Symantec releases Linux version of Backup Exec System Recovery

Customers can now centrally deploy and manage bare-metal restore on Linux and Windows servers, but have to wait for integration between Backup Exec System Recovery and Backup Exec.

Symantec Corp. released a new version of its bare-metal restore software that adds support for Linux servers and tightens integration for centralized management of server backups.

Backup Exec System Recovery (BESR) 2010 will ship this week, but new support for backing up and restoring entire server images including operating system or individual files from Red Hat or SUSE Linux servers won't be generally available until December.

Once that happens, it will be the first non-Windows operating system support to be available for BESR, said senior product marketing manager Susie Spencer. According to Symantec's support forums, workarounds were possible to make Backup Exec System Recovery work with some Linux file systems previously. While it would appear at first to overlap with the company's Linux-focused a Veritas NetBackup product, she said the BESR support is intended for smaller businesses with a few Linux machines that they'd like to add to an existing BESR deployment for Windows.

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"This would be for new customers without the ability to recover for Linux machines," she said. For more advanced Linux users or for Linux distributions other than Red Hat and SUSE, Symantec would offer Veritas NetBackup.

The latest edition of Backup Exec System Recovery offers the option of what Symantec calls the Backup Exec System Recovery Management Solution, a new integration between BESR Manager and the Symantec Management Platform (formerly Altiris Notification Server) and a replacement for the Backup Exec System Recovery Solution released with BESR 8.5. (These last two are distinct from a free downloadable software connector Symantec initially released in 2007 to link BESR with Altiris.)

Spencer said the new System Recovery Management Solution brings features from another management console called BESR Manager into the BESR Solution to make one centralized management product, based on the IP Symantec acquired with Altiris in 2007. "Prior to this release, customers have had two ways to manage System Recovery -- Backup Exec System Recovery Manager and Backup Exec System Recovery Solution," she said. "We're now going with one management platform."

Previously, she said, customers have had the ability to centrally deploy Backup Exec System Recovery agents and to receive reports on whether data backup jobs were successful through BESR Solution. The new Management Solution will allow them take more actions within the Symantec Management Platform, such as performing physical to virtual conversions of servers, offsite copy management, backup destination monitoring, remote restores and the ability to centrally manage versions 8, 8.5 and 2010 of BESR. The BESR Solution supported only version 8.5.

Backup Exec System Recovery 2010 also adds updated support for various new operating systems, application and hypervisor versions, including Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7, Exchange 2010, VMware vSphere 4, Hyper-V 2008 R2 and XenServer 5.x.

While integration with Altiris and new operating systems continues apace, Symantec has yet to deliver the integration it has promised between BESR and Backup Exec. There is overlap -- while Backup Exec does not perform bare-metal restore of operating system and application objects and settings for physical servers, it can offer similar capabilities for virtual machines in version 12.5. Meanwhile, BESR 8.5 offered agents that could be used for a Granular Restore Option to restore individual files from Exchange or SharePoint server images, which mirrors what Symantec calls Granular Recovery Technology (GRT) in Backup Exec and NetBackup.

Spencer said integration remains on the roadmap for the two products, but declined to give a time frame.

"Symantec has talked about multi-phase integration between these products, but things have changed since those initial statements," including and especially the growing role of server virtualization, Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Lauren Whitehouse said.

Whitehouse said she sees Backup Exec System Recovery and Backup Exec playing different roles and being positioned for different use cases in the data backup and recovery market. "System Recovery is well suited to the 'S' in SMB, which is simple to deploy and doesn't need a lot of technical resources to operate," she said. It will especially be useful in shops too small for server virtualization to be cost-effective, she added.

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