Symantec has introduced a new version of its venerable Backup Exec Windows data protection software that effectively changes the focus of the product from backup to recovery.
The latest edition, called Backup Exec 11d, offers CDP (continuous data protection) for Microsoft Exchange, allowing users to recover critical data within seconds, said Michael Parker, senior manager of product markets for Symantec, of Cupertino, Calif.
"With this version, we allow IT to get back individual Exchange messages, folders and mailboxes granularly, but without mailbox backup," he said. "Usually, getting to that level of granular recovery down to a single item meant you had to do a full database backup and then a bulk mailbox backup. This way there is no mailbox backup, and [Backup Exec 11d] tracks the entire transaction log."
By adding CDP capabilities for file systems, Symantec may be playing a bit of catch-up—many CDP applications already provide support for these mission-critical applications—but its a good move, said Lauren Whitehouse, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, of Milford, Mass.
"The cumbersome process of backing up to and restoring from tape was replaced with a streamlined backup/recovery process that happens continuously as users write to systems equipped with a continuous protection agent," she explained. "This eliminates the concept of the backup window and makes recovery easier."
The new edition also allows IT administrators to recover individual documents from Microsoft SharePoint and Active Directory components, as well as from SQL 2005 snapshots, via standard backup.
Enabling this type of granular recovery is possible because of a new feature Symantec recently developed—the patent-pending Granular Recovery Technology, which allows users to perform standard backups while retrieving individual items.
"Think of it as a reader," explained Brian Greene, Symantecs director of product management. "It looks at the full backup and presents back to the user all of the things inside databases, especially SharePoint, Exchange and Active Directory. For SharePoint, it shows them individual documents; for Active Directory, all of the properties and users. Then it offers quick random access to get anything they want, instead of bringing everything back."
The newest version of Backup Exec also incorporates 128- and 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption.
"Encryption is one of those things customers really want, but it can have a potential performance impact on their servers, so sometimes customers will enable it, take a performance hit, and then quickly disable it," Greene said. "So weve given them the option. If they want to encrypt the data on their production servers or if they are backing up to disk, they can encrypt it on the media server before it goes to tape. It moves the encryption process away from impacting their servers."
Other new features for Backup Exec 11d include support for x64-bit Windows environments, as well as NDMP (Network Data Management Protocol) support, which allows the product to protect NetApp Filer and support products such as Oracle RMAN/RAC, IBM DB2, Mac OS X, HP-UX, Solaris 10 and SUSE 10 clients.
With the amount of competition Symantec has for Backup Exec—everything from CA ARCserve, Yosemite Tapeware and CommVault Galaxy to BakBone NetVault and Atempo—upgrading Backup Exec with these features makes good business sense, Whitehouse said. Of these, ARCserve, CommmVault, BakBone and Atempo have CDP or near-CDP capabilities for Exchange, SQL and SharePoint. But given the popularity of Backup Exec, especially in the Windows world of small and midsize organizations, workgroups and remote offices, "as long as the product keeps pace and continues to innovate, it will be competitive with the rest of the pack," she said.
And Symantec seems determined to continue its innovation trend.
"Were going all about recovery," Parker said. "Moving forward with Backup Exec, youll see a lot of focus on recovery, and youll see more integration across all of the products, and within the product."
Symantec Backup Exec 11d will be available on Nov. 6.