Storage Managers Seek Better Backup Methods

Storage Managers Seek Better Backup Methods

Faced with shrinking backup windows and continued data growth, IT managers said at a conference last week that they're trying to cope by consolidating storage-area networks (SAN), getting a better view of their storage infrastructures and increasing the amount of online disk storage at their disposal.

Virtual tape libraries (VTL) and disk-to-disk backup systems topped the list of technologies that users at the Storage Decisions 2004 conference here said they're rolling out in order to speed up their data backup and recovery procedures.

"We keep getting more pressure to bring down the data recovery time," said Robert Stevenson, a technology strategist at Nielsen Media Research in New York. Stevenson expects the company to install VTLs from Storage Technology, as well as disk-to-disk backup technology.

"Disk-to-disk backup gives you better performance across the whole organization," he said. "Our struggle right now is when you get these 20TB to 30TB database warehouses. You don't want to have to recover [the data] from tape."

Manny Punzo Jr., a senior associate in SAN operations at Discover Financial Services, said he's looking at VTLs - disk arrays that appear to be tape libraries to application servers -- to help him address "a concern that our backup window is not being met" in all cases.

Microsoft became the latest vendor to promise support for disk-based backups, announcing at the conference that it plans to release software called Data Protection Server late next year.

Dennis Moore, director of enterprise architecture at Retail Ventures in Columbus, has three data centers and is working to replicate information among them for business continuity and disaster recovery.

Moore said he's testing VTL technology as a way to help Retail Ventures migrate from digital linear tape drives to linear tape open products. VTLs would make it possible to copy data from the DLT drives to disks before moving the information to LTO-based tape libraries, he said.

IT managers also need to have access to sufficient information about their storage systems, Moore said. "If you're not getting reports on data storage systems every day, you've got data at risk," he said, adding that an audit is being conducted within his company to validate the chain of custody for data among end users.

Michael Salins, a senior systems engineer at The Interpublic Group of Companies in New York, said he chose storage management tools from CommVault Systems because the built-in reporting capabilities were "leaps and bounds" above other products.

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