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Barracuda Backup 490 review: All-in-one backup and recovery of physical and virtual resources
With everything needed to take backups and recover data in one self-contained appliance, Barracuda Backup is an economic and easy-to-use solution. It also offers scalable replication both to other appliances and the cloud, with fast live booting of backup images locally or in the cloud another key benefit.
Self-contained solution requiring no extra software
No per-server or per-application charges
Backup replication to other appliances and/or the cloud
LiveBoot to mount VMware images from a local appliance or the cloud
No archiving to tape
No malware screening of backups
LiveBoot is for VMware only
Probably best known for its firewall and filtering products, Barracuda is also in the backup business, employing the same appliance-based approach to protecting data as it does keeping the bad guys at bay. In fact it has a whole family of scalable backup appliances that are further enhanced by site-to-site replication and replication to the cloud. The latest release also offers live booting of VMware backups for near-instant recovery.
It starts with an appliance
Barracuda Backup appliances are based on industry-standard server hardware from Supermicro with no additional software or hardware required. Everything you need comes on the appliance, and you don't have to pay extra for each server or application you want to protect either. Just buy one or more appliances with enough storage and network bandwidth to cope and you're good to go, with several models to choose from.
The cheapest is the free-standing 190 (£899 ex. VAT), which is aimed at smaller companies and departmental backups. It's equipped with a single Gigabit Ethernet port plus 500GB of usable storage to typically handle backups of around 200GB. The remaining models are all rack-mount units with increasing tallies of storage and RAID protection as you move up the scale. At the high end, redundant power and 10GbE connectivity are added to the mix.
The most expensive model is the 4U 1090, which features a 34-disk storage array, a 10GbE network interface and hot-swap redundant power, and delivers a suggested backup volume of 50TB from a usable internal capacity of 102TB. The recommended price for that little lot is £121,349 (ex. VAT).
Despite the size differences, Barracuda Backup appliances all run the same software, have the same tools to hand and work the same way. They can also all be used to protect both physical assets and virtual machines with support for VMware and Hyper-V as standard. Moreover, the Barracuda software is designed to take advantage of industry-standard protocols and built-in APIs, which means it can protect both Windows and Exchange servers, for example, without having to install anything extra on the hosts themselves.
There are exceptions, so agents are included to take backups of SQL databases and the Windows System State on protected servers, for example; a custom Linux agent is also available. The agents preloaded onto the appliance, ready for downloading as required.
For this review we were given access to Barracuda's own network with several appliances ready-installed, to which Barracuda added a Backup 490 appliance for our evaluation plus an admin account to access the integrated web interface. Using this you can configure and manage all of your appliances from one console, which we found to be both intuitive and responsive: it features the usual dashboard-like status display to keep you informed of what's going on, and allows you to drill down for more detail as required.
An app for mobile monitoring and management is also available, and although there can be quite a few alerts to deal with at times, overall the management interface does a good job and operators shouldn't need much training to use it.
Backup sources were very easy to add. Agents are rarely required — just supply a name or IP address and the software does most of the hard work for you, with a useful option to test the connection and make sure you've got it right. Backups can then be scheduled and stored on an appliance, with automatic compression and deduplication applied to minimise the storage required. Unfortunately you can't then archive from the appliance to tape but, for added protection, backup data can be replicated — either to another appliance or to storage in the cloud.
A quicker and more reliable alternative to tape (especially when it comes to recovery), we found the replication options very easy to understand and configure. However, you do need a model 490 (£4,499 ex. VAT) or above to accommodate tiered backups from other appliances, plus an additional subscription in order to use Barracuda's cloud service — a flat-fee based on the amount of storage required, priced in 200GB chunks.
Recovery and more
There are lots of options for recovering data, starting with the ability to restore direct from the original backup appliance, a replica on another appliance or from the cloud. You can also restore single files, folders and entire systems using a simple Restore browser to locate the backups required. Alternatively end-users may be allowed to recover files themselves via Barracuda's Copy cloud service.
Bare-metal recovery is possible for complete Windows servers, along with message-level recovery for Exchange servers rather than have to recover the whole store. VMware users can also boot backup copies of their virtual machines either on an appliance or, following a recent update, from a replica in the cloud.
We found this option to be surprisingly straightforward and quick, a live boot from the cloud taking just a few minutes in our tests. Unfortunately Hyper-V users have yet to get this option, but with VMware still the major player in the virtualisation market it's an option well worth having for rapid recovery of business-critical systems.
Of course security is a perennial concern, particularly where the cloud is involved, which makes it surprising thay malware screening of backups isn't an option. This is probably because Barracuda has other appliances for that. However, you do get 256-bit AES encryption of backup data, both on the appliances and when stored in the cloud. Plus, on the compliance front all transactions are logged by the appliances concerned and it's possible to define your own flexible policies for data retention. Role-based delegated management is another useful feature, along with extensive reporting and alerting capabilities.
Barracuda Backup is a comprehensive offering that covers the majority of the backup and recovery bases in an affordable yet scalable and easy-to-use appliance. Replication to the cloud adds yet another dimension, with site-to-site replication available for those who are concerned about data location. There are few rough edges and limitations, but Barracuda Backup is well worth considering by anyone with backup in mind.