Backup redesign: A top priority for IT managers (Part 3)

This is the conclusion of a three-part conversation with Dr. Xin Wang, product manager for IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM). In part 1, Xin discussed what she has learned about the challenges IT managers are facing leading to the backup redesign movement. In part 2, she began discussing her near term plans for TSM. Let’s conclude the conversation:

The Line: It seems like there is lots to watch for in the VMware space. The final observation you made was about administrators. Say a little bit there.

Xin: The administration job is changing. Nobody has time to do anything they don’t need to be doing. We introduced a completely new approach to backup administration earlier this year with the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center. Soon we plan to make the administrator’s job even easier.

  • Deployment of a new backup server instance can be a task that requires expertise and customization. So we’re planning to remove the guesswork with blueprints for different sized configurations.
  • Auto deployment and configuration. This includes daily care and feeding of the backup repository, provisioning the protection of a new workload (client), monitoring status and activities, redriving failures and so on. We’re expanding the Operations Center.

The Line: Xin, it sounds like the near future holds some exciting possibilities for IT managers as they redesign their backup environments. Is there anything else you would like to mention that I missed?

Xin: Actually, yes. There’s one more really important thing. Whether an IT manager is sticking with traditional backup methods or redesigning with snapshots, VMware integration or one of the best practice blueprints, often times there is still a need to move some of those copies somewhere else for safe keeping. Think vaulting, offsite storage or disaster recovery. This can take time, use up network resources and result in a really large repository.

Since the days when TSM pioneered the idea of incremental forever backup, we’ve been leading the industry in data reduction to minimize strain on the environment. It’s one of the things that drive the economic savings we show in Butterfly studies. Soon we are planning some enhancements to our native client-side and server-side deduplication that will improve ingest capacity on the order of 10x. That’s 1,000 percent more deduplicated data each day! We plan to fold this capability into our new blueprints so IT managers can get the benefit right out of the box.

The Line: Nice! Xin, thank you for taking the time to share your insights with my readers.

If you have questions for Xin, please join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

3 Replies to “Backup redesign: A top priority for IT managers (Part 3)”

  1. We have been looking at new tools – we looked at VE for TSM and were not happy with the results – we found that the dynamic allocation of disks that we use for growing environments was incompatable with VE. I personally did not find VE for TSM ready for market when we looked at it a year and a half ago. I am interested in flash copy manager – however that is going to require a big outlay in storage ( SAN ) that should make our sales represnative happy. In my honest opinion Tivoli needs to make these products rock solid and I do not feel that they are yet. They need to give us the impression that we simply are not creating more work for ourselves.

    I fully agree that we are out growing the old model of putting a backup agent on a client – the servers are getting too big for this – on many servers we are seeing this and it appears that until there a problem with a restore – too much data to be restored in too short of time ( unrealistic SLA’s) – only the backup admins are making a fuss. The other problem that I am finding is that we have 1600+ tsm nodes to deal with and nine servers – three backup environments and that does not include data center infrastructure work – we are also working on our data center strategy for disaster recovery strategy. A lot of work which is good but not a lot of staff.

    I feel that within five years IBM / Tivoli may be selling a backup strategy but it will be drastically different than it is today.With the growth of data it will become less dependent on the server and more dependent on the actual storage. FCM is a move in the right direction,. The backup and recovery solution will become part of the storage. One other thing that needs to change is that the support staff at Tivoli needs to be smarter than the users – we all know how to Google an error code and in many cases that is what the first level support is giving us. I want to talk to a senior level person when I place a call and not someone that knows less than I do. When I was learning about setting up lan free pathing it was hard to find some who knew how to do it at Tivoli – this has changed but the problem has not gone away – so if you want me to use these new products I want knowledgable support when I place an incident with Tivoli.

    James Ruby


    1. James,

      Thanks for your comment, but it sounded like you have looked at TSM for Virtual Environments one and half years ago. We’ve focused our investment on virtual environments in the last two years, and had two more releases since mid 2011 which made TSM for VE a much better and improved product. In last year’s release we enhanced our integration with VMware’s vStorage APIs for Data Protection and Changed Block Tracking for incremental forever and content-aware backups. We already have large number of customers today with the latest TSM for VE in production and they are looking forward to the new features such as instant access/restore of the full VM and integrated application protection that will come out in the near future.

      I am glad to hear you think FCM is a move in the right direction to backup much bigger data. Storage hardware price/TB is becoming much cheaper now – that’s the economic driver to make snapshot technology more affordable today. If you are interested to learn more about how FCM works in the virtual environments, we can arrange a deep dive session separately. Support is always a very important part of the overall user experience. As we got smart users, we need our support staff to be even smarter about our products and capabilities.The good news is, the support team has been growing their experiences and is trained with the latest product capabilities, and it also helps as we have more customers adopting to the new product offering -:). Let us know if you run into any issues that we can improve your support experience.

      Thanks, Xin


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