The Benefits of Data Backup Reporting
When you put in money into your account with any given bank, you expect some privileges in return, other than just safeguarding and letting you take out your money. You expect to be made aware of any activity in your account—details such as time and source when any amount was put in, or taken out; the balance that you have. Considering data backup services and products to be banks that store data, you should expect the same extended capabilities from them. Rather than being comforted that your data is backed up regularly and effectively, you need to search for provisions that update you on the current activities and status of the backup system.
Data backup reporting through comprehensive monitoring can help organizations gauge the efficiency of backup systems. The gained insights in turn can help implement modifications to the backup system for higher efficiency. For example, identifying bottlenecks that suggest infrastructure upgrade, changing backup time to leverage lower network usage, and replacing almost used up storage mediums. These solutions tap into the logs of the existent backup software of an organization, monitor the system and generate reports on the backup processes of the organization. This sums up into the efficiency that allows an administrator to devote more time in managing errors and infrastructure issues, rather than trouble shooting.
More importantly, in the absence of data backup reporting tools one would have to write numerous shell or batch scripts, or log in to servers every time a need for backup details arises; and if there are multiple backup services/products in use within one organization, which is common these days, the problem is amplified.
What to look for
While most backup solutions are good at what they are intended to, many loose the edge when it comes to reporting capabilities. The capabilities are completely absent, or not user friendly. In such an event don’t switch over to an all new backup solution; try fishing for third party backup reporting products that can save a lot of resources and get the job done. Although not restricted, look out for the following criteria during your search.
Real-time notifications: An essential feature in backup reporting tools is the availability of real-time notification capabilities such as success/failure notifications and threshold alerts. Real-time notifications can be very helpful in taking corrective or subsequent steps at the time of an incidence.
Backup completion status: Although this functionality is basic to all, look out for the ability to track the history of backup successes or failures. This functionality can be helpful for service level agreement (SLA) reviews and audits.
Growth measurement and capacity planning: This functionality allows one to keep a tab on all the data stored and processed, that can be leveraged to extrapolate on growth trends and take pre-emptive capacity decisions.
Failures history: Being able to view backup failures at file level or system object level can help identify specific patterns of repeated failures. Trouble shooting, that may be configuration modification or adopting advanced backup feature becomes, much easier.
Here are a few products that can be helpful: Aptare Inc.'s Storage Console, EMC Corp.'s Data Protection Advisor, Rocket Software Inc.'s Servergraph. Symantec Corp.'s Veritas Backup Reporter, Tek-Tools Software's Storage Profiler.
Although, some data backup solutions come with in-built reporting capabilities, another approach is consulting the vendor to check if they could provide reporting features as add-on to their primary backup solutions. Data backup reporting might not seem as an essential investment, but viewing the growing significance of data, considering it as a future-proofing step around all the possible data avenues is a wise decision.