By Tom Giuliano, Senior Product Marketing Manager, EMC Backup Recovery Systems Division
Imagine you’re on a sailboat out in the middle of the ocean. I’m talking way, way off shore. You can’t see land. You’re alone but that’s OK because you have tons of boating experience – you love adventure and are up to the challenge! You’re confident you’ve seen it all and believe you could handle any problems that may come up.
It’s a beautiful day – the sun is out, the wind is constant – you’re just sailing along smoothly. You’ve charted a course across the ocean and as an experienced sailor you went prepared; you have a good pair of binoculars to enhance your vision, GPS navigation to help guide your course, and lifejackets, just in case. Periodic checks on the navigation screen show that you’re constantly on course. And with those binoculars you can see quite a bit further than you could with your normal eyesight. The only limitation is the horizon and the surface of the ocean. Other than that, if it’s out there you think you’d see it coming. Life is good. I wish I were there with you.
Of course, all things must and do change. First, it starts to get overcast, then cloudy, then rain…then the sun sets. The winds build quickly and so do the waves. The boat feels like a cork being bobbed all over the ocean. You tighten the straps on your lifejacket. You have to take the sails down so you don’t capsize. The navigation system starts chirping as you go off course. Recalculating. And you accidentally drop your binoculars overboard (darn, they were expensive!). You no longer know what’s out there. Good feeling gone.
Well, now that you’re floating out in the middle of the violent sea you have plenty of time now to think about your day job as a backup administrator. Much like your most recent adventure you’re proactive about safety since your job is all about protecting critical business data. You think you’ve taken the right precautions just like in your sailing: your backup applications tell you they’re operating as you expect and you’ve set up protection policies and configurations so backups should occur on time. You believe what each application is telling you; just like your binoculars and GPS did….until you encountered something unexpected. Something you didn’t see coming.
The unknown and unexpected will get you every time. The unexpected audit. The unexpected failed backup. The unknown configuration change. You can plan and plan and plan and plan. You can even have a contingency plan. But you can’t be everywhere and see everything all the time. It’s simply not possible. There aren’t enough hours in the day to constantly check ALL components of your backup environment manually. You need automated processes to keep an eye on it all, and then for that same solution to report success or failure when the business needs to know. And, should something fail, you need to know what went wrong, when, where and how so you can correct the issue before there are business impacts.
I’m sure we can all appreciate the kinds of environments IT professionals are expected to manage on a day-in, day-out basis. Data protection environments can be very complex, using a mixture of technologies across backup, replication, straightforward file copies, etc to manage the application data right through to the archive device. And if you don’t have a tool like EMC Data Protection Advisor in your environment, what you get confronted with is a very rich set of element manager outputs. What that means is that you will have data for one of these devices and how it is performing, but most critically you are the person who is responsible for pulling that together and making sense of it for the entire path. Data Protection Advisor makes your life much easier.
Data protection management is about unifying the views for all the element managers, and automating much of that manual collation of data and processes. It’s all about enhanced visibility. Those binoculars you had while sailing along smoothly on the nice sunny day were great for seeing out to the horizon, but they were of no value to show what was going on under the surface. And they certainly couldn’t see under the surface. What about the GPS system on the sailboat you ask? Much like in a car it probably did a good job of identifying a path to get from point A to point B, but if you go off course it has to recalculate the route…not exactly proactive.
The bottom line is that built-in monitoring and reporting capabilities in our backup applications do a fair job of showing us what that particular backup application has accomplished. However, it can’t tell us what the other applications have done. We need a data protection management solution to see across multiple applications, processes and configurations, let alone see changes and proactively analyze the entire environment. With a solution like Data Protection Advisor, we will automatically be alerted to a seemingly small configuration change in one of the backup application policies. It may seem inconsequential but if that small change doesn’t allow a backup to occur (or worse), it’s VERY important! DPA gives us the ability to see where we have been and where we’re going, provides confirmation that data is truly protected, and detects any issues BEFORE catastrophe occurs.
So, just like sailing, being proactive in your data protection environment requires comprehensive visibility of your environment. After all, you can’t protect against what you can’t see. EMC Data Protection Advisor provides this insight to ensure your mission-critical business data is protected.
The Right Architecture Is Priceless, Part IEvolving data protection technology and expanding requirements have completely transformed the backup industry. Unfortunately, with such rapid change, many organizations have fallen into the chaos of an accidental architecture.