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Cancer research group endorses Backup Exec 2012 upgrade

The Backup Exec 2012 upgrade made for a lot of unhappy customers, but the Gynecological Oncology Group's IT team found the new interface a snap.

Not all Backup Exec users hated the new Backup Exec 2012 interface or demanded Symantec Corp. make changes before they upgraded. Scott Gould, senior network and systems analyst at the Gynecological Oncology Group's statistical data center in Buffalo, N.Y., said he found the new version easier to use than Backup Exec 2010 practically from the start.

The Gynecological Oncology Group (GOG) uses Backup Exec to protect clinical trial data for cancer research generated by about 10,000 GOG members at more than 700 institutions. The group installed Backup Exec (BE) 2010 about two years ago and performed a Backup Exec 2012 upgrade early this year. Gould said the new interface was no problem for him or his two-person support staff to master.

"I liked it; no ifs, ands or buts about it," he said. "There was a learning curve, but by the time I was setting up my fifth protected resource, I realized how easy it was to use. And it wasn't just easy for me. I was responsible for designing and setting up the system from the ground up, but other users [at GOG] have picked it up easily. They can do simple restores on their own. That says a lot about the user interface."

Although, not everyone agreed with that assessment, as Symantec soon found after releasing the BE 2012 upgrade. There was an angry user backlash, placated only by the vendor's promise to fix some of the issues via service packs. But Symantec execs said newer users and heavily virtualized shops should take to the new interface quicker than those who have used the product for many years.

Gould said he quickly realized how to create a resource group that showed him what he could see in the old interface. "It wasn't that difficult to get a view similar to what we had before," he said. "The whole job staging flow from resource to disk or tape has gotten easier to manipulate or manage."

Gould said GOG's servers are about 80% virtualized with about 40 virtual machines on a five-host VMware cluster. GOG switched from CA ARCserve to Backup Exec 2010 at the same time it moved to Dell Compellent SANs. Gould said Backup Exec handled virtual machine backups better than ARCserve, and has superior data deduplication. He said BE's one-pass backup lets him protect virtual and physical machines while backing up only once.

Gould said GOG struggled to do full backups in 24 hours with ARCserve, so it had to wait until the weekends to do full backups on some systems.

He said GOG now starts full backups Monday through Friday at around 5 p.m., and completes them by around 9 a.m. the next morning. GOG backs up data directly to a Dell PowerEdge server, and then copies it out to tape at night.

He said his dedupe ratio is about 32-1, with roughly 4.5 terabytes (TB) of disk space protecting around 150 TB of uncompressed data.

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