Data is valuable at SMEs too

Vertias talks up storage and management of data ahead of Symantec merger

In the face of an increasing user perception of the value of data but also awareness of the cost of storage and time involved in backup, storage software company Veritas has integrated and added to its range of backup and storage management products. A major new release, which aims to accelerate backup and restore of data and simplify its operation, was launched last week in New York.

The growing volume of sometimes valuable data comes up against a diminishing window of available time that can be set aside for creating duplicate copies, says Veritas CEO Gary Bloom. Bloom is to become deputy CEO and president of the merged operation with Symantec.

Smaller and more dispersed companies are developing an appreciation of data’s value and related disciplines that used to be more familiar in large data centres, Bloom says. Such units perhaps don’t have the skills or time for a dedicated operation in a small organisation or small branch office.

With version 10 of its flagship Backup Exec, Veritas is bringing together scheduling of bulk backup with real-time synchronisation ensuring different data sources stay in step as and when data items are changed in real time, and a technique it calls “synthetic” backup, where a trail of such recorded changes over a period is put together to produce a backup file equivalent to the status of the system at a certain time.

Computer systems dispersed over an organisation can be managed through their backup procedures from a central suite..

Backup Exec 10 with other elements is collectively known as the Windows Data Protection Suite. Though aimed primarily at Microsoft users, the largest proportion of Veritas’s customer base, the suite has client “agents” to back up servers running Linux and other non-Microsoft operating systems.

Version 10 can also be configured to detect file types considered irrelevant to business and omit them from the backup or clean them out altogether, according to policy.

Veritas is encouraging its users to back up onto disk, promising that this will mean greater speed and add little extra expense by the time the employment of tape librarians and the cost of delay in locating and mounting tapes is taken into account.

Eric Reid, CIO at the US Office of the Comptroller of Currency which supervises American banks, was worried early last year that some of the sophisticated Veritas network storage management facilities he had been using in tandem with Backup Exec version 8 might lose support and whatever replaced them might not meet the OCC’s future needs. Having seen that version 9 fell short of his requirements, he got his office onto the beta program for version 10.

The OCC runs more than 120 servers with data backed up to six central “media servers”, a flow of around two terabytes a day. The IT unit contracts to handle that much storage on behalf of its clients — the OCC business units — and to use it to test disaster recovery procedures, but the actual volume may increase substantially on some days, often because of trivial, personal and outdated content which did not really need to be backed up.

The backup suite’s facility to detect irrelevant file types helps keep the backup volume within bounds of agreements and within the prescribed time window for backing up.

While the primary backup copy is secured offsite, a second backup is taken for short-term restore if needed. This had to be organised manually under the previous system but is now automatically generated.

Overall, “it’s a great product”, Reid says.

Are there any holes? “We have to do some custom reporting specific to disaster recovery” which is not currently provided, Reid says. “We’ve already addressed it with the Veritas design team and they’re hoping to implement it in their next release.”

Bell visited New York as a guest of Veritas

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