Windows IT Pro Storage UPDATE--Back to Storage Basics--October 10, 2005

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1. Commentary
- Back to the Basics for Storage Pros

2. From the Community
- Fix Available for Windows 2003 VSS Problems

3. New and Improved
- CommVault, LiveVault Augment Microsoft DPM
- Paragon Software Group Updates Its Server-Recovery Product
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

4. Windows IT Pro Resources

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==== 1. Commentary: Back to the Basics for Storage Pros ====
by Elliot King, [email protected]

Even as Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), storage virtualization, and continuous data protection (CDP) dominate the trade-press headlines and industry conferences, businesses are still trying to get a handle on basic storage practices. Recent research reports sponsored by storage and backup vendors show that companies lack effective tape backup and data-archiving strategies.

Tape-Backup Practices Lag
The first survey, sponsored by Asigra, which offers multisite backup and recovery solutions, reveals that many companies apparently haven't yet implemented effective tape backup practices, particularly for remote offices. The second study, commissioned by BridgeHead Software, shows that not only do companies frequently fail to establish efficient data-archiving procedures, many storage managers don't even really understand data-archiving principles. The lack of a data-archiving infrastructure could have serious consequences as new regulations increase the likelihood that companies will have to retrieve small batches of data long after it's been created or last used. In addition, near-online data archiving can help data-intensive applications run more efficiently.

Because tape has long been the backbone for most backup systems, you'd probably assume--not unreasonably--that by now most companies would have effective tape backup systems. That assumption, however, would be wrong. According to the Asigra-sponsored survey, 75 percent of respondents said their companies had suffered unrecoverable loss of corporate data--which they thought had been successfully backed up--because of unreadable, lost, or stolen data.

Sixty-three percent of respondents said they had to deal with tapes that proved unreadable when they tried to retrieve data. In 76 percent of those cases, the company felt a direct impact either through lost productivity or punishment for violating specific regulations.

In addition to failed tapes, 20 percent of the respondents said that data tapes had been lost or stolen. Finally, only 61 percent indicated that they'd established routine backup procedures for their remote offices. Of the others, 17 percent admitted that they had no formal backup process for remote offices.

Although the use of local disk and centralized backup mechanisms instead of tape can be effective in the right circumstances and is becoming more commonplace, tape is still the most widely deployed backup approach. The central issue in establishing sound storage policies, however, isn't only technology; it's also policy. Companies must develop and adhere to best practices. Companies that regularly test their tape backup technology won't be rudely surprised by failed tapes. Furthermore, businesses need to set up stringent safeguards to prevent lost or stolen data.

Data Archiving Not Widely Used
Data archiving is another essential storage practice that many storage pros aren't paying enough attention to. In a summer 2005 study commissioned by BridgeHead Software, which provides integrated storage-management solutions, 28 percent of respondents say that they don't archive data at all. Another 67 percent use manual techniques for data archiving, and only 25 percent apply automated approaches to data archiving.

Answers to other questions in the survey prove even more troubling. More than 65 percent of respondents indicate that 20 percent to 50 percent or more of their server-based storage consists of unstructured user data. Sixty-six percent say that email comprises at least 20 percent of their primary storage--including prearchived material, such as Microsoft Outlook .pst files.

Those figures, say BridgeHead Software officials, imply that companies don't really understand archiving. According to BridgeHead CEO Tony Cotterill, companies shouldn't have to devote so large a percentage of their primary storage to email and unique, individual files. Moreover, says Cotterill, 15 percent of respondents say they had no idea how long it would take them to retrieve an individual lost file, and 2 percent admit that they might not be able to retrieve a lost file at all. Since archiving involves indexing content so that it can be retrieved later by using a keyword, Cotterill suggests that many companies confuse archiving with backup and recovery.

Storage professionals are at a tricky crossroads. They need to adopt new approaches and techniques that potentially can add tremendous value to their storage infrastructure. But as they explore new ideas, they should also make sure that they've established best practices--and that those policies are followed--in backup and recovery, data archiving, and other storage essentials.

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==== 2. From the Community ====

Fix Available for Windows 2003 VSS Problems

During a backup process on a Windows Server 2003 or Small Business Server 2003 system, problems could occur related to Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). For instance, some VSS service writers might fail because of timeout errors that cause the backup to fail. (A service writer is a program or service that uses VSS to save information to a shadow copy storage area.) In addition, shadow copies of shared network folders could be deleted during backup or during times of high levels of I/O. For more information about the problem and the fix for it, go to http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=826936.

==== 3. New and Improved ====
by Anne Grubb, [email protected]

CommVault, LiveVault Augment Microsoft DPM

Hot on the heels of the official release of Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM), two well-known vendors of backup and recovery products and services, CommVault and LiveVault, are promoting offerings that work with and enhance DPM's disk-based backup capability.

CommVault, known for its QiNetix Unified Data Management suite of backup and recovery products, announced that its QiNetix products add to DPM QiNetix's extensive support for backing up and recovering data in Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server and Windows SharePoint Services (e.g., SharePoint documents, metadata), and Active Directory (AD). "We see DPM as an opportunity and extension of our overall application-integrated Microsoft platform," says Randy De Meno, CommVault's director of advanced applications and Microsoft partnership. CommVault also stated that its software can protect a DPM server itself by allowing it to be backed up to any backup media device (e.g., SAN, disk, tape, across a domain) and restored to any Windows system in an enterprise.

LiveVault, which provides disk-based online backup and recovery solutions, launched LiveVault InSync Service for Microsoft DPM. InSync for DPM complements DPM by automatically and securely transporting DPM server data electronically offsite to a remote facility where it's available for immediate recovery when needed. "We're launching LiveVault InSync Service for DPM to ensure that companies using Microsoft DPM are able to fully safeguard their data by storing it securely offsite, protected against human and natural disasters," says Bob Cramer, LiveVault president and CEO. InSync for DPM also seamlessly integrates with the LiveVault InSync online backup and recovery service, so that companies that use DPM to back up file and print servers can also fully back up and restore their Exchange servers, SQL Server databases, and other key applications.

For more information about the CommVault and LiveVault products, contact the vendors on the Web:
http://www.commvault.com
http://www.livevault.com

Paragon Software Group Updates Its Server-Recovery Product

Paragon Software Group, a provider of disk-backup and management products, has released Paragon Drive Backup 7.0 Server Edition, a hard-disk-imaging product. Drive Backup Server lets you back up an entire Windows server in real time, lets you designate a Backup Capsule--a secure place on your hard drive to store the server backup image, supports dynamic disk volumes, and lets you perform various types of server restores quickly. The product also includes a Recovery CD feature, which you can use to access data on the hard drive after a server crash. Drive Backup 7.0 Server Edition is priced at $399. For more information about the product, contact the vendor on the Web:
http://www.paragon.ag

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