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Data backup reporting tools' trending features rank highly with backup administrators readers gave the trending/analysis features of their backup reporting tools the highest ranking of any of the features we inquired about in a recent survey.

Data backup reporting tools have evolved to include trending and analysis features to better help in planning for backup data growth -- a valuable asset for companies doing backups to tape, and especially for those backing up to disk. readers gave the trending/analysis features of their backup reporting tools the highest ranking of any of the features we inquired about in a recent survey (average ranking of 3.7 out of 4). When backup reporting tools first emerged, they were used primarily to report backup successes/failures, but users have adopted this newer feature with success.

"I'm not surprised that trending and the ability to perform analysis ranked highly," said Lauren Whitehouse, analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. "The more historical data one has, the better one will be able to predict what might occur in the future. This allows organizations to be more proactive than reactive, so it's less of a fire drill and more cost-efficient to acquire additional capacity before you run out or hit a high watermark."

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Greg Schulz, founder and analyst with StorageIO Group agreed. "Trending and analysis tools are becoming popular given their increased availability, affordability as well as extensibility in terms of coverage capabilities," he said. "Making informed decisions involves looking at past trends and activities as well as what's going on now to determine how effective data protection is being performed, and to further optimize, insight is needed to gauge success and where there's room for improvement."

Planning for future data growth is clearly important to respondents, but they are also concerned with making the most of their current capacity. Utilization reports were ranked the next highest; indicating respondents are interested in making sure their backup strategy is efficient. With budgets flat or down, it's hardly a surprise that storage pros are trying to do more with less. Third ranked was alerts/troubleshooting reports; and success/failure reports were ranked the lowest.

But, backup reporting tools are by no means essential to our readers. In fact, nearly 45% of respondents don't use backup reporting software at all. And, among those that do, more than 70% of respondents use the backup reporting tool offered by their backup software vendor. Over the last few years, most data backup software vendors have improved the reporting features of the suites.

According to Jeff Boles, analyst with the Taneja Group, "[Some users] realize the complexity of their overall backup processes, and may consider the more sophisticated third-party solutions on the market like Bocada Inc., Aptare Inc., and WysDM [now owned by EMC]."

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