As a managed service provider (MSP), value-added reseller (VAR), or IT administrator, you know the importance of a reliable backup to your complete backup and disaster recovery plan.
A solid backup is the bedrock of your plan. You don’t want to get into a disaster and find that one of your backups is corrupt, or worse yet, that your backup solution hasn’t even been running.
If you expect to recover successfully from a disastrous event, whether it’s a deleted file or a tornado, you need to be sure your backups are doing what they’re supposed to do: taking clean, pristine images of your data and applications. (Continue reading below)
The reality, however, is that sometimes this isn’t happening and there are a lot of reasons why a backup might not be operating properly. It might be as simple as the fact that the disk you’re saving your backup images to has run out of space. Or maybe there’s a virus. Or maybe there has actually been some kind of disaster like a disk failure and nobody’s noticed it yet.
And complicating the problem even more is the fact that you more than likely have more than one system you’re trying to protect. Depending on your business, you might have dozens or even hundreds of different systems across different departments, different buildings, or even different clients.
Nor are all of these systems created equal. Some are mission-critical servers that have to be running 100 percent of the time and so need bullet-proof backups that never fail.
At the same time, you might have systems that run non-critical applications or simply store archived data. On these systems, while backups are still important, you may not need up-to-the-minute knowledge about them.
With all of this depth and complexity in the systems you’re trying to back up, you need a way to not only keep track of all your running backups, but to organize them and prioritize them.
In fact, according to the Aberdeen Group, solid monitoring and reporting are crucial to effective backup and disaster recovery.
On page 11 of its 2010 report “Disaster Avoidance and Disaster Recovery: Making Your Datacenter Disaster Resilient,” it reports that 93 percent of businesses with the most successful backup and disaster recovery plans include monitoring and reporting as a crucial part of their plan.
So how do you keep track of your backups?
It provides remote monitoring of your ShadowProtect installation across your entire business, warning you when there are problems. With ShadowControl CMD, you have an eye on each piece of your backup and disaster recovery plan.
ShadowControl CMD lets you keep track of what’s going on with your backups using an easy-to-access and easy-to-use web portal. Now you can review every machine and every drive from a single location. And ShadowControl CMD will send you alerts when something’s wrong so you can address it before it becomes a disaster.
ShadowControl CMD works in conjunction with ShadowProtect to provide updates on every aspect of both your backup jobs and the machines you’re backing up. You can monitor backup size, disk space, and more.
And beyond the status of a single machine or backup job, ShadowControl CMD lets you take control of your whole network of machines. You can monitor individual machines or all the machines in a single location, department, or business. You can also prioritize machines at a given location, so you can make sure your critical machines get the attention they deserve.
With ShadowControl CMD, you have the power to customize your monitoring to meet your needs.
Note that ShadowControl CMD requires a ShadowProtect 4.x or later installation.
How It Works
To get started, you’ll need to set up an Appliance. This is the brain of your monitoring system and as you’ll see, it gives you the flexibility you need to keep track of your environment.
Creating an Appliance is easy. Simply boot the pre-configured ISO that comes with ShadowControl CMD onto a separate, dedicated server and follow the prompts. The system requirements for the Appliance are very low so practically any machine will do. You can even install it on a virtual machine.
Once your Appliance is set up, install the ShadowControl CMD agent on every server, desktop, and laptop in your network and subscribe them to the Appliance. These are your EndPoints, the source of your data.
You can have as many Appliances as you want and to keep track of them all, you can subscribe them to a single Appliance you’ve designated as a Portal. Now you can monitor your entire backup environment from anywhere with the easy-to-use web app.
Using ShadowControl CMD
With your hardware set up, you can create a backup monitoring and reporting plan that works for you using Organizations and Sites.
Organizations and Sites allow you to categorize your EndPoints on a specific Appliance in virtually any way you want. They create a hierarchy throughout your backup environment that simplifies the customization of your monitoring and reporting.
You can use Organizations and Sites to organize your backup environment however you want.
Want to organize a client’s machines by departments? Piece of cake. Create an Organization on that client’s Appliance, then create a Site for each department that includes all the EndPoints on those machines.
Or maybe you want to create a distinction between data types. Create your Organization, then a Site for critical data, another for archived data, and so on.
You manage all of your Organizations from the web portal by creating an Org Group. This gives you a global view of your entire backup environment and lets you easily make changes to your monitoring and reporting across the board.
Whether you’re an MSP or an IT administrator responsible for an entire company, ShadowControl CMD Organizations and Sites put you in control of how you monitor your machines.
You can setup as many Organizations and Sites on an individual Appliance as you want, but each EndPoint can only belong to one Site. If you need more granularity or you want to create multiple ways of interacting with specific machines across your network, ShadowControl CMD also comes equipped with a tagging system.
So if you want to keep track of different machine types, but also need to know which departments they’re in, you can set up an Organization and some Sites to handle the machine types, and use tags to designate their department.
For more on different ways of using ShadowControl CMD, check out the StorageCraft ShadowControl CMD Scenario Guide.
Getting the Information You Need
ShadowControl CMD Organizations and Sites offer more to your backup environment than simply structure.
At each level, from Org Group to Site, you can apply custom rules that dictate how and when you’re notified of a problem. Rules are inherited through the hierarchy, so you can set rules that you want to apply to your entire network in the Org Group and they will apply to all your Organizations and Sites.
You can also, however, set additional rules for each Organization and Site. This allows you to get just the information you need from each area of your network.
For example, if you’re an MSP and you have a client who refuses to update his or her rickety old machines, you can group those servers into a single Site and make sure the rules for that Site are proactive and robust so you’ll know if anything goes wrong right away.
ShadowControl CMD has three levels of alerts (Good, Warning, and Critical) and rules allow you to define what triggers a change from one level to another for your Org Group, your Organizations, or your Sites.
You can set rules in ShadowControl CMD based on a number of criteria, including backup success or failure, available storage space, the size of the backup file, the status of the machine, the presence of disk errors, and the status of StorageCraft ShadowControl ImageManager.
You can also set ShadowControl CMD to email you alerts for specific events, so you are always on top of your backup environment.
ShadowControl CMD puts you in control of your backups. By giving you anywhere, anytime access to the current state of your individual machines as well as your entire network, it gives you the confidence the best backup and disaster recovery plans are supposed to deliver.
ShadowControl CMD Means Confidence
There’s a reason 93 percent of the businesses with the best-in-class backup and disaster recovery have built reporting into their plans.
Many disasters could be prevented if they were discovered early enough.
Your complete backup environment is a complex, constantly evolving thing, which makes it difficult to identify problems early on.
If you had to manually check each machine and each backup, you’d be bound to run into trouble. ShadowControl CMD solves this problem by putting you in command of your backup environment.
From enabling more efficient execution of simple maintenance tasks to early detection of major problems, ShadowControl CMD is a diverse, flexible solution that’s easy to use and available wherever you need it.
ShadowControl and ShadowProtect
ShadowControl is a growing suite of products designed to complement the award-winning, best-in-class StorageCraft ShadowProtect.
ShadowProtect takes pristine images of your hard disks, preserving your applications and data no matter what the disaster.
ShadowControl CMD enhances your ShadowProtect experience by giving you the ability to look at all your backups at once from a birds-eye view, or to zoom into specific instances and see what’s going on in a specific machine.
Together with ShadowControl ImageManager, which allows you to manage and replicate ShadowProtect backup images, ShadowControl CMD brings you one step closer to automated, scalable business continuity that you can always rely on.