Four backup apps tested

A look at how backup software from BrightStor, Legato, Tivoli and Veritas stack up against each other.

If you are looking for the right software to ease your backup pain, look no further.

Despite advances in the size and speed of tape backup hardware, in many cases the offerings just do not cut the mustard, with a major complaint being that they are still relatively slow. When you are backing up terabytes of data, or need to take quick snapshots of smaller databases, even multiple tape drives may be far too slow given the backup window of opportunity.

For this reason, support of large and fast disk arrays as backup devices is almost a given in most backup software. Hard drives are dirt cheap and far faster than tape. A typical scenario has the backup initially written to disk and then, when convenient, farmed off to tape.

There are various scenarios that may be used to trigger the transfer to tape:

  • The drive array may simply be a staging point to capture the backup data in a short period of time and then for the remainder of the day the data is more slowly transferred to tape.
  • High water mark -- when the backup drive arrays free space reaches a certain size, say 25 percent, this may trigger the transfer to tape until the free space drops back to a pre-set size.
  • Data aging -- as soon as data on the disk becomes a particular age the data in question is transferred from disk to tape.
  • The disk array may simply be the primary on-site backup with the tape copy transported to an off-site vault in case a local catastrophe takes out the primary backup drive array. By using the disk as the primary backup, if you do need to restore data it will be far quicker retrieving the data from disk than tape.

But tape still has its place. While it may appear that for the most part we are dismissing tape as a waning technology, tape storage still has some definite advantages over disks. For example, storage capacity is generally higher, the media is interchangeable, tapes have a very long shelf life, and are virus free -- drive arrays can be gazumped by viruses but your archived tapes are quite safe.

Although the test scenario for our comparison is quite modest most of the software tested quite happily scales up to large enterprise infrastructures. In a large organisation many of the features in our "Quick Checklist" become critical and can save an organisation a great deal in time and money, just centrally managing multiple servers, backup devices, and geographic locations from a single location is a boon.

BrightStor Arcserve Backup R11.1


Contents
Introduction
BrightStor Arcserve
Legato Networker
Tivoli Storage Manager
Veritas Backup Exec
Specifications
How we tested
Checklist
Editor's choice
About RMIT

Installation of Brightstor is relatively easy but, as one would expect, the more agents and features you install the more licences keys you have to laboriously type in.

Originally developed as a backup tool for Novell Netware ARCserve now has support for a wide range of network operating systems including Windows, various flavours of Linux and Unix, and even Mac OS X. The list of databases supported via agents is quite extensive.

Support for media is thankfully broad and encompasses optical media, tape, hard disk, and even SAN. Backup jobs include full, incremental, Bare Metal Disaster Recovery and Image backup. In the last case, very fast backups are achieved by bypassing the file system and reading the disk block by block.

The software comprises various utilities, many of which can be launched from the Backup Manager which is a centralised management tool for your entire infrastructure. Remote systems can be backed up and restored while monitoring job status. ARCserve can utilise its own database to store the management and admin data, or if you prefer, an SQL database that must be installed prior to ARCserve.

ARCserve features multistreaming and can multiplex up to 32 streams with automatic job redirection if a media or device error should occur. An interesting inclusion in the features list is on-the-fly scanning of the backup data stream using eTrust AntiVirus. This can be disabled but we did not find much of a performance hit with having it enabled. Tape management is quite good also with barcode support and media rotation for large tape libraries.

The interface is simple and colourful with logical button design and function placement. There are also status indicators to show if the tape and database engines are running. The software is very simple to use but to make it even easier, wizards for Backup, Restore, Scheduling, Device Configuration, and Diagnostics are provided. Of course, you can bypass the user interface if you wish and launch tasks using relatively simple command line scripts.

The list of predefined reports is extensive, and we can't see much room for improvement. Scheduling jobs is straightforward but does not have some of the flexibility of other products, such as randomising start times or defining backup time windows. Should a problem occur, the Alert Manager should be able to trap it and at the same time provide a wide variety of notifications from e-mail to pagers.
Legato Networker V 7.1.2


Contents
Introduction
BrightStor Arcserve
Legato Networker
Tivoli Storage Manager
Veritas Backup Exec
Specifications
How we tested
Checklist
Editor's choice
About RMIT

There is no doubt that Legato is enterprise capable with its extensive options list, and rigorous installation and configuration. In the dialog box for setting up a server, for example, while many of the items can be left at their default values some tweaking is definitely required to achieve high levels of performance.

Server and client operating system support is excellent and even includes Sun Solaris, IBM AIX, Novell Netware as well as the more common OSes. About the only server OS missing is Mac, but Mac OS X is supported as a client.

Application support is also excellent, including Lotus Domino/Notes, DB2, Exchange Server, Oracle, Informix, SQL Server, SAP R/3, and Sybase. Live backups and granular recoveries are also supported. Networker is perfectly at home with DAS, NAS and SANs and there are Autochanger Silo modules that are licensed by the number of slots the robot can access. Media management per se is very impressive and Networker supports multiple clients simultaneously with parallel data streams and file interleaving. Very fast block-level backups can also be executed.

Index handling is quite sophisticated -- to prevent the backup servers index database from growing too large, the retention time for indexes to be immediately browsable can be configured right down to the individual file level. Of course, once an index is archived it can still be recalled it just takes longer.

The user interface is a big improvement over version 7.0 where some options such as device installations had to be performed via scripts rather than the current versions GUI.

While the Administration interface is based on a tree structure that is quite logical, for the uninitiated there can be a good deal of hunting and pecking to find the required option. The Backup interface on the other hand is very simple and straightforward with large, colourful buttons clearly encompassing the software's functionality. In addition to selecting items to backup the user can also compress and encrypt the stored data with the click of a button.

At first glance, reporting appears very basic and to be one of Networker's weaknesses, however Networker Management Console provides extensive reporting -- everything from basic to full drill down reports. Scheduling is quite good but it isn't as flexible as some of the other packages and also is a bit convoluted. Firstly you can define schedule types such as "consolidate weekly". This involves setting the type of backup to occur on a daily basis, either: skip, full, incremental, or consolidate for each full day. You then set the time a backup will occur under the group and then assign the "schedule type" to that group.

To be blunt there are other enterprise-level packages that are just as powerful but are easier to drive than Legato Networker.

Tivoli Storage Manager 5.2.2


Contents
Introduction
BrightStor Arcserve
Legato Networker
Tivoli Storage Manager
Veritas Backup Exec
Specifications
How we tested
Checklist
Editor's choice
About RMIT

Tivoli has a relatively simple software installation, given the extensive feature list, although the configuration is more time consuming than most. Of the packages reviewed, Tivoli is arguably the most powerful in terms of its features set; unfortunately we did not run Veritas' Netbackup head to head with Tivoli, choosing instead to go with BackupExec as a closer match to the test scenario. We did however include Netbackup in the Features Table for comparison.

Server platform support was not as we would have hoped with only BackupExec providing less support. For example, Tivoli does not support RedHat Linux or Netware servers, although client support is considerably more extensive and it does support the aforementioned operating systems. Application support is excellent with API clients for MSSQL, Oracle, Informix, DB2, Exchange, Lotus Notes, and SAP.

Backup device support runs the gamut from single tape drives through to libraries and hard drives and to SAN attached tapes, using the relevant storage agent. More than one instance of the application can be run and parallel streaming is supported. Tivoli has some unique features, for example a tape's valid data is tracked and once it drops to say 50 percent it can be consolidated with a second tape of 50 percent or less valid data onto a single tape. This can all be managed automatically in your tape library.

Defining what is and is not valid data is also very flexible as you can expire data -- either after a definable number of days, versions, or a combination of both. Tivoli is also able to migrate tapes when you upgrade your devices, for example move the data from two LTO 1 tapes to a single LTO 2 tape.

For such a powerful application, Tivoli's user interface is relatively simple to drive. We managed to find most functions with a minumum amount of hunt and seek, and what's more the Web interface is almost identical to the Windows GUI. All the functions are located in a tree structure down the left hand side while attributes of the selected function reside in the right hand window. To save travelling back and forth from the menu to the relevant icon, most features are available by right clicking on the relevant icon.

There is a good selection of wizards, certainly more numerous and professional in appearance than Legato for example. The scheduling wizard is a good example and like most high-end backup software, it allows the user to set a time window for the task to occur. Configuring devices is a breeze, and while Tivoli is not actually bursting with reports it is not too bad with a reasonable swag covering most topics, and in many cases errors are highlighted in colour depending on severity.

The interface for backups is quite slick with the trees structure carried through to include more than just drives or partitions. For example System Services such as IIS Server Metabase can be backed up by simply selecting it from the tree. It's simple to select single files as well from the tree, the type of backup be it full or incremental and even have the software provide an estimate for the backup job.

Veritas Backup Exec for Windows V9.1


Contents
Introduction
BrightStor Arcserve
Legato Networker
Tivoli Storage Manager
Veritas Backup Exec
Specifications
How we tested
Checklist
Editor's choice
About RMIT

Backup Exec has certainly grown into a powerful backup tool, and while it isn't a package we would still recommend it for a large enterprise. Veritas has Netbackup for this role and it is more than capable of meeting the requirements of our test scenario and would still be at home in a medium enterprise. Provided of course that the only server you wished to install Backup Exec on was a Windows server, as there is no server support for Linux, Mac, or Novell Netware (although the client support is quite broad and does include Linux, Mac, and Novell).

Applications support is quite good with SAP, Oracle, Exchange, Domino, and SQL agents available. Exchange support is particularly good with snapshot support on Exchange 2003 as well as the added flexibility of backup and restore of individual mailboxes and backup of single instances of attachments sent to multiple recipients, saving on storage space and reducing the backup time. Media support is very good and includes most optical media, tape drives, hard disks, and SANs.

The software is quite painless to install and includes a very simple wizard that takes the user through media management defaults, device configuration, and logon accounts.

The user interface at first looks a little cluttered as the applet launches displaying the overview, this includes a series of links to various functions and a handful of wizards to assist the user. That said, the user interface is one of the easiest and clearest to navigate. The option or feature can be found by selecting one of the tool bar buttons: backup, restore, job setup, alerts, reports, devices, and media -- pretty easy really.

The various displays look a little complex at first glance but this is because all the options associated with the function are available directly from links down the left of the display.

Configuring and performing backups and restores is a doddle with the simple tree structure -- in addition to drive partitions it also includes mailboxes and public folders. Scheduling is flexible and easy to configure with a user definable Time Windows to ensure backup tasks aren't missed if a previous task ran overtime.

With the Admin Plus option installed the user has a large selection of reports ranging from Alert Logs and Job Status to Media Vaulting and Server Workloads.

Alerting is very good but not quite as extensive or flexible as some of the other enterprise packages, perhaps an unfair comparison all things considered, but is nevertheless not lacking in the critical areas.

Specifications

  CA Brightstor ARCserve Backup release 11.1 Legato Networker V 7.1.2 Tivoli Storage Manager V 5.2.2 Veritas Backup Exec for Windows Servers V9.1
Scenario RRP AU$5125 (includes 1 year support and maintenance) US$6584 AU$10750 ex GST (includes 12 months support) AU$4263.60 (including extended 24x7 support)
Distributor Express Data and Tech Pacific EMC/Legato IBM VERITAS Software Pty Ltd
Phone 1800 999 985 (02) 8912 6100 132 426 (03) 8866 8000
URL www.ca.com www.legato.com www.ibm.com/software/tivoli/ www.veritas.com
Server Support
Microsoft Windows 2003/ 2000 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sun Solaris (SPARC) Yes (Sun Solaris V9) Yes Yes No
HP-UX (PA-RISC) Yes Yes Yes No
HP Tru64 Unix (Alpha) No Yes No No
IBM AIX (Power) Yes Yes Yes No
Red Hat Linux Yes Yes No No
Red Hat Advanced Server Linux Yes Yes YesNo
Novell Netware Yes Yes No No
Client Support
Microsoft Windows 2003/ 2000 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Microsoft Windows XP Yes Yes Yes Yes
Microsoft Windows 98 Yes Yes Yes Yes (98SE)
Sun Solaris (SPARC) Yes Yes Yes Yes
HP-UX (PA-RISC) Yes Yes Yes Yes
HP Tru64 Unix (Alpha) Yes Yes Yes No
HP OpenVMS (Alpha) Yes Yes No No
IBM AIX (Power) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Red Hat Linux Yes Yes Yes Yes
Red Hat Advanced Server Linux Yes Yes Yes Yes
Novell Netware Yes Yes Yes Yes
Macintosh OS X Yes Yes Yes Yes



How we tested


Contents
Introduction
BrightStor Arcserve
Legato Networker
Tivoli Storage Manager
Veritas Backup Exec
Specifications
How we tested
Checklist
Editor's choice
About RMIT

The scenario for testing included the following server configurations:

Backup Server
  • Single CPU running Windows 2003 Server (with a large backup drive array and single LTO 2 Tape drive)

  • Total backup storage space required <150GB

File Server
  • Single CPU running Windows 2003 Server with 150 users Database Server

  • Dual CPU running Windows 2003 and SQL Server

Mail Server
  • Single CPU running Redhat Linux and SendMail with 150 mailboxes

  • All software pricing sourced from the vendors was based on the above configuration.
  • Checklist


    Contents
    Introduction
    BrightStor Arcserve
    Legato Networker
    Tivoli Storage Manager
    Veritas Backup Exec
    Specifications
    How we tested
    Checklist
    Editor's choice
    About RMIT

    Although not everyone will need the following features they are certainly worth considering when you evaluate your potential solution:
    • Will operate with all common operating systems (Windows, Unix, Novell, Linux, Mac, etc).

    • Allow you to remotely manage the backup processes including servers, clients and devices.

    • Offer support for Storage Area Networks (SANs) and Network Attach Storage (NAS) devices and appliances.

    • Must be scaleable across LANs or WANs.

    • Have agents to carry out "live" backups of applications and databases such as Exchange, Oracle, SQL Server, Lotus Notes, SAP, etc.

    • The flexibility to back up to a variety of media and devices such as disk arrays, optical devices and tape libraries from wide number of vendors.

    • Ease of use and management.

    • Fast and reliable.

    • Is there backward compatibility with legacy backup hardware.

    • Useful reports, tracking and status logs.

    Sample scenario

    Company: Bradshaw Publishing
    This company needs software to manage backups of its file, e-mail, and database servers for 150 users.
    Approximate budget: Open.
    Requires: Backup software that will run on Windows 2000 Server.
    Concerns: The software must be able to back up open e-mail and database files, and work with Windows and Linux based servers. Ease of use in creating and managing multiple backup sets is a key criterion.
    Best solution: BrightStor ARCserve Backup R11.1

    T&B Editor's choice
    Editor's Choice: BrightStor ARCserve Backup R11.1


    Contents
    Introduction
    BrightStor Arcserve
    Legato Networker
    Tivoli Storage Manager
    Veritas Backup Exec
    Specifications
    How we tested
    Checklist
    Editor's choice
    About RMIT

    Given our modest scenario, any of the packages tested would easily do the job. Veritas Backup Exec, the least expensive solution, can certainly handle the task but we feel it does not quite have the ability to cope with a rapidly growing infrastructure without migrating to its big brother Netbackup, which we did not test. Both Legato and Tivoli products are overkill for the current task but each can handle full blown enterprise infrastructure with Tivoli, in our opinion, being the better of the two. But for an easy to drive solution that has the ability to keep pace with considerable growth in infrastructure, and at a reasonable price, we feel BrightStor ARCserve Backup R11.1 has all the bases covered.

    This article was first published in Technology & Business magazine. Click here for subscription information. About RMIT IT Test Labs

    RMIT IT Test Labs RMIT IT Test Labs is an independent testing institution based in Melbourne, Victoria, performing IT product testing for clients such as IBM, Coles-Myer, and a wide variety of government bodies. In the Labs' testing for T&B, they are in direct contact with the clients supplying products and the magazine is responsible for the full cost of the testing. The findings are the Labs' own -- only the specifications of the products to be tested are provided by the magazine. For more information on RMIT, please contact the Lab Manager, Steven Turvey.

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