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Symantec releases faster next-gen NetBackup, Backup Exec software

Upgrades all about faster backups, snapshot management, eDiscovery and cloud storage.

Symantec on Monday unveiled new versions of its flagship NetBackup enterprise-class and Backup Exec midrange backup applications -- Backup Exec 2012 and NetBackup v7.5.

The Backup Exec 2012 version includes a new user interface that can automatically configure backups based on the most common policies and settings used by Symatec customers.

The new interface allows for quick configuration with minimal effort, said Jason Fisher, director of product management at Symantec.

The updated Backup Exec offering is available through its traditional software distribution means, as well as in a pre-configured appliance and as a SaaS service.

Sean Regan, a senior director product marketing at Symantec, said about 1600 engineers worked on both products over the past two years in order revamp the products. The new features include the integration of incremental backups and deduplication to reduce I/O bandwidth and vastly reduce the time needed for backups, as well as to offer eDiscovery without having to first replicate data into a separate repository.

"We re taking what was formerly a four- or five-hour backup down to a one minute or two minute backup," Regan said. "This is not something you can compare to on the market today."

Robert Amatruda, an analyst at IDC, called the Symantec upgrades evolutionary, but said taken as a whole offer significant improvements that can increase the speed of backups and reduce management overhead.

"These are feature sets that may have existed in other products, but in v7.5 they're allowing you to kick off snapshots much more efficiently and also leverage that process to do things like eDiscovery. Not just more efficient recovery," Amatruda said.

A so-called V-Ray Edition of Backup Exec 2012 can back up data on virtual machines running either VMware and Microsoft's HyperV.

Additionally, backup administrators can add physical machines to V-Ray's backup capability policy, Fisher said, and manage both environments through a single console view.

Symantec said it also added bare metal backups and restore disaster recovery capabilities into Backup Exec 2012, which allow a failed system to be recovered to a physical server, or to a Hyper-V or VMware machine. The new disaster recovery features also allow entire virtual machines, single files, Active Directory objects, Exchange Emails, or SharePoint Documents from any single-pass physical, VMware or Hyper-V backup to be recovered.

"The current approach to backup is not working. The average customer has seven different backup solutions," Fisher said. "We're going to create a more unified state of backup by tying things together in Backup Exec."

The company also announced Backup Exec 2010 Small Business Edition, which allows firms with one to three servers to set up and execute backups in three steps.

Backup Exec Small Business Edition offers a simplified management interface that brings backup and data recovery under one console with a single license.

Symantec's new Backup Exec.cloud offering is a new software-as-a-service offering that allows business to set up cloud storage. "This is a cloud-based backup for customers who may not have IT expertise," Fisher said.

Symantec also offers Backup Exec 2012 users the option of using a cloud disaster recovery service from Doyenz Inc. .

The Doyenz DR option allows users to leverage cloud recovery for planned and unplanned system recovery in the cloud. The service will initially be available in the United States and will focus on rapid recovery for VMware environments.

A new Backup Exec 3600 appliance is described as an all-in-one product that comes with 5.5 TB of usable disk storage that is set up to backup an unlimited number of servers and applications, whether physical or virtual.

NetBackup 7.5

Like Backup Exec 2012, NetBackup 7.5 includes Symantec's new V-Ray feature, which allows storage administrators to consolidate the backup console's view of VMware and Hyper V virtual machines.

The update adds a new feature called Virtual Machine Intelligent Policy (VIP) that can automatically detect and back up new, moved, or cloned virtual machines, using deduplication to reduce the amount of data stored. Again, physical machines can be added to the virtual machine backups.

Symantec said a new NetBackup 7.5 feature called Accelerator can vastly speed backup times by using snapshots instead of full backups to protect data.

The NetBackup Accelerator feature works by backing up only incremental file changes; those incremental file changes are then also deduplicated to further reduce network traffic. When Accelerator is used to recover data, it has an index that allows it to quickly restore single documents or files.

"We keep track of the files that have changed and the blocks that have changed within those files. So when we do a backup, we know exactly what blocks to back up and where they are," said George Winter, a technical product manager for Symantec. "Relying on backup guys to be system integrators who glue dedupe with disk backup with VMware is a broken model."

The update also includes the NetBackup Replication Director tool than can integrate NetApp Snapshot copies and replication, and NetBackup Search, which lets users fill eDiscovery requests on backup data as well as create a selective legal hold on that data.

NetBackup Search allows administrators to search backup data to determine what files are relavant for future regulatory retention or legal hold requests; that way only data relevant to those requests is saved in an archive and the remaining data can be erased or put into offline archives.

"What we expect to do is allow people to move copies of relavent data into an archive [according to policies set up by legal teams] and give lawyers themselves the service to those archives," Regan said.

"They're allowing you to kick off snapshots much more efficiently and also to leverage that process to do things like eDiscovery for legal holds," Amatruda said. "The difference [from the NetBackup 7] is that they're capturing all that log file and index information they and have the ability to index that data in order to restore it more efficiently."

Symantec said NetBackup 7.5's Replication Director option allows a central console view to backup and recovery for hundreds of storage system level replicated snapshots. Replication Director leverages the API in Symantec's OpenStorage interface that can tie into NetApp's snapshot copies and replication (through SnapVault and SnapMirror features) for end-to-end management and recovery.

By consolidating data snapshot and replication management into the backup interface, administrators can replicate data and use it to perform searches and single file recovery from any snapshot copy.

Symantec NetBackup 7.5 will be generally available for purchase in spring 2012 through Symantec's worldwide network of value-added authorized resellers, distributors and systems integrators or directly.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian , or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is [email protected] .

Read more about storage in Computerworld's Storage Topic Center.


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