Symantec Corp. will enhance the data deduplication capabilities in its Backup Exec and NetBackup software in new versions that will be available next week, a move which analysts and customers say makes the data backup software market leader more competitive in an area where it lost ground to competitors last year.
Backup Exec 2010 and NetBackup 7 will become generally available Feb. 1, Symantec said today. Backup Exec 2010 will include a data archiving option thanks to the new integration of IP from Enterprise Vault, integrated data deduplication at the source as well as the media server, and granular virtual server backup.
NetBackup 7 will include source-based data deduplication to go with its previous integration at the media server level, continuous data protection (CDP) backup data replication, and better support for virtual server backups.
NetBackup 7 will cost $7,995 for an Enterprise Server and five client licenses. Backup Exec 2010's price will be $1,174 for a media server license and basic maintenance, $2,708 with deduplication, and $3,888 with archiving.
Backup Exec 2010 updates
PureDisk data deduplication IP has been fully integrated into Backup Exec 2010, as Symantec projected when it fleshed out its data deduplication roadmap last year. Deduplication can be performed at the source or application server -- similar to the way EMC Corp. Avamar is deployed -- or at the media server level.
Customers can also use Backup Exec 2010 to manage a "mini-Enterprise Vault" of archive data, pulled from its backup catalogs according to user-set policy. The integration lacks some of the advanced e-discovery and compliance features of the full Enterprise Vault, as well as Enterprise Vault's front-end search and indexing capabilities.
"The best thing I like about it is that the Backup Exec 2010 version of Enterprise Vault is only scaled down in e-discovery and compliance areas. The database engine is exactly the same," said backup expert W. Curtis Preston. "This means that if at some point you decide to upgrade to full Enterprise Vault, you can bring all that data with you." Backup Exec 2010 also finally adds Granular Recovery Technology (GRT) support for backing up VMware servers that Symantec added to NetBackup in 2008. The feature was first incorporated into its product line for physical servers with Backup Exec 11d, which allows unique object recovery from a single backup instead of through a secondary redundant backup that forced customers to use twice the space and time for backups if they wanted granular restores.
Following a series of dot releases over the last year-and-a-half, NetBackup doesn't have as many significant changes as Backup Exec does. For example, NetBackup was already integrated with PureDisk at the media server, but will now support source-based data deduplication.
This release also includes a long-expected full integration between Symantec's data replication and IP it bought from CDP backup player Revivio in 2006. Although CDP backup had been an option for NetBackup, there was no support for sending CDP backup data offsite. That has become a key feature for CDP backup vendors.
Symantec also boosted NetBackup's virtual server backup support to integrate with PureDisk deduplication and added a guided virtual machine recovery wizard that lets users choose to recover files, virtual machines, or the entire virtual server. It is also now integrated with VMware's vStorage APIs, which backup experts believe will alleviate many of the common headaches with VMware backups.
Symantec improves competitive positioning with long-awaited features
Symantec was among the first to integrate specialized disk-based backup features with NetBackup version 6.5 two years ago, but last year fell behind the rest of the market as competitors such as CommVault's Simpana, IBM Corp.'s Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) and CA's ARCserve Backup added tightly integrated data deduplication into the backup process.
Peter Lang, systems engineer for the Independence, Mo.-based Government Employees Health Association (GEHA), which provides health plans for more than a million federal employees, said he almost switched from Backup Exec last year because of its lack of dedupe. Currently, he uses Backup Exec to send data to a partition on his Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) USP-V Fibre Channel high-end disk array connected over 8 GBps links, but finds that contention for disks on the back end brings performance even on a high-end SAN to its knees. His staff is also growing tired of managing the security risks and operational time that come along with secondary backups to tape.
Lang plans to redesign his storage network using Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. LeftHand's iSCSI SAN product and replication over an IP-based WAN, eliminating tape and freeing up space on the HDS SAN again, "but it doesn't work without dedupe," he said. He needs deduplication at the source to cut down on the amount of data going over the network and hitting the back-end disk backup hardware.
"I delayed this project six months waiting for this release, "he said.
Other customers didn't wait, as evidenced by CommVault's continued revenue gains last year while Symantec's earnings fell.
"A lot of that had to do with CommVault's efforts to specifically target 'gap' accounts – customers growing out of Backup Exec and looking around at their options," Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Lauren Whitehouse said. "These releases will make Symantec much more competitive and stem the flow of people moving away from their family of products."