Backups Suck (But They Don’t Have to)

by | Aug 12, 2020

Focus on what matters with instant visibility into the condition of your backup application and detailed analytics to quickly pinpoint where any issues lie.   IBM’s backup monster, Spectrum Protect (TSM as we called back in the day), sucks. Not because the software sucks – it’s actually the best there is – but because backups […]

Focus on what matters with instant visibility into the condition of your backup application and detailed analytics to quickly pinpoint where any issues lie.  

IBM’s backup monster, Spectrum Protect (TSM as we called back in the day), sucks.
Not because the software sucks – it’s actually the best there is – but because backups suck in general. It’s the quintessential necessary evil of IT. The thing that everyone needs, but no one cares about, and the thing that makes your life crappy at times.

It’s been said that sh*t runs downhill and in the data center, there are many levels. You might pass the network guys on the journey to the valley, maybe the DBAs or even the storage guys. But way down below in the foothills, probably in some abandoned mine shaft, is backup – and your desk! Follow me on our journey to a solution that will help you better enjoy your permanent station in hell!

Your Backup Struggle is Real

Many times it seems that backup is the stepchild nobody wants to deal with. Yes, it’s essential and a part of the IT family, but it can be a nuisance, so it rarely gets the attention it needs and deserves.

Contributing to “backup apathy” is sheer workload volume. Running any single backup process is simple. Ten or even fifty processes can be manageable but running 200, 500, 1,500, or even 3,000 every day, all day without a hitch – impossible! Ok, I guess a hitch or two is expected but backups can have hundreds of hitches, and there are monkey wrenches all over the datacenter. Things you can’t control. For example, network guys networking the hell out of everything, DBAs ALTER DBing their butts off. All with little interest in how that might affect you.

Adding insult to injury is that IBM has been notoriously bad at making things “user-friendly.” It seems that all the folks at IBM love bits and bytes and hate you. Is it so hard to produce a UI that doesn’t suck? It’s been nearly 30 years, and Operations Center (OC) is finally decent, but still lacking. There are too many items to monitor in Spectrum Protect, and, like most tools, OC feels fragmented and misses the big picture. Go here for this. Now go there for that. Spectrum Protect admins need monitoring and reporting that is concise. Yes, we need the fine details, but not until we need to dig deeper – when we know there is a problem.

So, we need a way out. A way to focus on every nuance of Spectrum Protect without getting lost.

The Solution to Your Backup Struggles

If you’re managing backups, you need to be able to focus on what matters, with instant visibility into the condition of your backup application and infrastructure, as well as detailed analytics to help easily and quickly pinpoint where any issues may lie.

Galileo can help you do this. It can give you the big picture and incredible detail. Galileo collects Spectrum Protect data seamlessly and gives you the most accurate and detailed view of your backup environment in a single dashboard. You’ll be able to know in an instant – Am I Protected?

As you read this and your backups spin away, do you know all is well? As your LTOs turn and your disks burn, are you all good? You may be, but can you easily prove that to someone who doesn’t care (but should)? Galileo can.

Galileo for IBM Spectrum Protect

You know that annoying Spectrum Protect daily life cycle. In the old days it was Backup, DB Backup, Copy STGPOOL, DB Backup, Expiration, Migration, Rotate tapes, blah blah blah… Today with replication, it can be a bit less crowded, but you’ve still got Backups, Protect Pool, DB Backup, DB Snapshot, etc.

When is all that running? Is it overlapping? Did it run longer or shorter yesterday? Last week? Last month? With Galileo, you can determine all of that immediately. Let me show you.

Timeline View

The timeline view seems to be designed for Spectrum Protect. Sure, Project Managers hijacked timelines and called it Gantt or something, but it was meant for Spectrum Protect processes. It is the simplest of views but so powerful:

Galileo SP Chart - Instance Process Timeline

Has expiration run at the same time all the time for the last 30 days? – click – Yep!

Galileo SP Charts - Instance Process Timeline for the last 30 days

How about my Virtual Environment backups? From this chart, it looks like there may have been an issue or a change last month. With Galileo, I knew this in real-time.

Galileo SP Charts - Instance Process Timeline for Virtual Environment backups

Timeline is so powerful when applied to various workloads that it’s almost impossible to explain. Imagine if you could use this elsewhere in your life. Where are all your kids? It looks like they’re backing up the datacenter!

OMG – how cool is this? Every backup in the shop. For every day as long as you have history. Totally filterable (with full regex). Nice!

Galileo SP Charts - Backup Client Process Timeline

But Am I protected?

I don’t know, are you?

Perhaps we better look at replication, because at this time of day it should be 100%. But for sure, backups and DB backup are complete.

Galileo SP Charts - see your entire backup instance

If I look at the entire instance, I can immediately see that I have a process that is failing. I can see which nodes are not even configured for replication, and I can see the current state of replication at the lowest detail. I can zoom in and out in seconds, and get tables full of “how much,” “how long,” “how frequent,” “how successful,” and even “how fragmented.”

I’ve been in IT for 30 years, and I don’t know of any tool faster and more detailed than the entire Galileo Suite of products.

Galileo SP Charts that show backup replication

How about Virtual Environment Backups? It’s the same simple, easy views across the board. All of this is on one dashboard in one place, and so freaking fast, you might have time for lunch!

Galileo can even pull in your OS, storage, SAN, and network devices so you can have a complete picture. Not just for Spectrum Protect, but everything all your data center assets.


Spectrum Protect is a great backup product, but backups are tough. We created this Spectrum Protect agent to make your life easier. Galileo has the best Spectrum Protect admins on planet earth, hands down. Let us help you.

I have worked in hundreds of shops and fixed thousands of backup issues, and there are 200 years of combined experience at Galileo that made its way into this product. We get it. The installation is a snap – all you need is DSMADMC on a Linux box and to make sure one of those network nubs gives you an internet connection. Additionally, because we are a service and not just a software company, our support team is always here to help you navigate your mine shaft.

SP is a great backup product. Galileo is an amazing service. Give us your SP data and we can help you better enjoy your permanent station in hell. ???? If you have ideas on additions to Galileo for Spectrum Protect, drop me a note. If it makes sense, we’ll do it. We are committed to getting you out of the IT valley and onto the IT mountain top…which turns out is a lot like being the top dog at Michael Vick’s house. But hey, it beats being the low dog at Michael Vick’s house.


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