Backup Evolution

imageBackup technology has been a part of my world for a long time.  As a child, I went to the office to change the tapes at night with mum in the early 80’s. I used to drive her nuts, hiding in printers, rearranging peoples desks, collecting highlighters and post it notes.

I laugh now, but back then, the shift finished when the backup finished. And that could drag on when technical problems came up and little me got bored.

Did I mentioned the mess those tapes got into?

By the late 90’s I’d become an engineer and my own professional backup experiences had begun.  Starting out with the simple stuff, and progressing to the point of knowing how to create and support complex backup solutions that ignored the need to have their own protection and recovery taken care of.

When not implementing D2D capable products, I spent a lot of time working with Double-Take to enhance the simpler systems often shifting original data offsite then backing up.  I trained with a great architect in Paris who inspired me to work harder and offer clients and employers a wider variety of solution design.

What imageI believe in, is the importance of designing backup solutions that actually work; are tested and get tested again as regularly as is sensible and realistic.  Of course the harsh truth is this is often far from what I find.

Getting it right at project time includes the reality that you may need permanently another team member to get your backup and recovery plans in true shape.

I’m sure many reading this would admit backups are someone else’s job!  No matter who’s job it is, when the tape hits the fan its the whole department or business that could suffer.

Microsoft’s Data Protection Manager 2010

These days I like to work with Microsoft’s latest version of Data Protection Manager which I’ll refer to herein as DPM. DPM is an evolving product that’s relatively easy to use.  It fits the Microsoft workloads like a glove and that’s a key advertising point made by Microsoft.

As well as the technical details there are strategic benefits of using DPM to protect the likes of Exchange, SQL and Hyper-V hosts.  One key benefit is that “who you going to call” thing.

imageI have spent many nights on the phone trying to get answers from up to 3 vendors catering for a single protection solution.  If you hear me quoting “Simplicity” I don’t actually mean product, I mean life the universe and everything!  Mine is complex so I don’t want spend more time on a support call than it takes to design the backups in the first place.

With DPM and Microsoft applications I can rely on Microsoft, to go figure out what’s wrong more so than another vendor.  Other vendors may ultimately tell me to talk to Microsoft anyway!  After all its Windows and Windows applications I am backing up.

Evolving datacentres

The world of technology is moving quickly and it’s often hard to keep up. It’s something of a challenge to both the newcomers and the old timers.  Being responsible for many complex systems requires regular decision making on procurement, training and of course budget.  When this is a fine art then allocation of time is often the bit nobody can resolve.

With the transition to the Virtual datacentre and many mature applications having their own protection mechanisms we have more to consider.  Designing a modern strategy will need to take into account the new technologies.  Last year I read “Data Protection for Virtual Datacentres” by Jason Buffington, Jason is a Senior Technical Product Manager with Microsoft System Center.

imageThe book helps the reader understand the industry, planning, cost analysis, high-availability, data protection, systems management, Hyper-V, Exchange and SQL best practices and a whole lot more.  It is recommended reading across a broad audience, if you interested to know more the books website is online here with a downloadable chapter.

Out of interest if you’re go to MMS and are considering a backup solution or just need entertaining? Make a point of attending a DPM session with Jason, he is a great speaker and has answers to tough questions.

Not sure I have any tough questions but perhaps given a chance I can ask some in French and see how that works out Smile

Other solutions

There is of course much more to DPM and some super partner offerings; for example take a good look at i365’s Evault for DPM here.  In summary they offer a cross platform solution to protect both Microsoft and other workloads for those heterogeneous environments.

There’s inStavia’s dBeamer for DPM, well worth a review here. dBeamer transforms Microsoft DPM into a central component of a High-Availability-On-Demand infrastructure.


After all these years of juggling disks, networks and tapes I can still take time to read a book on the subject and make time to go and learn more.  I will be in Las Vegas soon, at the Microsoft Management Summit. I’m making a point to find out where the systems management evolution is taking us.

I’ve already attended most DPM sessions at TechEd but here’s some I’ll look forwards to at the summit.

BB36 System Center Data Protection Manager 2010: Help, the Datacentre is Down… Let’s Restore

BB18 A First Look at Data Protection Manager 2012


This is the critical part of technology evolution. Moaning and making workarounds is temporary. When  you know better or want something different,tell the people who write the products you work with and  you may get the feature you need.


The bottom line? Look after the crown jewels (your assets)… With System Center obviously.

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Email
Posted on March 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm by Ronnie · Permalink
In: Data Protection Manager, Events, System Center General · Tagged with: 

One Response

Subscribe to comments via RSS

  1. Written by » Techies in the 80’s
    on August 11, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    […] Earlier this year I wrote an article on my virtualisation blog about my history and some technical experiences called Backup Evolution  […]

Subscribe to comments via RSS