Bocada takes backup analysis up a notch


At first glance, Bocada's BackupReport software may appear to be just another backup reporting tool, but don't be fooled. Analysts say the software provides a level of data protection that, from a reporting perspective, is unique in the industry.

"I don't know of any other [reporting] software with this depth," says David Hill, research director, storage and storage management, at the Aberdeen Group consulting firm, in Boston. "Others can do parts of what BackupReport can do, but nothing as comprehensive."

Carolyn DiCenzo, a chief analyst at Gartner Group/ Dataquest, agrees, but says she expects to see more products like BackupReport over the next year.

The software is a backup reporting, analysis, and billing tool that provides a single, consolidated view of backup activity in multi-server (Unix and NT) direct-attached storage, storage area network, or network-attached storage environments.

Bocada officials say that because BackupReport supports CA ARCserve, HP Omniback, Legato NetWorker, Microsoft NT Backup, and Veritas Backup Exec and NetBackup, it is designed to complement, not compete with, existing storage management software.

According to Hill, "Products from Veritas and Legato do a very good job at actually doing backup, and they report on problems, but they don't address key questions like 'How do I back up data across the board?', 'Are there systemic problems with my backup?', and 'Is all the data that needs to be backed actually being backed up?' "

BackupReport quickly identifies causes of backup failures by scanning a matrix of backup servers, clients, and targets.
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BackupReport is designed to answer these questions and others associated with the day-to-day management of backup operations and with planning for future backup needs, explains Mark Silverman, CEO of the two-year-old start-up. "We're focusing on the fundamental issue that if data isn't backed up, it can't be recovered." This is in sharp contrast with storage resource management (SRM) and virtualization products, which focus on efficiency, not the reliability, of the backup process, he says.

BackupReport is an agent-less architecture that, unlike SRM packages, sits on top of-not behind-the backup application. This placement has a couple of key benefits over agent-driven tools, claims Silverman. "It reduces installation time to less than one hour and reduces to almost nothing the impact the backup reporting tool has on the infrastructure."

The software has three key modules: Reliability & Diagnostics, Backup Resource Management, and Backup Billing & Compliance. The reliability and diagnostic module identifies backup failures and their causes; the resource management tool graphically displays backup performance to help users efficiently manage and predict backup resource requirements; and the billing and compliance feature tracks and automatically bills users for services on a per-backup and per-megabyte basis.

Bocada says it will distribute BackupReport outside the US principally through value-added resellers (VARs). Primary targets inside the US include VARs, system integrators, and storage service providers, though the company also plans to sell direct to users. The software starts at $5,500 for a single-server environment.

Backup reporting software saves big bucks

Since implementing Bocada's Backup-Report software six months ago, the Seattle branch of one of the nation's largest financial management firms has seen a dramatic improvement in the success rate of its backup operations. The branch, which backs up 500GB to 1TB of data daily using seven NT backup servers, reports a backup success rate of 80% to 85% with Backup-Report, compared to 40% with Veritas Backup Exec.

"We only have one to two failures a month due to operator error versus one a day with Backup Exec alone," explains Roger Oedewaldt, assistant vice president for the branch. He says that while it is possible to get similar results from traditional backup applications, that task is neither easy nor quick.

"I can spend seven or eight hours studying all the data the servers generate, or I can read the analysis generated by BackupReport and within 15 minutes get the answers," he explains.

Bocada's reporting tool provides a comprehensive view of the backup/recovery process, which can be used to reduce the incidence of operator error, to provide advance warning in the case of corrupted files, and to influence budgetary discussions.

"It lays it on the line and shows what you-and upper management-are and aren't backing up," he explains. In terms of cost savings, there is the potential to save thousands of dollars, claims Oedewaldt. As an example, he cites a $1 million loss last year in a client dispute that could not be resolved because of a failed year-end backup at the firm's San Francisco office. "It had failed and we didn't know it," he adds. "Had BackupReport been installed, the cost savings would have been huge-$1 million minus the cost of BackupReport for the year [an estimated $40,000]."

Oedewaldt hopes to take advantage of some of BackupReports' back-billing capabilities in the future, which he says aren't possible with Backup Exec.

This article was originally published on November 01, 2001