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Backup, but don't go backward

George Symons, vice president of product management and development for Mountain View, CA-based Legato Systems, Inc., discusses common backup mistakes and how to avoid them.

Yes, backup is necessary. So, why don't IT managers do backup frequently and without mistakes? SearchWindowsManageability spoke to George Symons, vice president of product management and development for Mountain View, CA-based Legato Systems, Inc., about why it's easy to flub routine backup tasks. Symons also shares some overall storage management suggestions and offers an insider's view of the capabilities that Legato's new release, NetWorker 6.1, brings to heterogeneous enterprises.

sWM: What is the number one tip you can offer for data storage management?

Get your hands around what your storage utilization is today. I see a lot of people purchasing extra disks and hardware, and it's only because they don't know what they're using and what they have. Unfortunately, the cost of maintaining this is continuing to go through the roof, and they don't have enough people to maintain what they have in most cases. It's important to get their hands around that. To me, that's more important than the new technologies that are out there.

sWM: What is most common backup mistake IT managers make?

The one everyone knows, but unfortunately not too many people get, is that if you are making backups, please verify that they are successful, that you can recover the data. Also, when you're backing up and protecting information, make sure you're protecting the application along with it. Lastly, there's been a big push for a while, which has seemed to slow down, to go to storage area networks (SANs). I think people should be spending more time worrying about existing systems and configurations and making them work properly before completely reconfiguring the environment.

sWM: What enterprise computing problem are you addressing with NetWorker?

Protection and availability of your data and information. We're both protecting you from disaster, in terms of total loss of systems or corruption of data, and working with you on availability so that when you do have a problem we can get you up and running as fast as possible.

sWM: Why does this problem exist in enterprise environments?

Hardware and systems break occasionally. It also exists because of human error. People remove files they didn't mean to remove. Problems also exist because of deliberate attacks, hacker attacks corrupting information.

sWM: How does NetWorker handle data storage in a mixed Windows and Linux environment?

That's been one of the strengths of the product for a long time, the heterogeneity of it. The NetWorker server can be run on any of the platforms, meaning Unix, Linux, and Windows. It will backup clients of any type. The NetWorker server can be on any one of these, but the clients it will back up can be whatever's out there -- the Window's clients or Linux. All the data gets backed up to the NetWorker server and gets stored on tape. We store it in an open tape format because that way it can be recovered on any server back to the appropriate system. If my NetWorker server is running on a Windows box, it will be backing up Linux or Windows or other Unix platforms. If, for some reason, when I need to recover, if that Windows box where the NetWorker server is not running, I can take that same tape to a Linux server running NetWorker and still recover the data to all those clients.

sWM: How does NetWorker 6.1 incorporate with storage resource management (SRM) and the other storage-related acronyms out there now?

In most cases, those acronyms really are complimentary. There isn't a product area coming out that is in conflict. SRM is a great way to figure out what storage I have available, what I'm using, how I'm using it and in conjunction with a product like NetWorker. One thing an SRM product can tell you is if you just added new disks to the environment and have these new file systems, you better be backing up those new file systems. In that sense they work very well together. Other areas include SAN management tools, which help you understand the different components out there and the configuration of that environment and then manage that environment, which is complimentary. We're also hearing a lot about virtualization. The idea that I have all this storage on the network now, and how can I utilize it now when a database needs more space. I want to have a virtual environment where I don't care if that space happens to be in another radar ray. I want to extend my database to utilize that available disk storage. From our point of view that is something we integrate with.

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