If you speak German, you can call Symantec Enterprise Support Services and within minutes, you'll hear "Was ist los?" ("What’s the problem?") Finding a German-speaking storage system—that’s a little harder.
Backup jobs were crashing—but no one knew why
A U.S. government agency in Heidelberg, Germany, had backup problems. NetBackup jobs would suddenly crash, leaving vital information unprotected. Bill, the storage administrator, called Symantec for help.
Trevor, a Symantec support engineer, fielded the call. "We had done extensive testing when we installed Veritas NetBackup and it all worked fine," Bill related. "It was a mystery!"
Reviewing the log files, Trevor spotted a problem: blank entries for some file names. He suspected data corruption inside the customer's NetApp storage systems. But he didn't simply route Bill to NetApp support—Trevor wanted to track down the problem, no matter where the fault lay.
The Babel of international file names
Even before the case had been formally escalated, Trevor consulted with David, a Symantec support engineer specializing in NetBackup. David knew of a similar incident, so he conducted some research using the Tech Support knowledge base. After some determined digging, he found a bug report for exactly the same problem.
The German language was the culprit. File names with umlauts and other special characters—for example, März_2007_Warenbestand.doc (March_2007_Inventory.doc)—were not always handled properly. UTF-8 support for international characters is built into the NetApp 7G Operating System, but it had been turned off on some volumes. This couldn’t be fixed at the time: Availability requirements prevented shutting down the systems to reprovision those volumes. However, NetApp was scheduled to release a patch to allow on-the-fly configuration changes in just a few months—solving Bill's problem.
More than one way to back up information
The solution was in sight, but there was still work to do—Bill's data wouldn't be safe until the NetBackup jobs all ran to completion. Trevor and David studied the customer's environment carefully and came up with a workaround.
"Bill uses NetBackup's NDMP option to access network-attached storage," explains David. "We showed him how to configure NetBackup to access the problem volumes as Windows CIFS files instead. Windows accurately translates the German characters, avoiding the problem. CIFS backups are slower than NDMP, but jobs aren’t crashing anymore."
From initial call to successful workaround took just over one month. Bill is more than happy with the support he gets under his Symantec Essential Support Services contract.
"It's challenging when another vendor's products are involved, but we're pretty comfortable troubleshooting NetApp gear," says David. "Trevor's expertise was invaluable. Bill pitched in, too, running test cases and sending us back the results. When everyone pulls together, cases get resolved faster. This time, it worked perfectly."