Has System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 purged the ghost of 2007?

After a rough start with SCDPM 2007, I return to the next-gen version of my old nemesis to see if we can finally make peace

You might recall my dilemma last year when I installed System Center Data Protection Manager 2007 (SCDPM) for the first time and fell into peril within minutes of clicking around the interface. Little did I know that setting up a protection group and grabbing a data pool would erase a drive so quickly; it was like a live FDISK happened before my eyes. In the process it took out three Hyper-V servers running on that drive, which included a ton of data from the SharePoint Server and QuickBooks. Needless to say, I was at a cross between rage and tears.

Well, you can imagine it was with no small amount of trepidation that I began the process of installing SCDPM 2010 for my work with Exchange 2010 backup and recovery. If you have a smaller Exchange deployments and aren't using the high-availability capability built into Exchange (called Database Availability Groups, or DAG), you might be able to work with the free Windows Server Backup tool that comes with Windows Server 2008. But for a more capable solution that provides continuous data protection as opposed to a traditional backup, I had to go to SCDPM 2010.

[ Read more about how the Microsoft support folks got my SCDPM 2007 server and all my data back up and running in an hour. | Stay abreast of key Microsoft technologies in our Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]

Looking at the .iso file in much the same way that Ed Viesturs peered upon Annapurna (the last of his 14 8,000-plus-meter peaks), I knew I had to prepare for this moment first, unlike last time, when I just jumped in. I must have read every article I could on the deployment and use of SCDPM 2010 -- then I got an advance copy of the new Train Signal course on SCDPM by Scott Lowe. I have to say I'm still not pleased with the installation process, but at least this time it didn't take me eight hours to install due to all sorts of SQL issues.

The fact is you need to map out the prerequisites before you install SCDPM 2010. For example, you need to know that SQL Server 2008 is supported, but SQL Server 2008 R2 isn't. I installed SCDPM on a virtual machine and followed all the steps, but nonetheless, I hit a brick wall with the disk needed for the storage pool. Apparently you cannot use a .vhd virtual drive, so you have to either get an iSCSI disk (recommended) or use a pass-through disk. I went with the pass-through and connected a second external USB drive to the Hyper-V server to get it up and running.

I watched carefully for a change from the previous version of SCDPM. When you put your disk into a storage pool, SCDPM will use that disk exclusively, but SCDM 2007 didn't tell me it was going to eliminate all the existing data on the disk. Fortunately, SCDM 2010 does warn you -- I call that progress.

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