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.

GDPR and Your Data Protection Operations

Does your organization offer goods or services within the EU, monitor EU residents’ behaviors or have any type of physical or virtual presence in the EU? If so, you’re likely subject to the General Data Protection Regulation, more commonly called GDPR.

Adopted in 2016, GDPR becomes enforceable as of May 25, 2018 and governs data protection and privacy for individuals within the EU. While it aims to simplify international business by consolidating regulations within the EU, it represents a new level of regulatory burden for data protection and storage operations in the region.

Below are the specific GDPR provisions that impact storage and backup administrators, and suggestions about how you can keep your backup processes in sync with GDPR rules.

GDPR PROVISIONS & THEIR IMPACT ON BACKUP & STORAGE

In its aim to protect the rights of individuals over their data, GDPR include several key articles that have direct implications for data storage, storage visibility, and reporting on storage activities.

Article 4 Definitions

What It Says “For the purposes of this Regulation: (1) ‘personal data’ means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person…”

What It Means For Backup Article 4 broadens the definitions usually associated with a customer’s or user’s personal information making it that much more important for organizations to have their finger on exactly what is being collected about each and every user, know where the information is stored, ensure that they have the space to store it, and have the policies in place to delete it.

To determine if your environment is prepared for the additional onslaught of data brought on by Article 4, ask yourself if you have:

  • Access to backed-up customer or user information across geographies, even if it’s outside of EU territory.
  • The right retention policies in place to assure no more personal data is retained than is absolutely required by the needs of the business.

Article 17 Right of Erasure

What It Says “The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning him or her without undue delay and the controller shall have the obligation to erase personal data without undue delay…”

What It Means For Backup Article 17 forces organizations to be able to pinpoint a user’s data across their entire backup environment so that it can be deleted in its entirety, no matter where it exists.

To determine if your backup storage and processes can meet Article 17’s guidelines, ask yourself if your current backup protocols let you:

  • Know if information has been duplicated and, if so, where duplicative data lives across your backup environment.
  • Assess if information is stored on-prem, in the cloud, or both.
  • Determine if legacy data is stored in vaults or on tape.
  • Provide sufficient reporting or documentation to verify that data has been erased.

Article 32 Security of Processing

What It Says “…The controller and the processor shall implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk, including inter alia as appropriate: a) the pseudonymisation and encryption of personal data; b) the ability to ensure the ongoing confidentiality, integrity, availability and resilience of processing systems and services; c) the ability to restore the availability and access to personal data in a timely manner in the event of a physical or technical incident; (d) a process for regularly testing, assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of technical and organisational measures for ensuring the security of the processing.

What It Means For Backup Article 32 directly tells organizations that all backed up personal data must be encrypted. Additionally, not only must they be able to restore data in the event that it becomes deleted or corrupted but they must also have a process in place for assessing how effective that restoration process really is (e.g. data audits).

To determine if your backup storage and processes can meet Article 32’s provisions, ask yourself if your existing procedures:

  • Let you see if data is successfully backed up across your entire backup environment.
  • Ensure easy pinpointing of backup failures for quick troubleshooting.
  • Alert you when critical data fails to backup up correctly.
  • Make it simple to report on the efficacy of your backup efforts and your backup health to internal and external stakeholders.
  • Allow you to quickly respond to information requests related to backed up data.

GETTING YOU GDPR READY

GDPR offers value to end users and consumers by giving them greater control over their personal information. However, in doing so, it adds extra work and complexity for data protection organizations, further stressing your already time-pressed teams.

For teams looking to balance existing protocols with new regulations, automating backup and backup reporting activities can be an effective way to minimize the time needed to stay compliant while effectively overseeing your backup space. When considering tools to automate your activities, consider only those that:

  • Ensure compliance with data sovereignty laws
  • Enable reporting across your entire suite of backup software solutions
  • Consolidate monitoring under a single pane
  • Reduce or remove manual reporting and script writing
  • Function across a full spectrum of backup storage destinations
  • Aggregate backup activities across business functions, business units, and geographies
  • Provide details on stored data at the target, client and server levels
  • Provide audit reporting for any time in the history of your operations

If you’re preparing your backup environment to be GDPR compliant, we encourage you to schedule time for a personal demo of the Bocada’s data protection reporting and monitoring capabilities. When tested in your native backup environment, you’ll see right away how much time you’ll save staying on top of GDPR compliance activities.