EMC is releasing the latest version of Data Protection Advisor (DPA) today, version 5.5
DPA has been with EMC for a while now, and it is one of those quiet little overachievers that probably doesn't get the recognition it deserves. One big reason for that is the chronic perception of backup as the most unwanted, and unloved, discipline in the IT organization. And it can be hard enough for backup folks to get funding for infrastructure and software, never mind a piece of software that is (in some senses) secondary to the whole process: software that monitors and reports on backup.
For better or worse however, this stuff is important. Simply put, the native reporting capabilities of most backup applications is not good.
As a result, most backup admins--and their organizations--benefit a lot from software that helps them monitor, report, trouble shoot, do trend analysis and so on. What is maybe not clear is just how much this stuff can help: we have found that it is often the case that DPA is so helpful that it pays for itself in a year or less. DPA can save so much administrative time and effort that it cost justifiable in a very short time frame.
But what has been added in v5.5?
- First and foremost, replication support. DPA can now monitor and report replication operations on Symmetrix (V-Max), Clariion, and RecoverPoint appliances. This is an interesting step, as it takes DPA out of its traditional role as purely a backup tool, and towards being true to its name: being a comprehensive data protection monitoring and reporting tool. Replication status is monitored for completeness, and you can report on the level of adherence to SLA agreements that the replication is meeting (or, failing to...). Even better, this can be viewed from an application perspective: it is not just what LUNs are replicating, successfully or not, and in how long, and what the associated link status is, it is what applications are successfully replicating in a consistent state. Which is a pretty critical distinction for data protection; it is the difference between being able to restore a LUN, and being able to restart your application.
- Secondly, integration with vCenter. This allows DPA to report on the protection status of VMs.
- Third, deduplication reporting with Data Domain appliances. No more ambiguity (for the backup admin) on how much deduplication is actually being achieved. Now, admittedly, this was already very easy to understand with the Data Domain appliances, but this brings the functionality into DPA, and therefore centralizes backup intelligence. Data Domain, Avamar, and NetWorker data are all gathered at a central repository, and can be viewed in a unified reporting environment.
- Also new for Data Domain is the capability to monitor and report on the physical components of Data Domain systems, such as power, temperature, fan status and so on.
- Finally, we should note that the effort of transitioning to the private cloud will also be eased with DPA as it includes new expanded capabilities around chargeback reporting: DPA can report on the amount of physical resources consumed for various processes, such as replication and deduplication. Meaning that the department or user that consumes 2/3 of the resource can be charged for 2/3 of the resource; the user that consumes but 1/3 only needs to pay for that share.
If you are interested, you can learn more about DPA here.