It’s been a while since I last wrote an article, and almost a year since I wrote the first part of what was going to be a 2-part introduction to Backup Exec for newbies. Now’s as good a time as any to write it…
It ended off with budgets, implementation timelines, and decommissioning old software. This article will deal with types of hardware to use, virtual/physical media servers, and some of the technologies to look at:
Backup Hardware to Use
Almost every hardware vendor (HP, IBM, EMC, NetApp) has either disk-based, or tape-based, or both, backup options. There has been a big push for disk being the primary backup target to completely replace tape, but tape is still a developing technology with LTO7 and LTo8 on the radar. So tape isn’t dead, and tape won’t be replaced anytime soon.
Disk-based backups have tremendous benefits, which would include more concurrent jobs to the array/NAS, holding more data more readily, and faster restores. However, arrays tend to be expensive.
Tape can backup TBs now with LTO5 and LTo6. However, it can’t do dedupe backups direct to tape for instance, while GRT-based backups to tape require staging (either manually or automatically) to disk. However, cost-wise they can be cheaper than an array.
Carefully consider the hardware you want to purchase, and don’t over-purchase. By this I mean don’t let someone trying to make a sale, sell you something you don’t need which inflates the costs; costs which can be spent elsewhere to maybe optimise your environment. If you have hardware that exists, and you’ve just taken this over, make sure you come to grips with how it works, how it all fits together, and how you can perhaps even improve your backup flow.
Virtual or Physical Media Server?
BIG consideration here…there are a lot of queries on Connect around having a virtual media server, and Symantec’s position on this is clear: it’s considered an alternative configuration and, as such, is not supported. However, there are also some comments doing the rounds where it has been stated that some form of support might be given.
This was tried in an environment I looked after. 2 servers acting as ESX hosts with no shared storage. 1 host had the virtual media server with SCSI pass-through to an HP StorageWorks MSL2024 G3 tape library. This setup worked like a charm…until it glitched. Backup Exec would lose connectivity to the host. Troubleshooting revealed ESX lost connectivity to the library, and this ended up leading to a host reboot and unnecessary downtime. Even with shared storage, and using SCSI pass-through (which on later versions of ESX is no longer supported), the media server wouldn’t be able to migrate between hosts.
Using a virtual media server when backing up to disk is probably a better option, especially if this is simply presented from a datastore. It would save on costs as physical hardware would not be required.
When considering whether or not to go virtual, or stay physical, seriously consider the implications from a Symantec perspective…there’s nothing worse than not having support if you are in dire straits…
Some of Backup Exec’s Technologies
Used to doing normal backups to disk or tape? What about deduplication? Used to manage multiple servers by connecting into each and every one of them? What about CASO (Enterprise Server Option if you’re using Backup Exec 2012)?
There are a number of options within Backup Exec that can be used to improve your environment, be it backup speeds, management or redundancy. Take the time to check out the various functionalities that BE can offer your environment. While this would lead to costs incurred, it could end up making your life easier.
Some other advice…play around with the software, especially if you are new, and when new versions get released, trial them first. Virtual platforms running on your desktop/workstation are able to run a Windows Server-based server on which you can install the trial software.
And lastly…any questions, come to Connect. There are lots of people here willing, and eager to help find answers!