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Symantec backup applications get makeovers for speed, VMs

Symantec enhances backup applications NetBackup and Backup Exec: adding speed, search and NetApp integration to NetBackup and better virtual backup to Backup Exec.

Symantec Corp. today rolled out improvements to its backup applications, including a faster backup process and enhanced search for NetBackup 7.5, as well as virtual machine backup enhancements and a new interface for Backup Exec 2012.

Symantec claims it increased the backup speed in its NetBackup enterprise backup application with the addition of a NetBackup Accelerator feature. The accelerator feature reduces traditional full backups to the speed of incremental backups for millions of small files, according to Symantec.

“They say the speed has been increased by 100 X, which is a bold claim,” said Jason Buffington, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). “They integrated technology from client-side deduplication. First, files are identified and then the parts of the file that have changed are deduped.”

Symantec streamlined its file system scanning, and uses change file tracking and deduplication to back up only the changed blocks or sub-file level changes.

“Deduplication is done at the block level so we don’t send the whole file across,” said Danny Milrad, Symantec’s director of product marketing. “This is an evolution of deduplication in which we eliminated the scan time.”

Symantec also formed a partnership with Network Appliance to develop a NetApp Replication Director feature within NetBackup 7.5, which now supports NetApp’s SnapMirror and SnapVault. Snapshots are pulled into NetBackup so administrators can manage from the backup application and they also can use snapshots to recover data.

“You can restore from disk or tape and now you can restore from NetApp snapshots,” said Buffington.

NetBackup can also now do more granular searches, create an audit trail and conduct federated searches across all domains or just search an isolated domain, said Milrad. Previously, NetBackup had a remedial search capability that was not designed for e-discovery. The company has built a new index technology in the backup application that is similar to the one in its Enterprise Vault archiving application.

“When a backup is done, we do a file system scan to track the metadata attributes for the backup files for more granular searches,” Milrad said.

Backup Exec V-Ray

Symantec added V-Ray for virtual machines to its Windows-based Backup Exec application. The V-Ray edition includes a backup-to-virtual feature that allows customers to restore a production server from a VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machine by treating the virtual machine as a backup target. When data is backed up to a physical BackupExec server, an image also is constructed.

“If you lose a whole production machine, you can just spin up a virtual machine,” ESG’s Buffington said. “You can think of it as a pre-staged bare metal recovery.”

Backup Exec 2012 also includes a new wizard-based user interface that reduces the multi-set backup process down to three mouse clicks. The interface lets the backup administrator quickly identify the server, data set and the protection/retention policy when conducting backups.

“Before [the new process], it was about whether each task was completed. We optimized the interface to show that the critical workloads have been protected rather than the tasks,” said Sean Regan, Symantec’s senior director of product marketing.

Symantec also made license changes in BackupExec 2012. Backup Exec 2012 V-Ray edition lets customers license on a per-socket basis. Previously, Syamntec’s licensing centered on physical servers with an option to add virtual support.

“It changes pricing so customers don’t have to buy a physical license,” Regan said.

The Backup Exec 2012 Small Business Edition allows customers to protect a maximum of three servers without dealing with multiple licenses and agents. A single license includes all agents and support for Microsoft Exchange, Sequel Server and Hyper-V. “This radically shrinks the number of SKUs,” Buffington said.


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