EMC is set to release a product that aims to provide its customers with up-to-date information on the status of their backups. The company claimed that Legato Backup Advisor will help IT departments better meet their service level agreements (SLAs) with different parts of their enterprise as well as meeting any data compliance regulations.

It takes backup one stage further. Currently, products will say whether files have been backed up or not. Backup Advisor will tell IT administrators whether there any business implications of backup failure - this could include failure to meet SLA requirements.

As SLAS are not written at a file level and thousands of files can be backed up in a large datacentre, it can be a time-consuming process to determine how SLAs could be affected by a single failure. There is also no help from backup applications with trending information on backup resource usage, leading to surprises when backups get slowed because of network choking.

EMC is reselling software from WysDM, which recently changed its name from SysDM. The software, also called WysDM, reports on backups to admin staff and provides detailed backup analysis information including predicted resource usage. Policies can also be set to govern data protection activities.

This new layer of software is called Data Protection Management or DPM. WysDM claimed: "WysDM for Backups gathers and correlates performance and configuration information from enterprise-wide elements such as backup servers and software, tape libraries and drives, storage applications, servers, network devices and storage arrays. (It) consolidates performance ... and utilisation information from all these assets, highlighting bottlenecks and taking immediate action as problems arise."

Brad O'Neil, a senior analyst and consultant for the Taneja Group, said: "Enterprises recognise that it's no longer sufficient to merely perform backups on data - they must have some assurance that the data will be available should a recovery process be necessary. At a basic level, WysDM takes the guesswork out of backups; but with its unique, comprehensive product portfolio, WysDM definitely has a leg up in the DPM market and is well positioned to take advantage of this burgeoning market opportunity."

WysDM, and competing DPM suppliers such as Bocada, Tek-Tools, Crosswalk and ServerGraph have realised that existing backup applications don't provide enough information about backup progress and resource use. Their own products take the basic reports and add in more intelligence.

They hope that once customers realise what they are missing and how much easier and better the DPM products make things they will wonder how they ever did without them.

Competing backup vendors such as Symantec-Veritas, IBM, CA and many others will all, if this is right, have to strike up deals like EMC has, or buy DPM technology. These alternatives will be much quicker than developing the technology themselves.