Data explosion forcing IT to seek new backup tools

Managers must carefully consider the consequences of quickly switching vendors to get the right technology.

The frequency of ineffective backups led Bar-S employees to copy sensitive business data to nonsecured thumb drives and external storage drives, creating significant security issues, McEldowney said.

Even though Bar-S was paying yearly maintenance fees, he said, the CommVault support staff didn't return phone calls for help or assist with installing updates of the Galaxy software.

Further, he said Galaxy lacked a strong centralized- management tool and had trouble enabling remote tape backups if the main data center went offline.

"It was a wonderful relationship until we paid the bill and bought the software," said McEldowney.

Bar-S runs two storage-area networks (SAN) with 4TB apiece in a virtualized Windows Server and Red Hat Linux environment.

McEldowney said he still keeps a small instance of Galaxy running just to ensure that off-site backup tapes that weren't switched over during the transfer process can still be read.

Dave West, vice president of worldwide marketing and business development at CommVault, said that several large companies use Galaxy "in just the way" Bar-S did, and they haven't had any difficulties. He called the Bar-S criticism a "rare exception rather than the norm."

Ohio State University's communications office said it had a similar experience with EMC's Retrospect backup software because of what school officials called stagnant updates and crude performance.

Wayne Tolliver, a departmental systems manager, said the communications office abandoned the EMC product for Atempo's Time Navigator 4.2 backup tool in mid-2007.

The office, which handles Web content, print and live video production for the university, installed Retrospect in 2004 after it adopted an Apple-based storage and server infrastructure.

Tolliver said that Retrospect development "languished" after EMC acquired its maker, Dantz Development, later in 2004.

He contended that promises that EMC made to support updated Apple products went unfulfilled, and that IT personnel were forced to work around Apple upgrades, such as Mac OS X v10.4 (code-named Tiger), which was released in 2005.

An EMC official confirmed that the last major update to Retrospect for Mac was in late 2005 but noted that the company last month released its first Retrospect Mac client that runs natively on Intel-based Apple processors.

"What drove us from Retrospect was lack of innovation," said Tolliver. "Our environment kept experiencing growth, and users wanted more features for backup. We just couldn't provide it. Keeping the lights on with Retrospect was becoming impossible."

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