By Sonia R. Lelii
Storage Technology recently added a new backup monitoring and automation software tool that can be used with its L-Series and StreamLine tape libraries (including the recently released StreamLine SL500 and SL8500), a move that fits into the company's larger goal of becoming a player in the information life-cycle management (ILM) market.
The company's Backup Resource Monitor (BRM) software gives IT managers a detailed view of their backup infrastructure from the application through the network and into the tape automation components. StorageTek refers to BRM as storage resource management (SRM) software.
For years, storage administrators have complained that tape is notoriously unreliable, with analysts reporting that on average 40% of nightly backups fail. In many instances, IT managers don't even know that the backup has failed until they attempt to recover critical data. To help with that problem, StorageTek's BRM software generates reports on the success rates of backups and highlights failure points across the backup environment. The intelligent software can be used to monitor, analyze, and tune backup environments and also helps storage administrators identify vulnerable backup clients.
"The reliability of backup has been dismal in the tape world," says Arun Taneja, an analyst and founder of the Taneja Group consulting firm. "StorageTek has taken a step that improves tape backup."
In the bigger picture, BRM is another move by StorageTek in its quest to become more than a tape company. According to STK executives, the company's larger goal is to build a product portfolio, in both hardware and software, that could make the company a bigger player in the ILM market.
Russ Kennedy, director of software development in StorageTek's Information Lifecycle Management Solutions Group, identifies six tiers of storage hardware that make up ILM solutions: enterprise disk arrays, modular and midrange disk arrays, object-based file stores, Serial ATA (SATA) and JBOD subsystems, high performance and fast access tape libraries and, finally, high-capacity tape devices. Thus far, StorageTek is primarily focused on the last four layers and is investing heavily in the areas of object-based file stores and SATA/JBOD subsystems, with plans to announce products later this year. Although primarily known for its tape products, StorageTek also offers disk arrays through its D-Series product family.
On the software side, Kennedy cites data classification, data management, and data movement as the three tiers of an ILM software strategy. Data classification (categorizing data according to its importance to the business) is the least clearly defined of the three tiers so far because it's the part that goes up into the application layer, according to Kennedy. But StorageTek has already delivered products that fit into the data management and data movement tiers. For example, STK's MirrorStore appliance enables local and remote replication, and EchoView is a disk-based appliance that eliminates the backup window.
But the key to any solid ILM solution is the software portfolio. And one of the advantages that STK brings to the table is that it is agnostic regarding backup software, according to Taneja. For instance, the BRM tool supports several backup applications, including Legato's NetWorker, Tivoli's Storage Manager, and Veritas' NetBackup. In addition, BRM supports SAN switches from Brocade, Cisco, and McData.