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April 27, 2010



Chuck: This is a great piece. I recently presented a related talk at SNW 2010 entitled "Introduction to Data Protection: Backup to Tape, Disk and beyond". Your points about backup media are spot-on. Tape is not quite dead yet.

While this backup blog post was interesting, I think you'll grab more interest if you talk about the challenges and implications of recovery.


I don't think this message can be posted often enough. The poster child for what you talk about is JournalSpace.com. They relied on RAID and mirroring as the soul means of protecting the data but when the data was wiped out on the source, fast replication promptly wiped it out on the target. They didn't go out of business but they don't have the same owners today. My guess would be that the original owners got a soaker and the new owners have an uphill battle of re-establishing JournalSpace's credibility. Of course all the other IT shops in the world learned their lessons and invested in a proper backup strategy......(?)


Let me start my comment with my favourite outrageous(?) statement: Nobody wants Backups!!
Backups are a typically error prone process, interfere with production, keep IT personell busy and therefore are associated with "trouble".
What people really want, is the ability to restore/recover lost data and lost application services. If you start from this perspective (i.e. with looking at the requirements first) you'll quickly see weaknesses of many backup implementations.
You mentioned some of the typical weaknesses and also some means to deal with them. I totally agree that tools like Data Protection Advisor (DPA) are great to measure and monitor Backup (or Replication ;-)) and Restore processes.
Nevertheless: tools like DPA tell you things about the "known world" only, i.e. about environments you run backups for. But how do you ensure that you don't forget to include a server or database in the backup at all?
We ran a relatively simple test at a customer site with a combination of SMARTS Application Discovery Manager (ADM) and DPA. ADM passively discovers all servers and services (and even their dependencies) from listening to the network traffic. We fed its output into DPA and reported servers/services in the network against those found in the backups.
We found quite a number of servers and even databases that were never backed up.
Management Tools are essential in a quickly changing and more and more complex environment. But make sure to check for "uncharted territory". This is essential, as well, to stay in control. Even more during rapid changes.

Dominic Cody

Backup always seems to be a hot topic for a while then vanish then come back to bite people. Over the past 4 years I would say the industry take on backups has really driven forward.
Of course companies and even the techy people themselves get caught up on the idea of backups and archiving and can't actually seem to distinguish between the 2. They are completely different things and people need to start to understand this.
The one thing that is true beyond any doubt is the fact that backup is changing in the first instance moving from tape to disk/VTL with De-Dupe but then of course tape always needs to be involved. And then Archive does need to be linked hand in hand as this could be a better course of action for some data rather than backup. It all boils down to a user case by case basis.

Does that make any sense (not sure myself now)


LTO 4 Tape

that's a good definition... thanks Chuck!

Brian Kevin Johnston

Thanks.. Great article... "Thinking Of Information Protection As A Service" I could not agree more.... best, Brian-


You're right about it many are saying its dead but they don't know that they are only developing it.Backup services now a days are been everywhere but in Finland i seen a IT companies that specializing backup services which is really popular there and it was really amazing because they always consider backup so many of IT will surely restored when their is a error and other natural error.

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Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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