Server Sales – Worst First Quarter in 12 Years

I don’t know if any of you have noticed but the first fiscal quarter of this year has been pretty bad for server sales. It doesn’t matter what the pundits say, however, it is important for all of us to save money, cut costs – but absolutely not at the expense of our backup.

Whatever else you gamble with, backup shouldn’t be one of them. IDC recently reported that server sales from January to March was the worst quarter in the dozen years that they have been releasing quarterly server figures. The current economic crisis has injected a disconcerting amount of uncertainty into the business climate. Organisations are loath to spend any more money than is absolutely necessary.

The silver lining here is that IT departments can use this opportunity to consolidate existing projects and focus on optimising existing backup systems . Backup Exec 12.5 and Backup Exec System Recovery 8.5 are built on complete protection and recovery providing central management protection for both virtual and physical systems – everything from multiple virtual servers to individual directories and files; a new generation of data protection management tools, powered by Altiris technology, for both Backup Exec and Backup Exec System Recovery.

BE delivers unmatched granular recovery capabilities for Exchange, Active Directory and SharePoint environments reducing the overheads associated with managing Exchange mailbox backups, restoring Active Directory user preferences and attributes without multiple reboots and overall simplifying the recovery process for critical Microsoft applications.

With BE you can ensure fast, efficient recovery of individual emails or documents from a full or incremental backup. Why take the time to recovery an entire database when all you need is an individual document or email?

Backup Exec System Recovery has offered capability to quickly convert physical systems to virtual environments for several years now. BESR enables immediate system recovery to virtual systems by allowing IT administrators to schedule physical to virtual conversions.  Through a virtual conversion wizard an IT administrator can schedule P2V conversions to occur monthly, daily, weekly even hourly if desired so that in the event of a failure, you have a virtual system ready to go. In addition to dramatically reducing system downtime, this reduces management time and set-up for IT organisations as well.

Also new to this release is support for the latest virtual environments including VMware ESX 3.5, Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer 4.x (when using VMDK or VHD file types). When you add this functionality to the off-site copy capability it really helps organisations address their disaster recovery needs.

If someone wants a high availability solution without investing in a lot of clustering or replication software that are outside their budget BESR technology is a great way to copy these images to other locations, convert them on a schedule, and if the original server goes down those images can be brought up immediately for high availability purposes.

IT has to make do with what they have – what they need to do is make sure that they are “making do” as efficiently as possible, tweaking here and there, centralising management, adding agents and options to optimise the backup and recovery of critical data and applications and slim-lining processes to improve backup process efficiencies.

You might want to take another look at Backup Exec and Backup Exec System Recovery …

Managing the Backup Infrastructure – BE Infrastructure Manager

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.

Backup Exec 12.5 Granular Recovery

One of the really cool functions of BE is the Granular Recovery Technology (GRT). By the way, anytime you need more information on any aspect of BE please see the Backup Exec for Windows Servers Administrator’s Guide. In fact, don’t take my word for it, download from here:

Just a few tips to help you get the best out of BE’s GRT:

  1. Review the requirements for staging locations in the Administrator’s Guide.
  2. You must use a staging location for GRT-enabled jobs in the following scenarios:
    • You back up to or restore from a volume with file size limitations.
    • You restore granular items from tape.
    • You run an off-host backup job.
  3. You are better off creating a separate backup-to-disk folder specifically for all GRT enabled backup jobs – this really simplifies media management. You will need to manage the IMG media that GRT enabled jobs create differently than other backup-to-disk media.
  4. Don’t allocate a maximum size for backup-to-disk files. If you do then you are in danger of getting failed jobs because of low disk space. This is because the backup-to-disk file often occupies extra space since GRT information is stored in IMG media and Backup Exec will only create a backup-to-disk file that is as large as the size that you specified.
  5. If you are using frequent incremental GRT enabled jobs it is a really good idea to run a full GRT enabled backup job every so often. This is because each incremental GRT enabled job requires a small amount of internal storage. If this storage amount increases too much, it can affect system resources. When you run the full GRT enabled backup job, you make available the storage space that has accumulated from incremental jobs.

12.5 delivers GRT for Exchange, Active Directory, SharePoint Server, and SharePoint Services which gives you the ability to recover granular data quickly and efficiently from a single-pass backup. It means, for example, that you do not have to run Exchange mailbox backups to recover granular data, including documents, list items and user attributes, or properties.

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