The Automation Business Case For Backup Reporting & Monitoring

Automating backup reporting is known to save countless labor hours and drive material operational efficiencies for IT Operations organizations. However, the decision to move to an automated solution, rather than staying the course with a manual solution, usually hinges on cost and the return on investment, or ROI. IT Enterprise teams are increasingly asked to expand their responsibilities while also capturing cost-savings. At the onset, an IT automation software solution can sound like more overhead cost.

This perspective is grossly shortsighted.

In fact, there are three key areas—data collection and reporting, ticketing and troubleshooting, and data loss—where relying on an automated solution for data protection, reporting, and oversight means a better work experience for your team and a better bottom-line for your business.

1. Data Collection & Reporting

An automated reporting solution like Bocada dramatically cuts down the time spent on scripting and parameter configuration, data formatting and visualization, developing ad hoc reports for key stakeholders, and preparing monthly reports and communications. In fact, in some cases it makes these activities completely irrelevant.

Consider an enterprise backup environment with ten servers. Organizations using native backup tools to tackle monthly reporting can spend over 1,100 hours per month on these recurring tasks. This can seem extremely high, but it’s standard when you consider the breadth of recurring reporting, like daily operational reports, audit and compliance reports, and policy reports that backup administrators regularly create.

Monthly Costs - Manual vs Automated Backup Reporting

In contrast, an automated reporting solution like Bocada cuts these labor hours down to just under 250 hours per month, largely driven by drastically minimizing the time taken on manual data pulls, data normalization, and report creation and distribution. On an annual basis, enterprises can save over $600,000 in labor costs on data collection and reporting alone.

Of course, if your enterprise has more than three servers, or is relying on a mix of cloud and on-prem backup solutions, the time associated with manual reporting is even greater.

2. Ticketing & Troubleshooting

While day-to-day backup monitoring represents the largest cost-savings opportunity, backup reporting automation also presents a significant ROI when it comes to ticketing and troubleshooting.

An enterprise with 5,000 backup clients in its environment can require 200 hours per month on the standard activities required to fix failed backup jobs. This results from having to manually review backup logs to isolate failures, examine data to look for broader failure trends, create support tickets, and re-run reporting to ensure jobs are now running successfully.

Backup Reporting Ticketing & Troubleshooting

Organizations with automated reporting spend only 50 hours a week on the same activity. For instance, Bocada’s Job Trends Report and Consecutive Failures Report make it easy to pinpoint failed jobs from the previous day as well as visualize trends behind the groups of larger failure rates. Additionally, selecting a solution that automatically opens support tickets in ticketing software like ServiceNow immediately removes that manual component from anyone’s day-to-day responsibilities.

Annualized, this represents over $100,000 in direct labor cost savings. It also drastically frees up your team to work on higher-value, strategic projects.

3. Data Loss

Automating reporting and oversight also represents a way to minimize expenses associated with data loss and failed recovery events. Bundling the typical costs associated with data loss—lost productivity as well as SLA and regulatory fees—is upwards of $250,000 per year for an organization.

Backup Reporting - Data Loss ROI

However, with the more comprehensive and real-time oversight of  your backup performance across backup products and geographies provided by reporting automation, backup admins can more easily pinpoint data recovery risks. Jumping on those issues before they result in actual data loss is a major cost saving to your organization…as well as a major reputational savings!

The ROI For Your Backup Environment

As backup environment complexity increases, the ROI story only becomes richer. Some organizations are straddling legacy storage on disk and tape while transitioning to the cloud for more cost efficient and accessible storage. Meanwhile, others are hampered by data sovereignty concerns and forced to manage backup performance in unique segments or geographies. Additionally, enterprises with a history of mergers and acquisitions often have a unique patchwork of solutions in their backup environment.

Leaving IT Operations teams to manually maneuver these complex waters will leave major holes in your data protection and recovery plan. Oversight weakens and those tasked with managing this oversight are taxed and overwhelmed.

As you consider the ROI of automating your reporting, consider automation solutions that:

  • Reduce or remove the need for manual reporting and script writing
  • Support reporting on cloud, disk, tape, and on-prem storage solutions
  • Normalize data from assorted backup products and media types under a single-pane
  • Support data visualization, analytics and reporting customization
  • Automate recurring manual processes including report creation and distribution
  • Automate support tickets in your ticketing platforms

The more of these features your solution leverages, the greater your own ROI story will be. To explore how much your organization can save by using Bocada, contact our team at sales@bocada.com for free trial.

Key RMAN Backup Oversight Tools

With recurring feedback from enterprises, and the MSPs that support them, that their environments frequently included RMAN backup for Oracle databases, reporting on RMAN backups became a standard in the Bocada offering. After all, holistic data protection oversight means having a complete view of each and every backup activity, no matter which type of backup product they run on.

By combining historical and in-progress backup activity under a single pane, Bocada’s RMAN plugin offers backup admins a unified, systemic approach to safeguarding their complex environments.

Historical Backup Activity

Key to compliance or audit oversight, and showing that you’ve been managing backups correctly, is clearly seeing your past backup activity. RMAN backups can be viewed through many of Bocada’s key reports, including:

  • Job Trends Report: Enjoy a high-level view of your RMAN backup successes and failures. By isolating just RMAN backup activity, and selecting key criteria like location, clients, or targets, you can quickly hone in on backups that need your attention.
  • Backup Activity Report: View a host of information about your RMAN backups including backup success, job duration, byte count, backup level, policy, and much more. Using this report’s tabular functionality lets you customize RMAN oversight to align with your particular business needs.
  • Consecutive Failures Report: Pinpoint repeated RMAN backup failures. By using our Consecutive Failures Report, you can see just those backups that failed over a recurring range of time, letting you quickly isolate backups that need immediate attention.
  • SLA Trends: Stay ahead of your service level goals. By tracking RMAN backup performance to your SLAs, you can get ahead of failure issues so that you can meet, if not exceed, your objectives.

As with all Bocada plugins, you’ll be instantly alerted when a critical RMAN backup fails. By setting up automated email alerts for your most important backups, you can stay ahead of failures that really impact recoverability rates.

In-Progress Backups

While good oversight includes being able to report on past performance, staying head of issues means also monitoring in-progress activity. That’s why our RMAN plugin includes in-progress job reporting as well.

In two of our newest reports, you’ll have visibility into RMAN backup performance before the data collection cycle is even complete.

  • In Progress Job Trends: Enjoy historical and in progress activity in one single report. You’ll be able to see RMAN backups that occurred over time, as well as in-progress backups that are succeeding, may fail, or are currently running.
  • In Progress Jobs Report: Isolate in-progress RMAN backups. This report helps you understand which jobs are still running so you can quickly see how your most critical backups are performing.

If you’re managing a complex backup environment with multiple backup product servers, schedule a free trial of Bocada’s data protection platform. With our support of RMAN and nearly twenty other backup reporting products, you can oversee your entire environment from a single source, reducing overhead, cost, and risk – and freeing up your team for higher impact activities.

Data Protection Is Going to The Cloud

When we plan our product roadmaps, at the forefront of our minds is the question, “What can we do to make our customers’ lives easier?” Backup administrators, systems architects, and everyone involved in IT Operations are entrusted with protecting critical data…yet they have so much on their plates that keeping their heads above water is not easy.

It’s keeping this everyday reality fresh in our minds that has made 2018 The Year Of The Cloud for Bocada. No, we aren’t hopping on the latest IT bandwagon. Far from it. We know that moving backup data, and data protection, to the cloud is good for organizations and it’s good for the people that manage those organizations’ data. As a result, when organizations are ready to migrate their data protection to the cloud, we will be ready and able to keep track of it.

The Organizational Benefits of Backup Data In The Cloud

Nearly anyone following the conversation about cloud migration has read about the very clear cost benefits that come from less hardware, scalable infrastructures, and reduced planning and administration.

1. Hardware Costs One of the most concrete benefits of moving backup data to the cloud is the clear financial upside. You no longer have to pay for expensive capital investments in servers and on- and off-site infrastructure to store data for years on end. With hardware off your plate, you no longer need real estate to house bulky servers, electricity to power your systems and keep them cool, industrial-scale backup generators, or hurricane-rated structures.

This means capital expenditures are drastically reduced. All that hardware and infrastructure drawing cash resources is taken off the books. Instead, migrating data storage to the cloud means shifting it to operating expense, something that can be scaled higher or lower according to the natural seasons of your business. Money is used more efficiently and your bottom line stays protected.

2. Scalable, Efficient Infrastructure Cloud storage scales with your business, which means saying goodbye to paying for storage upfront that you may not use for months or even years to come. Instead, you can ratchet storage up or down, paying for only what you need when you need it. Your data storage usage becomes more efficient which translates directly to storage cost savings.

3. Reduced Overhead Redundancy When you’re concerned about protecting your servers from ransomware or natural disasters in an on-prem world, you have to buy backup servers offsite, sometimes in multiple locations. All those costs we mentioned earlier to cover infrastructure, real estate, and utilities are now multiplied many times over. You get data protection, but at a very hefty price. Going to the cloud means you can rely on others to provide that redundancy for you…at a cost and scale that’s good for your business.

The People Benefits of Backup Data In The Cloud

While the cost benefits are often the most talked about benefits of cloud-based data storage, the often unsung benefit is the value to IT Operations Managers. Saddled with ever-growing data, limited resources, and increased external data threats, these employees are hard-pressed to keep it all running. Yet, they are the backbone of making organizations run smoothly during times of technology crises. Moving data storage and protection to the cloud changes this game.

1. Efficient Workflows Picture a server farm. Now picture the amount of effort it takes to get that set up. Now add in doing that at multiple locations for intentionally-redundant backup storage. Wouldn’t one-click deployment be better?

With cloud-based data storage, the speed to set up the storage needed to support a multinational organization’s backup data becomes so much quicker. Mindless labor and configuration time gets wiped out so your team gets to work on more interesting projects.

2. Empowered Workers The bulk of enterprise organizations span across country borders. Yet on-premises data protection runs against this, often forcing locally-run, regional data protection.

Cloud-based data storage turns this paradigm around, making oversight truly global. Your team members can recover data no matter where they or the data resides, and no matter what device they’re using. Giving that level of visibility and control to your team members is empowering, and affords them the responsibility aligned with the value they bring to your organization.

3. Focused, Strategic Activities Consider everything being asked of IT Ops teams: manage servers and infrastructure for real-time usage, short-term backup, and long-term storage; keep data storage in line with industry or government regulations; address auditor requests for documentation; ensure that data is actually being backed up successfully; run security patches; upgrade to the latest versions, etc. It’s no wonder IT Operations teams feel taxed. No one can be an expert at all these things, yet IT Ops is being stretched to do more with less to cover all these areas.

Moving storage to the cloud reduces complexity and shortens the to-do list. It allows cloud storage providers, who have a vested interest in high availability at a low cost, to do what they do best. In turn, it allows IT teams time to turn their attention to more valuable projects that can contribute to the bottom line and make them strategic rather than costly overhead.

A Hybrid-Cloud World That Needs Data Protection

The stars are clearly aligning and pointing in one direction: data backup and data protection is going to the cloud. That means everyone committed to helping organizations safeguard their data needs to be there too.

Will we will still support tape and on-premises backup? Absolutely!

Bocada is prepared for a hybrid-cloud world, one where enterprises juggle legacy backup media types while embracing new cloud platforms. We know data protection isn’t going anywhere. On the contrary. The uptick in major cyberattacks and natural disasters points to its increasing importance. So long as critical data lives across different systems, Bocada is dedicated to giving IT teams the platform they need to simplify data protection across their complex environments.

As we move into the back-half of 2018, get ready to see more and more releases focused on cloud backup protection. Your enterprise may not be migrating data backup to the cloud just yet. But when you do, you can be assured Bocada will be ready to help you keep it safe and secure.

Isolating Missed & Recurring Data Backup Job Failures

Backup jobs fail due to a variety of reasons. However, when backups fail on a recurring basis, or just stop running at all, it can be cause for even greater concern. Not only does it represent days’ worth of data that cannot be restored but it can also mean that you have a systemic fault with the environment or with operational processes.

This is where Bocada’s Consecutive Failures Report can save you countless hours of oversight time. By helping you easily isolate backups that failed over a recurring set of days, or backups that did not run at all, our Consecutive Failures Report highlights those backup jobs most in need of your attention. Further, by enabling easy filtering by error type, server, or a whole host of relevant variables, this report makes it easy to aggregate issues and zoom-in on underlying failure causes.

Come see how our Consecutive Failures Report can take you from an ad-hoc, job-fixing process to a streamlined, systemic approach to backup job failure correction.

Unprotected Virtual Machine (VM) Detection & Monitoring

Creating a virtual machine (VM) today is so fast and simple that it can be all too easy to let them go unprotected. With stakeholders or teams outside of the storage group spinning them up or down as organization needs require, backup admins are often left unaware that they were created, let alone that they are not being backed up.

But leaving VMs unprotected can leave your organization’s data in a precarious place. From malicious cyber attacks and ransomware to something as innocuous as re-purposing servers, there are a whole host of ways that vital data stored on VMs can disappear. Not only could this mean countless hours of lost productivity for internal departments but it could also mean you’ll be faced with stiff penalties for not complying with policies and regulations.

This is where Bocada’s VM Protection Analysis Report can be a great automation tool for your storage and backup teams. By accessing your vCenter(s) Bocada’s software can generate a list of all current and new VMs in your environment. It then compares those results to your backup applications’ image-level backup activity. The result is an easy way to assess if your VMs are properly assigned to backup applications and being backed up successfully, or if they are unscheduled or unassigned and therefore unprotected.

In the screenshot below, you’ll see that it’s easy to identify VMs that are assigned to backup servers. If the VM has a server assigned to it, that server’s name will appear in the Backup Server column. Further, by looking at the Last Backup Success column, you’ll be able to see the last day the VM was successfully backed up.

VM Protection Analysis - Assigned

However, it’s possible that VMs are assigned, but that the backups are not successful. Our VM Protection Analysis Report lets you see if this is the case. In the screenshot below, you’ll see VMs that are assigned, but that have a null value in the Last Backup Success column. This is a signal to backup admins to explore the underlying cause of these backup failures.

VM Virtual Machine Protection - Failed Backups

There’s also the likely scenario that VMs have been created in your environment but they are going unprotected. When you see the value “Unassigned” under the Backup Server column, you’ll be able to see immediately where this is the case.

VM Virtual Machine Protection Unassigned

VMs offer your organization the storage and CPU capacity flexibility once never thought possible. But, it’s that very same flexibility that leaves your data at risk for corruption or deletion.

How likely is it that you have unprotected VMs in your environment? For a snapshot of your VMs, and how well they are or aren’t protected, try Bocada’s VM Protection Analysis Report. Available in Bocada today at no additional cost, this report gives you a key tool to isolate at-risk data and proactively get ahead of potential issues.