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Understanding Advanced Backup Reporting

February 26, 2008


Today’s IT departments require advanced backup reporting to align backup and recovery operations with company business-level goals.


For data center managers, it’s a confirmation of the many ways in which their lives have been transformed. The Symantec State of the Data Center Report, released in October 2007, conveys in unambiguous terms the challenges they face every day. Based on extensive surveys and interviews with data center managers at Global 2000 organizations, the report finds:
  • The amount of data generated by data center applications is exploding and much of it must be protected, in accordance with new privacy and government regulations, and retained for longer periods of time.
  • Roughly two-thirds of the data center managers surveyed said their data centers are becoming too complex to manage easily.
  • As if dealing with this complexity were not enough, more than half of the data center managers said internal service-level-agreement (SLA) demands are increasing.
  • The majority of managers said it is getting harder to find qualified staff. And more than half of the managers said their data centers are understaffed.
  • Budgets are relatively flat or show only modest gains.
The result, according to the report, is that the global nature of the Internet and the international extent of many companies are driving the demand to keep systems and applications available 24x7. No surprise, then, that backup and recovery now rate as the number one storage “pain point.”

This article looks at how backup reporting solutions, far from being “just another tool to manage,” can resolve a fundamental problem caused by complexity and high data volume and demand at large data centers.

Satisfying the demands of different constituencies

One of the many paradoxes data center managers face today is that, even as data volumes and complexity steadily increase, so too do demands for reliable, well-documented backups. These demands may be internal (from SLAs, say, or continuous improvement frameworks). Or they may be external (from regulatory agencies, the courts, and paying customers). In any case, the net result is that data center managers are under increasing pressure to “prove” that critical data is backed up and business-critical clients and applications are recoverable within established corporate or industry policies.

Traditionally, large data centers have had to rely on manual methods or locally created scripts to address the need for backup and recovery reporting. But those are no longer realistic options. For one thing, such reports tend to be written by IT staff for their own use, and so are unlikely to reflect the concerns of customers or regulators. Without that kind of meaningful input, IT is hardly in the position to prove to the company that backups are successfully completing, service levels are being met, and the needs of all the different stakeholders within the organization are being addressed. Small wonder, then, that the business side has tended to view backup and recovery as an unmanageable cost center and necessary evil.

Fortunately, a new generation of tools can help IT organizations align their operations with compliance goals and SLAs, which in turn allows IT to prove its worth. Business-level reporting solutions like Veritas Backup Reporter are flexible enough to be used by IT managers and specialists, application owners, IT finance, the legal team, line-of-business managers, and capacity-planning teams, as well as external customers and compliance auditors.

The solutions are designed to provide accurate, auditable reports that measure performance against internal SLAs and help to verify requirements from continuous improvement frameworks such as ISO 1799.

Backup Reporter provides a mechanism for IT administrators to achieve cost analysis, departmental visibility, and chargeback. Values for backup and recovery operations can be formulated, assigned, and appropriated to specific business units or customers. This helps IT administrators show what backup resources are being consumed and assigns a value to backup operations that is based on the requirements of the business. Reports can be filtered by custom parameters that can be designated to meet the company’s needs. For example, backup utilization can be presented in a variety of parameters such as geography, application, business unit, platform, location, and service tier.

In particular, Backup Reporter enables IT organizations to:
  • Track backup job success against targets over time to ensure backups occur within SLA parameters
  • Aggregate historical data to identify growth trends and effectively plan backup resources
  • Monitor resource utilization and identify constraints associated with individual geographies or applications
  • Customize data views providing context to backup reports such as line of business, backup domain, or application.
Of particular importance are forecasting tools built into the solutions. Forecasts support capacity and resource planning, including decisions about when business recovery objectives make it necessary to purchase new drives, servers, and media.

Also, having multiple backup applications as a result of mergers and/or acquisitions with no centralized view is a major problem in many large organizations today. For these heterogeneous environments, Backup Reporter provides a centralized reporting view of Veritas NetBackup, NetBackup PureDisk, and Backup Exec as well as other backup applications such as CommVault Galaxy, EMC NetWorker, and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager.


Backup administration and reporting continue to be a major pain point for today’s enterprises. Many of these organizations rely on manual processes and batch scripts, which are costly and inefficient and prone to error. At the same time, government regulations and corporate governance are becoming a reality, and IT departments are being pressured to “prove” backup and recovery service-level compliance. Yet the fact remains that backup and recovery continue to be viewed as a cost center, and not aligned with business goals.

Veritas Backup Reporter provides advanced backup reporting to help IT staff enhance the efficiencies of their backup and recovery operations, help verify backup service-level compliance, and bring costs associated with backup and recovery in line with the needs of the business.

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