Symantec Unifies Physical, Virtual and Hybrid Backups With Backup Exec 2012

The latest iteration of Backup Exec brings advanced backup capabilities to multiple storage technologies. It also improves the data backup and restoration process for IT administrators using virtual, physical and hybrid storage technologies.

Symantec's Backup Exec 2012 has evolved from its once humble roots to a complete backup and recovery environment that works across platforms, storage technologies and even the cloud.

Although the core Backup Exec application has been around for decades, the latest iteration feels anything but old. Symantec has given new life to the product with a major redesign that combines ease of use with the sophistication to handle multiple, concurrent backup events from a variety of devices and storage technologies.

I last reviewed Backup Exec several years ago and was surprised at how much the product has changed. The latest version, Backup Exec 2012, has a starting retail price of $1,662 and features a completely redesigned GUI, along with a plethora of new and enhanced features.

I installed Backup Exec 2012 into a multi-server Windows environment that consisted of two Windows Server 2008 R2 systems, as well as three virtualized Windows 2008 R2 servers, which were configured under both Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware ESXi environments.

Installation was uneventful, which is a good thing, especially considering the complexity of Backup Exec and what it does behind the scenes. Perhaps the biggest enhancement offered by Backup Exec 2012 is its focus on disaster recovery. Symantec claims BE2012 now offers a complete recovery environment for physical and virtual servers.

I found that Symantec was dead-on with their claims and that BE2012 was indeed able to quickly recover complete servers, both physical and virtual in a matter of minutes. I tested that capability by using the products administration console to schedule complete backups of all servers in my test environment. I had that schedule execute overnight and was presented with a comprehensive backup report the next day. Backups were speedy. However I did have some very basic configurations set up and only about 30Gbytes of files in my test environment.

I simulated a disaster by removing the hard drive in a Windows 2008 R2 server, which contained the VHDs (Virtual Hard Disks) for my Hyper-V based Windows Servers. I also replaced the server running VMware ESXi with a similar system to simulate a “bare iron” type of restore.

I was able to restore my servers without a hitch, just by following the instructions provided by Backup Exec's DR module. I only had to do a minimal amount of pre-configuration work on the new hardware introduced and Backup Exec 2012 pretty much handled the rest.

One of the most powerful features offered is BE2012's ability to convert a backed up server into a virtual machine. Here, I was able to select one of my backed up servers and then quickly transform it into a virtual server.