Asigra runs the system-backup gamut

Televaulting for Enterprises 6.0 offers agentless backup of e-mail and database servers, OSes

Most backup packages are geared toward backing up a server to tape or disk, or at most backing up all the workstations on a LAN. Enterprises that need to back up a variety of servers and clients over a WAN are left to cobble together an assortment of backup software, and then separately manage the various backups.

Asigra’s multitier system, Televaulting for Enterprises, can alleviate some of that pain. It backs up all major server and client operating systems, as well as e-mail and database packages -- and even supports backups of virtual operating systems running on a VMware server. Add a pay-as-you-grow pricing model and Version 6.0’s new data recovery features, and this is a very good solution for enterprises with heterogeneous or distributed environments.

Backup Bonanza

Televaulting for Enterprises 6.0 lives on a central server along with local servers at each remote or branch office, and supports a clustered N+1 architecture for the backup server that maintains availability if a backup server node fails. It also automatically optimizes backups over a WAN link to keep performance levels high. The central server can run on Windows, Linux, or Solaris, and supports a complete list of client operating systems -- Windows, Linux, OS/400, NetWare, Mac OS X, and many flavors of Unix.

The software’s primary focus is backups on disk, and it handles backup and restore of servers, server apps, and workstations from dedicated secondary storage very well. It does support archiving to tape, but those processes are more basic because functions such as single-instance don’t apply to tape.

Televaulting supports e-mail backups at both the database and message levels, and covers Exchange, Domino and GroupWise, MS SQL Server, PostgreSQL, MySQL, DB2, and Oracle systems. The included Web Portal software also supports self-service backups; it’s intended for service providers but is equally serviceable for enterprise clients.

Installation is fairly straightforward, although Asigra’s use of a USB or parallel dongle requires collecting system information for the main backup server, sending it to Asigra, and then waiting for the dongle to arrive. That’s a somewhat frustrating extra step.

Adding to the amount of setup time required, there are several different pieces to be installed -- the Televaulting DS-System central server; DS-Clients at each site; the Web Portal (if desired); and the optional BLM (Backup Lifecycle Management) Archiver, an information lifecycle management application.

The DS-System’s required database can be MSDE (Microsoft Desktop Engine) or MS SQL Server on Windows, or MySQL or PostgreSQL on Linux. The Web Portal component requires a separate MySQL database and the BLM Archiver requires a separate PostgreSQL database. If you use all three pieces, they can’t all use one database server -- you need three separate databases, which adds some unnecessary complexity.

Each backup configuration requires setting an encryption key. There is no way not to set one, which is nice for enforcing security but adds another level of complexity for clients (not to mention another key that can be lost). There is no client installation as such; instead, a central server (or local server in a distributed environment) and rights are configured so that the backup user has access to the necessary files on all systems to be backed up. Backups are controlled from this central Televaulting system, and don’t depend on agents or software installed on each system to be backed up.

The local server sends all unique data back to the central office, eliminating duplicate files and compressing and encrypting the data before sending it over an IP connection. The central server can then be backed up via a tape library, disk storage, or replication. Restores are made from the local server, which greatly increases response times. All backups can be validated after the backup is completed, and Televaulting’s self-healing feature permits recovery from corrupted blocks. Scheduling backups, setting up automated reports, and monitoring completed backups are all straightforward and easy to configure.

Increased Automation

Adding storage to the backup servers is made easier with Asigra’s new “Extensible Data Storage” system. To add another storage device -- direct attached, SAN attached, iSCSI, or mounted from another server -- you simply mount the drive from the server, start the Asigra management utility, select the new drive, and add it to the storage used for backups. It’s a one-step process that’s much simpler than with most backup programs. The system also supports automated roll-outs of backup software using XML templates, which is unique as far as I’m aware.

Another new and useful feature in Version 6.0 is the bare metal restore, which allows administrators to recover data to a system with a new hard disk (or even different hardware) without having to manually reinstall OSes or applications. Of the backup systems I’ve worked with, Asigra’s bare metal restore is the easiest to configure.

Televaulting’s pricing model is also interesting: The cost is based solely on how much compressed data you back up. With a price of $56,000 for the first terabyte of data, and $7,500 for additional terabytes, the Asigra software doesn’t appear cheap -- until you consider that products with similar capabilities (such as Veritas Backup Exec) can cost much more if you have a lot of clients or servers to protect.

Asigra, however, doesn’t charge extra for its additional features, such as backing up databases or e-mail servers, or clustering of backup servers. Plus, there are no restrictions on the number of sites or computers that can be protected with Televaulting for Enterprises. The company also has a version called Televaulting for Service Providers, which offers the same architecture as the enterprise version but includes service-provider-specific features such as more sophisticated billing.

With its sophisticated three-tier architecture, capability to back up database and e-mail servers as well as files, and features such as service level agreement validation, WAN optimization, and N+1 clustering at no extra cost, Televaulting for Enterprises 6.0 is a flexible, comprehensive backup solution that can cover all the backup needs of an enterprise with multiple OSes and server applications.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Manageability (25.0%)
Performance (25.0%)
Scalability (25.0%)
Value (10.0%)
Setup (15.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
Asigra Televaulting for Enterprises 6.0 8.0 9.0 9.0 8.0 7.0 8.4