Veritas Software Corp.s Backup Exec Suite links the companys popular Backup Exec software package to technologies that Veritas acquired in recent merger activity. eWEEK Labs tests show that the extent of integration in Backup Exec Suite, which shipped this month, is impressive. The suite made it easy to track data and protect it using the products replication and backup technologies.Components of Backup Exec Suite are priced separately: Backup Exec 10 is priced at $795 per server, Storage Exec 5.3 costs $995 per server and Replication Exec 3.1 costs $1,495 per server.Veritas SmartLink technology integrates the Storage Exec 5.3 SRM (storage resource management) platform and Replication Exec 3.1 data replication tool with Backup Exec 10. Although the SmartLink technology doesnt eliminate the need for three separate management interfaces (one for each software tool), it does a good job of forwarding tasks among the different tools. We used the Storage Exec SRM tools to locate files that hadnt recently been backed up, then used a link within our report to create a backup job and forward the job request to Backup Exec 10. Backup Exec Suites integration of SRM and backup tools is also important because it allows IT managers to prioritize backup jobs. Instead of tying up resources to back up files that havent been altered in several months, the SRM tool finds files and volumes that are modified frequently and prioritizes their backup. With well-tuned, prioritized backup schedules, IT managers can optimize their media use and reduce wear and tear on their backup devices. Indeed, SRM-linked backups are gaining popularity. Veritas archrival, Computer Associates International Inc., recently added integration with BrightStor Storage Resource Manager to its BrightStor ARCserve Backup package. Our tests show that Storage Exec 5.3 is a powerful storage management tool. In addition to its basic SRM abilities, Storage Exec 5.3 has proactive features that can help control storage abuse. Storage Exec 5.3 can also issue hard quotas, which prevent clients from writing data when they exceed their preset limits. Uniting storage and security management could greatly simplify end-to-end data management. Click here to read more. The Veritas suite makes clever use of Replication Exec 3.1 software to speed the backup process, creating a disk-to-disk-to-tape infrastructure. By implementing this infrastructure, IT managers minimize performance degradation on production servers. Using Replication Exec 3.1, we could easily replicate data from a production server to a secondary server and then have the tape backup job completed on the secondary server. SmartLink technology ensures the replica is consistent before giving the Backup Exec software the signal to run the tape portion of the backup procedure. Originally a Windows backup package for small companies, Backup Exec has added agent support for Linux and several other platforms. However, it still requires a Windows server, as does Replication Exec. Storage Exec 5.3 is also limited to Windows but provides optional support for Network Appliance Inc. filers. The backup exec suite features several useful enhancements to improve its manageability and performance. The new (and long-needed) Central Admin Server feature allows IT managers to remotely manage Backup Exec implementations from one console, making the suite suitable for large organizations. The Central Admin Server option allows IT managers to monitor backup operations and quickly make configuration changes when necessary. For example, the Central Admin Server Option allowed us to fail over a backup job from one server to another. Using the suites reporting component and job monitor tool, which tracks the progress of backup and restore jobs, we could see how the backup servers in our test networks were running and quickly find trouble spots. Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at email@example.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.