WysDM is a data protection management vendor. CTO Jim McDonald describes the company and its offering. Martin Brown from the WysDM sales team also offered insights.

Another front in the storage resource management market has been opened up by DPM - data protection management - software vendors. One of these is WysDM. How did it start and what is it offering? We talked to Jim McDonald, WysDM's CTO, about this and about DPM in general

TW: Where has WysDM come from?
JM: Goldman Sachs Bank formed a storage group and we standardised on EMC. Then we set up a Storage Network business, offering storage as a service with EMC seed dollars. The dot com crash put paid to that. I left and joined four others, ex-EMC and Microsoft, as co-founders of WysDM. We focused on data protection management, backup reporting and analysis, with links to business policies.

There are five parts to this:-
- Data gathering
- Reporting
- Analysis - trend in tape usage, etc
- Relation to business policies, such as backing up Exchange servers once a day
- Process optimisation; how can we do more with backup? How can we continue to meet our business objectives?

TW: How is WysDM organised?
JM: WysDM has about thirty people. It's privately held and funded; there are no venture capitalists involved. We focussed on a very small problem (but) we go deep into the backup environment. The idea of having one tool do everything is okay but the tool only goes one inch deep. You need deep tools for specific problems. We're completely against storage frameworks.

MB: You're working in a stove pipe environment. Buy the best tool for the job.

TW: How is information gathering carried out?
JM: WysDM uses pre-programmed APIs. There are no standards here so it is on a product-by-product basis. We 'templatise' the information to provide something standard across the backup applications.

SM-S is mainly focussed on provisioning storage arrays. AppIQ (HP's Storage Essentials) wants to be comprehensive but knows it's got holes, such as performance information.

TW: Why don't backup vendors do this? Why do customers need more than backup vendor's reports?
JM: A backup vendor's own product is naturally focussed on its own operation. There are three major backup vendors in enterprises: IBM with TPM, EMC's Legato and Symantec's Veritas. CA's ArcServe is vanishing.

You don't see people merging backup environments. Customers don't see the point of integration. There is no consolidation.

For reporting we compete with the backup vendors, like EMC and Symantec. Each reports on its own products. But very, very few decent-sized companies have a single data protection product. So it is hard for them to obtain a single view (across the board) of its data protection activities.

TW: So customers cannot get deep reporting from a backup vendor covering a multi-vendor backup environment. Also WysDM's product looks at the whole backup application stack, from servers, applications, through storage networks to the storage libraries. A backup vendor's product report will focus just on a backup run. It won't be able to compare backup results with data protection SLA needs and use a predictive analysis engine to interpret results and suggest actual or potential bottlenecks in the infrastructure.

TW: Could you discuss your competition please?
JM: Bocada is the primary competitor. It has more market share. We think our product provides better business information and more.

Tavata is a minor player that does operational reporting (whereas) we do data protection management. None of these guys do analysis, business effects and process optimisation. We get details of all the IT elements involved in a backup process to get to the root cause of problems.

TW: Tell us more about what your product can do please.
JM: The analysis engine watches for events and conditions. If they occur then it sends out e-mail and/or pager alerts. Say backup fails three times in a row then an alert can be sent out to escalate the problem. We can measure RPO and RTO which is unique in the industry.

We can pick up mis-configuration of systems. We also do trend analysis and report against business policies for data protection. We monitor SLAs, retention policies and compliance. We note that Sarbox has increased the status of data protection (and made this information more pertinent).

TW: And process optimisation?
JM: This is a kind of holy grail. We don't do a huge amount today. For example, say the trend is for backup to go out past the end of the backup window, so we can indicate that the start time should be moved forward. We look at tape drive use across drives. If the NetBackup catalogue disk is running out of space, we could send an alert message, to AppIQ for example, and so square the circle. We aim to do more.

What we want to be able to do is to indicate application exposure and server exposure; to answer the question 'where is my data not protected'.

The need for DPM functions seem self-evident. It's interesting that SRM - storage resource management - suppliers haven't offered such functionality. Part of the reason may be that it is simply difficult to do, with no standard interfaces available. Certainly the backup vendors haven't got together to provide a standard interface for backup reporting information. The SNIA doesn't appear to have a strong interest in this are either.

It does have a backup work group. According to its web page it is working on:-

- Snapshot/Checkpoint/Quiesce
- Extended Copy Command test plan
- Extended Copy Session Management
- Multi-initiator issues – Factors related to device sharing across multiple hosts
- Addressing - Narrowing the conventions for addressing FC-connected gear
- System configuration – Data mover discovery
- Mapping - Physical location of data
- SCSI Passthrough (Host Bus Adapater API)
- Fabric routing - Determination of the best path to data
- Access control - Management issues and security

There is no cross-backup vendor data protection management reporting initiative here. Perhaps, with encouragement from WysDM and other DPM reporting vendors such as Bocada, the SNIA might set up a workgroup to develop and recommend standards in this area.

And SRM vendors?
It seems intuitively obvious that data protection management reporting should be part of a storage resource management functions. Softek has described. how it is providing specific integrated storage problem-solving products integrated under a general SRM layer. Its migration manager is one such product. Having a data protection analysis and report button alongside it would seem like a great idea.

WysDM does have a relationship with EMC so an entry into the Control Center product seems likely. Perhaps Softek will start talking to Bocada, WysDM's main competitor. Bocada has a space for strategic partners on its web pages but, so far, there are none mentioned.