New Ways to Put a Charge Into Backup

Bocada tool tracks backup, disaster recovery services.

Tired of seeing your companys storage needs being labeled as a budgetary black hole?

A new breed of backup auditing tools coming to market can track down users and groups responsible for major resource consumption, accurately measure whos using how much, and set up appropriate billing guidelines.

For beleaguered IT departments that dont have the resources to build their own, the new backup and recovery auditing products are coming out just in time. Off-the-shelf tools from Bocada Inc. enable IT managers to analyze in depth the backup resource usage at their organizations. And vendors including Storage- Networks Inc. have backup auditing tools on the way.

Storage resource management products such as W. Quinn Associates Inc.s StorageCentral SRM have been around for years now, and for the most part they do an excellent job of tracking the storage usage patterns of users on file servers and RAID units.

However, theres still a real need for comparable tools for tracking backup and disaster recovery services. Until quite recently, companies that were searching for a backup audit and billing tool were forced to build their own from the ground up. Storage service provider StorageNetworks, for example, had to build its own solutions in-house to make sure it could uphold the SLAs (service-level agreements) it had promised to its clients.

Usage Has Its Price

in iweek labs tests, we found that Bocadas BackupReport, released earlier this spring, worked with our installed backup utility, Veritas Software Corp.s Backup Exec, to provide a centralized console for monitoring all our backup platforms.

At the same time, Backup- Report enables IT managers to measure the amount of backup resources consumed by an organization as a whole, by groups or by individuals.

Currently, most IT shops have initiatives in place to centralize backup and disaster recovery services to a single platform, primarily to accurately gauge resource use but also in the interest of saving time and money.

However, most IT shops still have multiple backup infrastructures in place, a situation that more often than not resulted when IT managers were forced to rely on several mediocre legacy backup packages to make sure all their platforms were covered.

For example, if a company has Windows, HP-UX and Solaris servers, it probably has three backup packages to support, along with separate packages for backing up mobile laptops and legacy mainframes.

Bocadas BackupReport offers a single management console from which IT managers can check the reliability of their backup implementations to make sure all their data is given a reasonable amount of protection.

Interoperability Critical

as with any other management tool, interoperability is a key ingredient. BackupReport supports most major backup programs, including Hewlett-Packard Co.s OmniBack, Legato Systems Inc.s Networker and Veritas NetBackup.

With a starting price of $6,000 per server, Bocadas BackupReport is not a cost-efficient application for smaller companies. Larger companies that need to maintain SLAs for their clients and have multiple backup platforms to support will have the most use for a product such as BackupReport.

The billing component in Bocadas BackupReport keeps track of resources used and automatically bills clients according to predetermined metrics (for example, charging a dollar amount per megabyte backed up).

The extensive reporting in Backup- Report allows IT managers to see performance trends and patterns of data growth. By doing trend analysis, IT managers can use this data to predict future hardware upgrades (more data to back up likely means more tapes must be purchased).

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at henry_baltazar@ziffdavis. com.