Symantec recently carried out a survey on DR habits and discovered that, on the whole, DR is possibly not as successful as it should be. Seems a bit weird when the same organisations surveyed said that DR has an impact on customers, sales, and revenue. Nearly one-third of organisations reported that DR will impact their customers, while over one-fifth admitted this could also impact their sales and revenue. Hmm, I smell a rat!
OK, it’s pretty simple for me to talk about, but implementing a DR strategy can be difficult. You don’t want to impact the end user or production systems, you also don’t want to make a mess of your infrastructure in the process of putting in the very system that is supposed to save your bacon. As a result approximately half of the organisations surveyed test their DR plans either only once a year or less.
Bottom line: Organisations are not testing frequently enough to improve their plans and are not using adequate tools to reduce the overall business impact.
Ah, well, in that case that’s easy to overcome … unless you have a virtual environment, of course? The Symantec survey reports that only 37% of respondents reported that they back up all of their virtual systems. Currently, native DR tools in virtual environments are immature and don’t provide the top level protection that organisations really need today. While having a DR plan is essential in most organisations, knowing that DR plans work is just as important.
One of the reasons that DR plans fail is because they do have a tendency to become shelf-ware and this is mainly because implementing DR plans is pretty tricky. Well, here’s where you can save yourself some heartache.
Backup Exec System Recovery provides organisations with extended system protection with Scheduled Automated Virtual Conversion – NEW to 8.5 .. what this does is builds on the off-site copy capability. If you have a BESR server at your DR site that can see the duplicated images (FTP’s from the main site) a schedule can be set to convert the images from v2i to either vmdk or vhd formats. Once this process is complete the resulting virtual file can be mounted on a VMware ESX or Microsoft Hyper-V server ready to be booted should disaster occur at the main site – good, hey?
Backup Exec Infrastructure Manager (BEIM) utilises the Altiris Notification Server (please see the press release about Altiris 7.0 – http://www.symantec.com/about/news/release/article.jsp?prid=20090310_01 ) and Microsoft SQL database to store data obtained about a Backup Exec configuration. The system discovers and inventories an environment using the Altiris Notification Server (NS) Agent. It can then deploy update or upgrade to your existing Backup Exec Servers and Agents or deploy new customised installations of Backup Exec.
So, say you have a situation where you need to upgrade 15 Backup Exec Servers and 55 Backup Exec Agents, Five Backup Exec 9.1 servers and ten Backup Exec 11d servers protecting 55 remote servers all in need of an upgrade to 12.5. BEIM has automated discovery and inventory technology that enables you to auto-discover any Backup Exec components, from version 9.1 to 12.5, right across your IT environment.
BEIM will provide you with an inventory of all Backup Exec components and license keys; display an “Installation Map” of Backup Exec Servers, Agents, and Options; and provide a upgrade, or new deployment/ installation, based on a standardised configuration. Effectively, BEIM will then help simplify the process of upgrading your servers from 9.1 and 11d to 12.5, all with a single licence of Backup Exec Infrastructure Manager. In other words 1 copy of BEIM will allow you to discover, create inventory, deploy, upgrade, update, and monitor an unlimited number of Backup Exec components – job done. *.
The ideal backup solution should have capabilities that minimise an administrator’s management tasks through all the phases of a backup applications lifecycle, from installation, to updates, to upgrades, to discovering unprotected new systems and applications. BEIM offers organisations a tool to do just this, utilising the Altiris Notification Server’s Configuration Management Database (CMDB) technology to help organisations master their Backup Exec infrastructure.
Additional information on Altiris CMDB technology is available at the following link: http://www.symantec.com/business/service-asset-management-suite
The need for simple, centralised, scalable management, means that BEIM together with Backup Exec Central Administration Option, gives organisations the ability to manage the backup and restore operations across a distributed organisation by automating the initial and ongoing tasks of discovery, product inventory, deployment and monitoring of your Backup Exec infrastructure.
(* Backup Exec Server, Agent, and Option licenses and version upgrade licenses are sold separately from BEIM. BEIM includes no Backup Exec licenses.)
Someone told me the other day that they thought that nowadays Backup Exec was pretty complicated and it struck me that it wasn’t so much that Backup Exec had become more complicated, so much as the infrastructure that had. I was routing through my desk draws not so long ago and came across a copy of NetBackup 3.2 a single CD which included Media Management, Clients and all Robotic Support – a single CD! It now takes a few more than that to ship a backup product. Backup has become largely distributed throughout most organisations in order to deal with the demands of modern business. But this does mean that we need new ways to automate the deployment, updates, upgrades, and licenses efficiently across the environment.
Many organisations run a mixed environment of many different versions of Backup Exec and at different patch levels. When managing a large Backup Exec installation, it may not be clear;
- Which versions of BE do I have and where are they?
- What BE license keys have been installed and which Agents and Options?
- Are the patch levels for BE up-to-date?
- What data or machines are not protected?
- How can I update and upgrade multiple BE installations?
A significant deployment or upgrade of Backup Exec really does need careful planning, and subsequent management and now we have the tool to help the management of remote backup servers from a single place.
Backup Exec Infrastructure Manager (BEIM) will be available from early April – based on the Altiris delivery technology from Symantec – it will enable organisations to manage almost all BE operations through a web-based browser. This means you will be able to manage the :
- Discovery and Inventory of All Servers, Agents, and Options
- Creation of Custom Backup Exec Installations
- View of Protected vs. Unprotected Systems
- Creation of Backup Exec 9.1-12.5 Version Upgrades
- Creation of Backup Exec Patch Deployments
- Backup Exec License Management
- Backup Exec Disk Consumption Monitoring for Catalog and Disk-based Backup Data
- Command-line Script Management and Diagnostic Log Gathering
The new tool can help organisations reduce management costs; reducing time to deployment, patching, upgrading, troubleshooting, and monitoring the various components of Backup Exec. The combination of Backup Exec Central Administration Option (CASO) and BEIM is ideal for remote branch offices where network connectivity may be intermittent, but standardisation is needed.
Active Directory (AD) is now the standard directory service in the Windows O/S. Exchange, SharePoint and SQL, all of whom are dependent on its on-going good health, and yet, we protect our databases, email systems, applications – all of which are reliant on AD in the Windows O/S, but don’t do anything specific to protect AD? Hmmm, not clever nor grown-up.
Now, backing up Active Directory is pretty simple. However, everyone appreciates that an efficient backup and quick recovery of AD to maintain business productivity is essential and any administrator who has ever had to attempt to recover Active Directory (AD) data is well versed on how frustrating and time consuming just the basic recovery process can be.
Should data in Active Directory corrupt – which can happen – it can have a ripple effect across the Windows environment including down to the application level of Microsoft Exchange, SQL, and SharePoint. Because AD is a replicated database any human error, hardware or software failures, incorrectly modified or deleted objects, faulty scripts accidentally overwrite key AD attributes can have a disastrous affect.
So, with no specific backup and recovery tool for managing AD:
- The recovery process for AD is tedious and difficult
- AD restores require command-line system tools like Microsoft NTDSUTIL
- Requires a full restore of System State which increases downtime
- Authoritative restores also require you to disconnect the Domain Controller from the network which prevents users from accessing network resources during the recovery.
- The domain controller must be rebooted at least twice, creating additional downtime and risk.
- After full recovery, Active Directory installations that have redundancy, becasue of replication, and must wait for large portions of the directory to replicate inbound and outbound, creating additional downtime.
So, all-in-all, not good. Most AD recovery jobs are for minor disasters, but these can quickly escalate into larger issues. In situations where an individual user account, object, or even an individual attribute is lost or corrupted, recovery of the entire Active Directory database is not an efficient use of time for the Administrator since recovery is only needed for individual objects.
Why not utilise the BE Agent for Microsoft AD?
Key Business Benefits
- Online, granular recovery of individual Active Directory objects
- Restore objects without rebooting AD Domain Controllers
- Single Pass Backups for complete AD or object level recovery from single backup
- Point and Click restores.
- Centralised System State and Active Directory protection
- Microsoft Windows 2008 Family
- Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Family (including R2)
- Microsoft SBS 2008 Family
- Microsoft SBS 2003 Family (including R2)
- Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Family (SP4)
It used to be good enough to have your Monday tape and your Tuesday tape and what you did was … hmm, not working so well in today’s media rich business environment. VPN has meant I can work through my business network anywhere in the world – and WiFi more or less anywhere cable free and create stuff that isn’t necessarily in the right place to be backed up onto my Monday tape, or Tuesday tape. The only place I may struggle to work is on an aeroplane (which may also be a barrier that’s coming down) … and yet I’m writing this at 37,000 feet somewhere North-West of Munich.
Given that the messaging infrastructure and business file and print servers still seems to be separated by the red sea, a PDA to give me email may be good enough. Where a few years back more of our important business information resided centrally and less on laptops or desktops, or at remote offices, this now means that the chances are you are likely to be still totally reliant on dedicated IT equipment or several small-scale backup solutions? Or perhaps remote machine backup is not catered for at all?
This can be costly and could ultimately damage your business and its reputation. How comprehensive is the coverage defined in your current backup policy? Have you actually gone through the process of working out where your company data actually resides and then match the results to the level of data protection across your business? If end-users are geographically isolated, thereby inhibiting data management and backup, or if you are having to deal with the rapid growth in the volume of data that needs protection you might want to reconsider more advanced backup solutions to provide an effective backup and recovery platform across your IT environment, desktops and remote devices.
A backup solution that was highly effective 5 years ago (Backup Exec 8.6 included) may not be sufficient for your purposes now. It doesn’t have to be financially crippling. As existing Backup Exec customers on maintenance you can automatically upgrade – anyone on 10d needs to get moving at 10d end of lifes in April – and anyone can upgrade from previous versions of Backup Exec or other backup solutions for substantial discounts.
Customers on Backup Exec 11d and 12 can upgrade directly to 12; Backup Exec 10d & older versions then you will have to uninstall previous version and reinstall 12.5 … alternatively you can wait for Backup Exec Information Manager due out in April to automatically upgrade from 9.1 onwards to 12.5. For Backup Exec System Recovery 6.5, 7.0 & 8 you can upgrade directly, for LiveState Recovery 6.0 to LSR 3.0 you must uninstall previous version and reinstall 8.5.
Most important in today’s economic climate is IT’s struggle to manage, control, streamline and provide services to the business. With increasing pressure to do more with less (don’t you love that phrase!), IT needs to reduce risk exposure by improving productivity, driving savings and consolidating suppliers through a standard set of management tools that helps exploit IT assets.
Inevitably over the coming months we will see some massive changes in our working environment. Organisations that are forced to reduce overheads or make massive structural changes are at risk of stretching resources just a little too thin. Conversely, organisational consolidations may suffer from exponential growth of email systems, increased numbers of servers or storage hardware to manage, with minimal resources to do so.
Consequentially organisations need to maintain the status quo by rapidly securing their new technology landscape. But whichever it is, the pressure to do more with less will only increase. So, in today’s uncertain climate, how can IT address the key business risks and opportunities, discover cost savings that are achievable by addressing spiralling utility costs, the data centre power shortage, and the evermore heat-generating equipment.
Organisations are faced with making sense of IT that has, for several years, grown out of control with increased resources that are inefficient and underutilised as well as dispersed and constrained by increased workloads and new deliverables or simply lacking in the skills required to maintain business objectives. Organisation therefore need to plan to address possible risks in the future.
IT’s role needs to be reassessed and be more, centralised strategic, innovative, at a lower cost; as well as being less distributed. How? With Backup Exec and Backup Exec System Recovery providing tools such as centralised granular management – saving in time, cost and resources.
Why buy/upgrade now?
· Optimising data protection for physical and virtual servers (VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V) through new Backup Exec Virtual Agents.
· Take advantage of improved server utilisation through streamlined backup of physical and virtual servers from one single backup application
· Reduce complexity heterogeneous of data recovery
· Meet strict recovery point objectives and service level agreements
· Recovery of critical data in seconds with patent‐pending Granular Recovery Technology (GRT)
· Continuous data protection for Exchange, SQL, file servers and desktops and laptops ensures backup jobs are continuously protected allowing businesses to restore data back to virtually any point in time.
· Infrastructure management – single, central console to run inventory, deploy Backup Exec version upgrades and patches
· Microsoft 2008 – Support for the Complete Windows Server 2008 Portfolio. Backup Exec can be managed from within single EBS Admin Console. Enhanced SharePoint Recovery
· Get the benefit of cost containment, enhanced recovery and execution across physical and virtual environments in the growing Windows and Unix/Linux server arena.