WysDM offers a smart way to manage backup applications

No more excuses for incomplete restores: WysDM manages multiple backup applications in one UI

Large enterprises, with dozens or hundreds of servers and hundreds or thousands of workstations may have many different backup products in operation. Realistically, it’s not feasible to monitor each separate app to ensure backups are completing properly, in the allotted time, and that the finished backup is the expected size.

WysDM for Backups 3.51 is an enterprise-oriented backup reporting tool that aims to change that. It interfaces with a large variety of backup applications, including EMC/Legato NetWorker, HP DataProtector, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, NetApp SnapVault, Oracle RMAN, Veritas BackupExec, and Veritas NetBackup to provide reports across multiple backup applications and servers. It puts excellent reporting, alarm functionality, and historical trending and analysis tools into a dashboard that consolidates all backup information, as well as information for monitoring SAN switches, tape libraries, and storage arrays for proper behavior.

The WysDM for Backups server installs on a variety of OS platforms and supports data collectors on HP-UX, IBM AIX, Linux, Solaris, and Windows. I tested the installation on a Windows 2003 Server system and installed collectors on Windows and Linux systems.

Server installation requires a database and Web server. On Windows, it’s Microsoft SQL Server 2000 or 2005, or the lightweight, free MSDE (Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine) and IIS. In Windows-only environments, you may access the server through the Microsoft Management Console or browser. On other platforms, supported databases are the ones you’d expect: Oracle on Solaris; PostgreSQL on Linux.

Data-collector software can be installed on each system that is running backups, or one collector can gather data from systems that are running backups in an agentless mode. Although this is less intrusive and doesn’t require that software be deployed to each system, data gathered in agentless mode may be less complete because the types of data available through the OS or backup app vary widely. For instance, in my tests the agent tracked not only whether a backup job had been completed but how far along it was when it failed. The agentless version could only say whether the job had been completed.

Setting up the data collectors and connecting them to the WysDM server is a straightforward, quick process. WysDM interfaces with Active Directory and other LDAP services to easily assign report-creation and -viewing rights to various users or groups.

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WysDM has three main functions: It allows authorized users to access current and historical reports via the Web browser or MMC; it sends scheduled reports via e-mail; and it sends alerts if alarm thresholds are exceeded. In addition to monitoring backups on the supported platforms, WysDM can monitor a variety of OS parameters on Windows servers, SAN switches, iSCSI devices, tape libraries, and storage arrays (check here for the long list of supported apps and devices).

The historical trending feature will show its worth only over time, but it can be highly valuable. Showing trends in percentage of tape used on each cartridge, how many backups fail in a week, backup device utilization, percentage of backup window in use (if you run backups only at particular times), and so forth are all invaluable tools to proactively identify and fix issues.

WysDM integrates well with other management apps. For example, it will send XML or SNMP traps to other applications with alerts or historical data. It can also launch other applications, such as a SAN switch management app, from the WysDM GUI, so you can fix problems without switching applications.

Given the potential downsides to not meeting backup targets for disaster recovery or regulatory compliance, any organization with a complex backup infrastructure should consider a tool such as WysDM. I was very impressed with Version 3.51: It offers a 30,000-foot view of backup operations, along with the ability to easily drill down to find and fix problems before they cost the company big money.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Manageability (25.0%)
Setup (20.0%)
Value (10.0%)
Ease of use (20.0%)
Performance (25.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
WysDM for Backups 3.51 9.0 8.0 8.0 8.0 9.0 8.5