Answer

Backup monitoring tools shifting focus to application recovery

Are backup monitoring tools growing in popularity?

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Backup monitoring solutions have historically provided some relief for the complexity of backup applications and infrastructures that had to support many different server platforms, applications, storage systems, etc. Products like Bocada and Aptare took advantage of the fact that the legacy enterprise backup products typically had terrible reporting and management capabilities by providing automation and sophisticated tools to help IT get their arms around their data protection infrastructures.

Data protection has changed since the days of traditional backup when essentially the company's entire data set was moved across the network to the backup storage device every week (or every night). Now, disk backup appliances use technologies like deduplication, snapshots and clones to reduce much of this data movement.

While server virtualization seems like a simplification, from a backup perspective, the hypervisor is just another platform that has to be supported. For many companies this means (another) dedicated backup solution. Products like Veeam or vRanger Pro take a snapshot of the VM image for backup, journal the writes during this process and then merge those changes back into the original VM.

While backup complexity probably hasn't increased, the interest in sophisticated monitoring solutions really hasn't either -- but the interest in application recovery has. Application recovery using virtual machines stored in the cloud can replace both the backup and restore processes, and provide a real DR capability as well.

Hybrid cloud DR solutions capture VM images from critical servers, store them on site and send a copy to the cloud. This image is kept updated ready to be started in the event of a system failure -- or site-wide disaster. Some of these solutions can even convert physical servers to VM images during the backup process.

While monitoring tools for the backup infrastructure are still available, the focus has shifted from data backup and restore to application recovery. With the help of server virtualization and the cloud, solutions are now available that merge data protection and disaster recovery into a single infrastructure, some available as a service.

This was first published in April 2014

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