Today's enterprises often have terabytes of data files scattered across multiple storage networks, servers and desktop PCs. Add to that the issues of compliance, security and auditing, and it becomes easy to see why so many backup technologies have started to fall short of enterprise needs.
Symantec is looking to bring order to the chaos of enterprise backups with Veritas NetBackup PureDisk Version 6.5.1, a product that melds several backup technologies under a single umbrella to ease the backup process.
The latest iteration of Symantec's enterprise backup and deduplication suite is aimed at enterprise networks, both large and small. The product's claim to fame comes from the integration of several backup technologies into a single product that eliminates the need for specialised hardware and tape-based storage.
NetBackup PureDisk employs advanced technologies such as deduplication, bandwidth optimisation, granular backup policy controls, compression and encryption to bring efficiency, speed and ease of management to the forefront of the enterprise backup market. Some of the advanced features are the result of Symantec's 2006 purchase of Revivio, a company known for its Continuous Data Protection technology. Symantec has successfully integrated Revivio's technology into NetBackup, and has upped the ante with deduplication, extensive client support and branch office connectivity, all managed with a single, comprehensive console.
Symantec has done its best to keep complexity to a minimum, but NetBackup PureDisk is still a very complex product that takes significant network management savvy to master. The product is far from plug-and-play easy but, considering the extensive feature set, the company has done a decent job in automating many of the tasks and building wizards to perform other complex chores.
Looking at the individual components of the product, it becomes easy to see why complexity enters the equation. NetBackup PureDisk is based on a software appliance, which runs on a modified version of Suse Linux. As a software appliance, administrators can scale the product pretty easily by throwing as much hardware as needed at it.
The software consists of three primary parts, starting with the software appliance which is aptly named a NetBackup Media Server. Part two comes in the form of the backup clients. Each system to be backed up needs to run a small piece of client software provided by Symantec. The company offers clients for various flavours of Windows Server, as well as Red Hat Enterprise Server, Suse Linux Enterprise Server, IBM-AIX, Solaris, HP-UX and Mac OS.
Symantec also provides clients for popular applications such as Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL Server. Currently, there is no direct support for Windows Desktop operating systems, Oracle, IBM DB2 or MySQL. But savvy administrators should be able to create scripts or batch files that will allow these non-supported applications to be backed up.
The final piece is the PureDisk Storage Pool, which is simply the storage target for backups. A storage pool consists of many different types of disk storage, ranging from storage area networks (SANs), to network attached storage devices and direct attached drives.
The three elements can be deployed in several different ways or combinations, depending on the network infrastructure and the number of remote sites, if any.
For example, if deploying the product in a datacentre that supports multiple remote offices, an administrator will install backup clients on each of the systems at the remote sites, and then deploy a NetBackup Media Server at each remote site. The datacentre will also have a NetBackup Media Server, and the PureDisk Storage Pool is likely to be located at the datacentre as well. Of course, there can be various permutations of this setup.
In practice, the solution works by performing backup processing, including deduplication and compression, at the local site, which significantly speeds up the backup process while reducing the overall size of the backup that has to be transmitted back to the datacentre. Other variations of this setup may include configuring additional Netbackup media servers for load balancing and failover, and additional storage pools for data mirroring or failover.
We tested NetBackup PureDisk by setting it up as an 'all-in-one' configuration. That meant a single 'node' solution, where all NetBackup services are installed on a single machine, as opposed to installing the metabase server, metabase engine, storage pool authority and content router on different systems. Our single node was installed on an HP server class system, running a pair of Xeon CPUs and 8GB of RAM. An 'all-in-one' or 'single node' installation is the simplest and most basic way to set up the product, and is appropriate for smaller enterprises or branch offices.
Setup consisted of installing the NetBackup PureDisk operating system, PDOS, which is based on Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10 with Service Pack 1 (SLES10 SP1). Hardware compatibility is determined by the requirements of SLES10 SP1. Simply put, if the hardware can run SLES10 SP1, then it will be fine for PDOS.