It's official: backup software packages have the longest product names in the business. We evaluate three leading packages to find out which suits the medium-sized business. Today you can use backup software to do more than just a simple backup. As you will see, organisations have also changed how they back up data.
Modern backup software packages support common groupware and database applications, they enable you to remotely manage multiple back-up servers running on different platforms, and execute backup jobs with hardly any intervention. Backup software provides full, incremental, and differential backups. Packages have advanced calendar-based interfaces so you can schedule backups as well as define them. You can also back up open databases, e-mail servers, and so on. Backup software has also become simple enough for a novice user to install and administer--not that you'd necessarily want to do that.
Many usually associate backup software with backing up to tape, and fair enough. Tape has been used to back up data for a very long time now, and still remains the most popular choice mainly because it's cheap to use and the storage capacities are high.
However backup software no longer needs a tape drive to backup; nowadays you can make use of hard disks and optical media for your backups. If you would like to find out which form of media will best suit your needs, have a look at the archiving feature.
Things to look out for
The ideal solution would comprise the following components:
Operate with multiple operating systems (Windows, Unix, NetWare, Linux, etc)
Allow you to remotely manage your devices and backup processes
Offer support for Storage Area Networks (SANs) and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices.
Must be scaleable across LANs or WANs
Be able to backup common applications and databases (Oracle, SQL Server, Exchange, Lotus Notes, SAP)
Have the ability to back up to disk and optical devices as well as on to tape
Be fast, reliable, and easy to use
Offer control over existing backup hardware
Be able to create reports and logs.
In a perfect world, you would like your product to be have all the attributes listed above. You'd like a backup solution that will enable you to back up more data with less hardware, in less time, and with fewer resources. To help you get the software part right, we review three popular backup software products: Computer Associates BrightStor ARCserve Backup v9, LEGATO NetWorker v7, and VERITAS Backup Exec v9.
Computer Associates BrightStor ARCserve Backup for Windows v9
The latest version of BrightStor ARCserve Backup v9 delivers better performance, easier administration, and a broader range of compatible devices for Windows-based networks over the last version. Originally developed for Novell Netware servers, ARCserve has gone on to support Windows and Unix/Linux as well.
This latest version of ARCserve allows you to backup to disk, which is a distinct advantage to backing up to tape as you can minimise your restore times. ARCserve also includes support for re-writeable CD and DVD media. The other two products we looked at also support backing up to disk and CD/ DVD.
You can also run the most common functions directly from the command line in the same way as you can on NetWorker 7. There's support for multiple NICs, which enable you to configure a dedicated backup path, and it supports NAS devices using Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP).
ARCserve Backup has the ability to manage multiple backup jobs, devices, and databases from one single view. It uses a central repository to store backup information that can be used to allow any ARCserve Backup server to access and manage storage tasks on multiple servers. It also has a management interface that can be run on the host system or remotely to manage multiple back-up servers running on different platforms. It has a Web-styled interface with familiar navigation buttons like you would see on a browser.
ARCserve features backup and restore wizards that allow novice users to easily and quickly carry out tasks. There are also shortcut buttons for more experienced users. The interface was generally well laid out and simple to use.
CA's main interface
Integrated into ARCserve is a virus scanner that scans the data for viruses as it's being backed up. This is a great idea, however by running the virus scanner during a backup job, you may slow the rate at which you transfer data onto tape, especially if there are files that have to be cleaned. ARCserve Backup also supports media rotation and bar coding for tape libraries, and parallel streaming of data.
ARCserve can produce extensive pre-defined job reports, session reports, and session details. These reports can be extremely useful when attempting to fine-tune your backup processes.
Then there are the add-on extras. There are quite a few of these and they can end up blowing your budget right out, but at least this way you don't have to pay for extras you don't need. You can add database agents, which will enable you to backup your database while it's in use (also called a hot backup). Support is offered for all the leading databases like Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, Lotus Domino, and SAP. There's also a SAN and NAS option, tape RAID, image (snapshot), and disaster recovery options.
Many of the installation steps have been simplified and automated in this version. We tested the performance of the software by backing up the same data with and without the virus scanner enabled. To our surprise there wasn't a dramatic decrease in performance (note we didn't attempt to transfer actual viruses onto tape). Curing actual viruses may take a while and you should be wary of this especially if you have a short backup window.
Computer Associates BrightStor ARCserve Backup for Windows v9
Least expensive base product; options are cheaper as well.
Good range of support options.
LEGATO Systems Windows NetWorker Server Workgroup Edition for Windows v7
LEGATO's NetWorker is an enterprise-level product; that means it can do everything the other two products can do, but scales a lot better and is more flexible. So in other words, NetWorker can grow as your organisation grows. You can also upgrade from the business edition to the power edition by adding the appropriate modules. This software is also backwards compatible, unlike the other two software products tested. For example, you can't upgrade VERITAS Backup Exec to VERITAS NetBackup, as it's a completely separate product.
With LEGATO's Networker you can access Windows, Unix/Linux, Open VMS, Mac OS, and NetWare servers in DAS (Direct Attached Storage), NAS (Network Attached Storage), and SAN (Storage Area Network) environments. LEGATO also features advanced indexing, high speed parallelism, automatic media management, and comprehensive NDMP support.
NetWorker can perform simultaneous reads and writes (disk) and is also geared to receive backups from multiple clients simultaneously as it supports parallel data streams and file interleaving. Just like the other backup packages, you can purchase a number of add-ons or modules. The Dynamic Drive Sharing (DDS) option allows drives to be shared in a SAN. DDS also supports a broad range of clustering technologies.
There are also modules for securing databases. These modules will enable you to perform hot backups and granular recoveries for Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, Oracle, and SAP. There's also an Open File Manager that lets you backup open application files, e-mail files, and user files.
The autochanger/silo software modules enable you to use a variety of tape autochangers. They are licensed according to the number of slots that are supported by the robot. Silo software modules allow you to interface with mainframe-class storage systems.
NetWorker has had a reputation for being a complex product. We found the installation and initial configuration complex. For a novice user, it might be a bit of a shock. This software is definitely not user friendly.
LEGATO's client interface
The main NetWorker interface appears somewhat out of date, and presented a few issues. Firstly, if you want to back up some data, pathnames have to be entered manually. Luckily, you don't have to do this from the client software. We also would have liked to see a built-in wizard that would show you how to perform a simple backup and restore. Also we had to install our tape devices from the command line. LEGATO promises this won't be the case with the next version (v7.1 which will probably be out by the time you read this review), however if you still want to use the command line, you will be able to. In fact, you can manage everything from the command line.
The client interface on the other hand has largish buttons for backup, restore, archiving, and verification tasks. This seriously needs to be overhauled with a new front end. By selecting the backup, a complete tree listing of the local disks files and directories can be marked for backup. You can also encrypt, protect, and compress data as well as execute the backup job from there.
The administrator can also remotely operate and manage your backups. The remote manager can do everything the NetWorker Administrator can do. NetWorker also features built-in reports and can notify you of events via pager, e-mail, or optional SNMP module.
Our simple backup test proved to be a bit of a challenge at first. For some reason, the software would not label any of our tapes and then it was quite a challenge trying to work out how to do a simple backup.
LEGATO Windows NetWorker Server Workgroup Edition for Windows v7
Superior to the other two products in terms of platform support.
Scales very well.
A little more expensive than ARCserve Backup and VERITAS Backup but still reasonably priced.
Excellent support and service, but can get expensive.
VERITAS Backup Exec v9 for Windows Servers
The latest version of Backup Exec from VERITAS includes some new features that make it more usable and reliable. It features a new graphical user interface that allows you to customise the layout and the information you want to be displayed. There's also a Web-based interface for management. However, this is only available on Windows Server 2003 or Windows-powered NAS appliances running the Microsoft Server Appliance kit. It also has a Microsoft Outlook-like calendar that enables you to clearly view scheduled daily, weekly, or monthly backup jobs.
Backup Exec will allow you to perform a test run before you run the regularly scheduled backup. With this feature you can quickly validate a job before committing to it. This will save you valuable time and eliminate recurring backup jobs due to failures. You can also do this with LEGATO NetWorker with a feature called probing.
Backup Exec has a new Admin Plus option, which is designed to improve the management of distributed backup servers. It has the ability to clone and remotely install media servers. This option also features a wide variety of management reports which can be delivered by e-mail.
Backup Exec can back up to disk including hard drives, NAS appliances, and RAID systems. Like the other packages, you can also back up to DVD, CD, and Zip media.
Like the other backup packages, there are many agents and options that you can fit to Backup Exec. There are database agents for Microsoft SQL, Oracle, and SAP R/3. There are intelligent disaster recovery options, online groupware agents for Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server, and Lotus Notes.
VERITAS' main interface
Backup Exec has enhanced the Exchange Server 2000 agent. This agent provides full, incremental, or differential backups and restores user data much faster. In order to help bring users back online faster, Backup Exec can re-create all Exchange Server components, including embedded objects, attributes, and all Outlook components. It also gives you the flexibility to restore selected folders and with the single instance storage feature you can eliminate backing up duplicate information by storing only the first instance of attachments that were sent to multiple mailboxes. Exchange mailboxes and user accounts can also be re-created on the fly during the restoration process.
For expanding to larger media storage devices or sharing storage over a SAN, you can purchase library expansion, SAN shared and Tivoli Storage Manager options. Media server and remote client access options are also available.
Backup Exec impressed us with its simple installation and easy-to-use interface. The entire installation took about 10 minutes and only required one reboot. After the reboot, Backup Exec automatically launches setup wizards that guide you through the initial setup. We were able to configure the media quite easily and start backing up data almost instantly.
Tier-one product maintenance is calculated at 20 percent of the product cost. Maintenance includes upgrade protection, 24x7 telephone support, access to CA's tech support database for issue tracking, Web, and e-mail support.
On-site support costing for tier-one and tier-two products is done on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether it is a CA issue or a problem with the customer's environment.
LEGATO Windows NetWorker Server Workgroup Edition for Windows
The basic software costs US$1200. LEGATO licenses tape libraries by the number of tape slots. If you have a library with nine slots or fewer, then you need the 19 slot license, but if you have a library with 10 through 16, slots then you will need the 116 slot license instead.
If you wish to backup Linux clients with the Windows NetWorker Server you will need the NetWorker ClientPak for Linux, which costs US$2160.
The modules under Windows are tiered by the number of CPUs in the server running the application to be backed up, where one CPU are Tier 1, two CPUs are Tier 2, four CPUs are Tier 3, and eight or more CPUs are Tier 4. We have listed below Tier 1 prices for Windows and Linux Clients.
NetWorker Module for Microsoft Exchange Server, Windows Client, Tier 1 US$1336
NetWorker Module for Lotus Notes, Windows Client, Tier 1 US$1336
NetWorker Module for Lotus Notes, Linux Client, Tier 1 US$1440
NetWorker Module for Oracle, Windows Client, Tier 1 US$1336
NetWorker Module for Oracle, Linux Client, Tier 1 US$1440
Direct support through LEGATO is available in two tiers as shown below, and support is available via e-mail and telephone through the 24x7 support centre in the US. Telephone support is handled via a toll-free phone number.
Basic support costs six percent of the current software license cost, with a minimum of US$1500 per year. Premier support costs nine percent of the current software license cost, with a minimum of US$30,000 per year.
VERITAS Backup Exec v9 for Windows Servers
The cost is AUD$1534.50; slightly more than ARCserve Backup. Agents for Exchange, Notes, and Oracle are also a little more. This is the price of the full version without any support. The Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, and Oracle modules cost AUD$1920.60 each.
VERITAS has a follow-the-sun support centre in Sydney, as well as one in the UK and one in the US. The company offers 24x7 telephone and e-mail support. Support may be redirected to one of the other support centres, depending on the time you're calling.
The VIP licensing program enables you to purchase the base product for AUD$1496 however you have to pay an additional AUD$343.20 maintenance fee. The maintenance fee includes 24x7 telephone and e-mail support, you get patches and technical updates as they are released, and is governed by a simple points system tracked by VERITAS that enables you to get discounts on the software. Discounts are applied in five tiers. The higher the tier reached by the customer, the higher the discount you receive.
Scenario Company: Australian Optical Industries. 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.
Editor's Choice: CA BrightStor ARCserve Backup v9
ARCserve Backup from Computer Associates wins our Editor's Choice award, for being the most suitable software product for our medium-sized company. ARCserve Backup scales up quite well. LEGATO's NetWorker may scale more, but at the end of the day it's designed for large enterprises. ARCserve is also easy to set up and use, and you can buy the additional agents to back up e-mail and database servers for a decent price.