Windows backup grows large
Veritas Backup Exec Suite centralizes job management across large networks
Backups used to be a straightforward matter of putting a tape drive in a server and running the right backup software to get good backup tapes.
The complexity of enterprise networks has increased, however, and so have the requirements for backup software. Your modern backup suite must provide replication, off-site backups, backups to disk, protection of e-mail and database servers, and hopefully some policy-based management tools that help you make the most of your storage.
The Veritas Backup Exec Suite, which consists of Backup Exec 10, Replication Exec 3.1, and Storage Exec 5.3, addresses these needs for the small and midsize enterprise. All three products can be controlled from the same Central Admin Server, and additional Veritas storage products are scheduled to be integrated as new versions arrive. The suite is typically deployed in a three-tier architecture, consisting of the Central Admin Server, media servers on each LAN or SAN segment, and agents on each server, workstation, and laptop.
The new Central Admin Server is not required to schedule jobs across the suite, but anyone with more than one Backup Exec server probably will want the centralized administration of jobs and policies, consolidated reporting and logging, and the capability of creating enterprisewide catalogs.
Each product is delivered on a separate CD and has separate documentation and licensing. After all the pieces are installed, you have to follow a wizard-based process to connect each Replication Exec and Storage Exec server to the Backup Exec console to create, run, and monitor jobs. After the products are all connected to the Backup Exec console, however, integration is seamless: They behave as a single application.
New features that admins will be glad to see include synthetic full backups, which create virtual full backups by aggregating incremental backups, and DirectAssist, which is a Web-based support program that offers a useful level of self-diagnosis as well as secure communication with Veritas support.
Disk-to-disk backup worked well in my testing, with high speeds limited only by network bandwidth or HBA performance. Synthetic backups made restores straightforward and fast. The suite also supports multistage backups, providing for replication of important data, backups to disk from the replicated data, and backups to tape from the disk. This can all be policy-based, with different rules for different types of data.
Replication Exec offers some good features, including support for synchronous and asynchronous replication, filtering of data to be replicated, one-to-many and many-to-one replication, bandwidth throttling, and replication of open files. Storage Exec can schedule jobs through the Backup Exec console, allowing you to delete certain files or file types, or simply exclude them from replications or backups.
The workstation and laptop backup option allows backups to be scheduled for particular times -- or whenever a remote user connects to the network -- and they offer sophisticated tools for conserving bandwidth. Restores are easy enough that most users shouldn't require tech-support help to get files back.
If you have Backup Exec installed already, the update is a simple one, and the added capabilities are substantial. If yours is a primarily Windows-based organization, Veritas Backup Exec Suite will be an easy fit. It provides excellent support for e-mail, database, and collaboration applications, and the overall cost is reasonable. Installation and documentation could be more tightly integrated, but the sum of the parts hits the mark, enabling enterprisewide data management from a single console.