Storage Basics: The Tale of the Tape Page 2
The Software Scoop
While backup drives form a big piece of the equation, backup software is also an issue. Often, the software that ships with the drive is not an application an enterprise will want to deploy in a production environment. Fortunately, stand-alone software solutions are available.
"The basic backup software included with backup hardware or shipped with the operating system are designed for testing purposes," says Scott Kosciuk, product marketing manager for VERITAS. "[More extensive] network backup and recovery solutions have deep integration with databases and applications."
Such solutions allow backups while applications are in use. "Can you imagine if you couldn't get email access or place an order over the Web because the administrator had to back up the system?" Kosciuk asks.
A dedicated backup and restore software vendor will also support more operating systems. Bakbone Software's Director of Product Management Jet Martin brags of Bakbone's support for 17 server operating systems and multiple hardware platforms (including NAS/SAN options) as a differentiator for customers still running, for example, an Alpha or SCO instance.
"If you can't address the whole set of platforms, then the customer has to accommodate to address the backup and recovery needs," he says. Martin also boasts about the product's specifically dense Linux support, including support for MySQL and Postgre, as part of a bolstered manageability that makes backup software worth considering.
"For the most part, you get what you pay for in tape," Gartner's Allen says. In his view, Fujifilm is the current leader in tape itself, with Imation a close second. Fujifilm's focus on production is so refined, Allen says, that, instead of having a room for applying coater to the tape, they have an entire separate tape coater factory.
Allen describes a problem at BASF Media that meant leaving the market in shambles for its derivative M-Tech. "Essentially, they had a process problem that they didn't know about, and they shipped tape incorrectly made for two years," he says. "After a little while in the market, they started to develop severe problems."
Allen's anecdotes apply to the backup selection process overall. When coming up with a backup plan, first ensure that you are dealing with reputable vendors that have made serious, dedicated research and development efforts to the backing up process. Also, play the price/features game wisely. You don't want to cut features off of your must-have list, only to discover you chose wrong at the moment it matters most — when your system crashes and you need the tape. Finally, make sure that your backup vendors offer more advanced options, like NAS/SAN backups, backup automation, and disk-to-disk-to-tape. This will help ensure that as your data center evolves, it will continue to grow with your vendor.
Story courtesy of Server Watch