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The new backup tools you can't live without

Using advanced backup management tools, IT execs can get a whole lot savvier about auditing, capacity planning, SLA compliance and more

By , Network World
May 21, 2007 12:03 AM ET

Network World - Monitoring backups always has been one of those unglamorous IT chores. Over the last several years, however, numerous vendors have taken backups from boring to remarkable as they roll out heterogeneous backup-management tools that perform so many new functions.

Spun off from the broader storage-resource management market, these tools monitor and report on backups across multiple vendors' backup products. In doing so, they can ease the auditing process. They create a way to implement chargeback programs for backups. They let network executives offer and verify service-level agreements for backups, and more.

Heterogeneous backup-management tools are available from various niche vendors including Aptare, Bocada, CommVault and WysDM Software, as well as such infrastructure vendors as EMC and Symantec. An enterprise might be running EMC's Legato Networker, IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager and Symantec's Veritas Backup Exec, but with backup-management software, an IT administrator can get an at-a-glance, big-picture look at what's happened with all those operations from a single console, in real time and historically.

Some vendors take a traditional client/server approach to backup management. An example is EMC's Backup Advisor, in which agents sit on production servers and backup hosts feed system information into the backup-management server residing on the network. More typical is the agentless approach, favored by Bocada, WysDM and others, in which backup-management software gathers statistics through scheduled polling.

These tools are getting ever more sophisticated. In February, start-up Illuminator released Virtual Recovery Engine (VRE), which coordinates reporting of backup applications and other data-protection technologies. In addition, the software associates that information with the application data, so IT executives get an easy view of the backups connected to every data set, says Yishay Yovel, a vice president with the vendor (see screenshot). The initial release provides interfaces to storage arrays and point-in-time copying, replication and backup applications from EMC and Network Appliance.

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