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 …
“Makes you think!”
I’ve heard some pretty horrendous numbers relating to data growth including: data is growing at upwards of 100% year on year – at the current rate we will create upwards of 600 Exabytes this year. That equates to a pile of books from outside your window to the sun and back -6 times. Alternatively, if that blows your mind, if a byte is a grain of sand the number of bytes we will create, re-create, mirror, copy, replicate or duplicate in some form this year will exceed the number of grains of sand on all the beaches in the world.
“Makes you think Part II – The Wrath of Data”
Even more worrying most of us are unaware where all this stuff is. Unstructured and semi-structured data is all over the place: on iPods, external hard drives, laptops, USB keys – you name it, we store it! Let’s call structured data anything that sits within an application or database and anything unstructured anything else – Semi-Structured data tends to be file shares, web pages (potentially), so, SharePoint, Exchange, etc. However, it is the difference in size between structured and unstructured data is so startling. You can get 25 million structured records on two CDs but just 25 (unstructured) songs (or 2.5 Prog Rock songs)! This means that about 80% of all data created is either semi-structured or unstructured.
“Makes you think Part III - The Search for An Answer”
So, how do we protect this data that is being stored on our company laptops and desktops? Generally we don’t! This is where Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery (BESR) comes in. Not only does BESR enable us to recover from system loss or disasters to dissimilar hardware but it can restore the data as well. BESR provides rapid, easy-to-use system restoration or full bare-metal recovery for servers, desktops or laptops. In addition, BESR 8.5 Desktop Edition can use its snapshot capabilities to automate the process of saving laptop or external storage data to a central or remote location.
“Makes you think Part IV - The Journey to DR”
If it’s Disaster Recovery capabilities you’re after then BESR includes flexible off site protection to an FTP location or secondary disk and enhanced recoverability with new cold imaging technology. The Granular Restore Option allows you to recover individual Exchange messages, SharePoint documents or files and folders from a single interface. The management can be centralised so you can centrally deploy, modify and maintain backup policies for local and remote systems, monitor real-time status with an at-a-glance view of system recovery jobs and sort out any problems.
BESR captures a recovery point of the entire Windows system without impacting user productivity. This recovery point can be conveniently saved to various disk storage devices including SAN, NAS, Direct Attached Storage, RAID, CD/DVD, etc. When systems fail, Backup Exec System Recovery enables a quick restore of system and/or data without the need for manual, lengthy and error prone processes also enabling you to recover systems in remote, unattended locations.
Handy – huh?
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?