Get 100 percent backup performance

Meredith B. Derby, assistant news editor

Unsuccessful backups plague enterprises about 20% of the time, said Liam Scanlan, vice president of product strategy for the storage software company Bocada, Inc. That may seem a small amount, but few businesses can afford the labor costs of repeating enterprise data replications even 20% of the time. SearchWindowsManageability spoke to Bocada's CEO Mark Silverman to find out what can be done to ensure 100%

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backup performance. The Bellevue, WA-based company recently announced its backup monitoring tool, BackupReport, which starts at $5,500.

sWM: In light of recent events in New York City, many companies are renewing their concerns about successful disaster recovery. Do you have any tips for disaster recovery?

The cornerstone of disaster recovery is backup. If data is not backed up, it simply can't be recovered. Since backups often fail, you need to understand which have failed and why they've failed. Otherwise, you can't know how much of your data at any point in time is going to be recoverable until after the disaster has occurred, which is too late. Any disaster recovery plan would be fatally flawed if it didn't include daily evaluation of the reliability and efficiency of the backup systems. Take as much corrective action as quickly as possible to fix those problems so you can increase the reliability of your systems, which will increase recovery success.

sWM: Generally speaking, why do backups fail?

The reason backups are failing has to do with the complexity and volatility of the environment, not necessarily the backup software. Backup software usually does what's it's designed to do. When introduced to a complex environment like any large enterprise, there are a multitude of file types, operating systems, network protocols and network devices and storage devices. Coupled with human interaction at almost every point of the equation, it creates an almost impossible system to perfect with a simple intermediary or middleware storage solution like a piece of backup software.

There are two-dozen different, very common reasons why backups fail. Failures are often caused by the fact that a file is corrupt or the network is overburdened. The backup software will time-out, the tape drive is full and no one realized it, or the tape drive is corrupt and can no longer accept the data.

sWM: Are there any unique issues with backing up Windows environments?

The Windows environment tends to be a more distributed environment and is extended out to a multitude of employees. As a result you're dealing with large, vast numbers of devices you're backing up at any given time with multiple targets on each device.

sWM: What can companies do to increase backup success without adding more storage devices to current infrastructures?

There are different solutions you can use depending on the type of environment you're operating in. If you have a fairly centralized storage group, you have to have a product that can actually consolidate all this information and provide it in an easy-to-understand, easy-to-identify format. Underlying backup products do provide log files. The log files provide some information relating to failures of backups and reasons that those backups are failing. So if you have the time, you could actually review each of these log files each day. However, you're looking at fairly esoteric messages associated with the backup activity for that day. It is doable and there are companies that spot check log files on a day-to-day basis. People could also do some sort of scripting and try to create their own internal solutions. They have to support them internally, though.

sWM: Could you explain the benefits of BackupReport's agentless technology?

Agentless technology simplifies the operating environment. IT professionals can install and configure BackupReport and begin running reports in less than an hour. Perhaps more importantly, it allows easy upgrades and minimizes the impact of BackupReport on the operating environment. So, even though it reports on a large amount of data and a large amount of operational activity in the backup system, it has almost no measurable impact on either the backup server or the network infrastructure. It has no impact on any of the clients or storage devices or any other attached device to the storage network.


Demystify backup success rates

SearchWindowsManageability Best Web Links on Backup and Recovery.

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