Advisor to Data Protection Advisor and began to support VMware and Celerra.

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Filling gaps in replication

Data Protection Advisor now works with Symmetrix-based SRDF and TimeFinder, and Clariion-based MirrorView and SnapView replication applications. DPA's correlation engine generates a visual map of the replication environment, showing problems such as where a copy wasn't fully created or when a replica fails to conform to service-level agreements (SLAs).

"Without DPA, the replication software reports if a replica is created but you don't know if you can recover from that," said Ken McDonald, EMC's director of storage software product marketing. "DPA shows you what's working and where the problems are."

DPA also now reports on the recoverability of replicated data on any array using RecoverPoint. It also supports chargeback for RecoverPoint.

Data protection reporting's evolution

The DPA application has changed a great deal since EMC first began selling Backup Advisor in 2005 through an OEM deal with WysDM. WysDM and competitors Aptare Inc., Bocada Inc. and Tek-Tools Inc. sprung up to fill a gap in backup reporting left by backup software applications. These products were called data protection managers (DPMs) by vendors and analysts.

Analysts say an expansion of DPA's features was necessary for it to be a true data protection application.

"Now the product more or less lives up to its name," Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Lauren Whitehouse said. "It was called Backup Advisor and transitioned to data protection management, and support for replication is more all-encompassing as data protection goes."

"When they first took on WysDM as a partner, it was clear that it could become the foundation for a much larger product," Taneja Group analyst Arun Taneja said. "It has a discovery unit, an analytics engine, a correlation engine, and a repository where all the data is kept. If you have those baseline engines, why stop at backup?"

Competitive products have also expanded capabilities to go beyond merely reporting on whether backups succeeded or failed. Aptare added a Replication Manager for NetApp replication applications and Virtualization Manager for VMware earlier this year, and Tek-Tools has increased VMware support. Meanwhile, data backup applications such as CA ARCserve, CommVault Simpana, EMC NetWorker, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and Symantec Corp. Veritas NetBackup have added reporting capabilities.

"The earliest DPMs were nothing more than reporters," Taneja said. "They would grab information and come up with charts. One of the key missing pieces was the correlation engine – that lets you not only gather information but to do something with it."

"Many of these [data protection management] products have been going through a metamorphosis, not only reporting on backup events but reporting on capacity management so when you hit capacity thresholds you're not caught with your pants down," Whitehouse added.

DPA pricing starts at $3,000 for 20 clients with replication licensed separately based on platform and configuration – for example, replication pricing for Symmetrix starts at $346 per terabyte.

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