Does anyone find it somewhat ironic that backup software providers are spending more time and effort to make sure that the backup and recovery of both physical and virtual machines (VMs) take no time? This is being driven by enterprises who increasingly expect application backups and recoveries to occur without waiting. So to better meet these rising expectations, Symantec NetBackup™ 7.1 got cozier with Symantec’s NetBackup RealTime software to provide the near real time backup and recovery functionality that enterprises increasingly want.
In a previous blog entry I examined how Symantec, as part of its NetBackup 7.1 release, had upgraded NetBackup’s management of VM backup and recovery jobs with its new Virtual Machine Intelligent Policy (VMIP) feature. VMIP identifies when backups jobs are scheduled to run on specific VMs, what resources are available on the underlying hosts and then schedules backup jobs to execute in accordance with the availability of resources on those hosts.
In scheduling these backup jobs VMIP presumes that:
- The application has a backup window
- The data being backed up can be backed up in the backup window
- The previous night’s backup is sufficient from a recovery point objective (RPO)
- The application’s recovery time objective (RTO) is at least 30 minutes if not a few hours
- The amount of data being recovered fits in the application’s RTO window
But on physical as well as virtual machines these presumptions do not always hold true. Backup windows for business critical applications for both physical and virtual machines may be non-existent while user expectations for faster recoveries, either local or remote, continue to rise.
To meet these rising expectations the relationship between Symantec’s NetBackup 7.1 and NetBackup RealTime just got cozier. NetBackup RealTime has provided continuous data protection (CDP) for both physical and even virtual environments for some time. But as part of its NetBackup 7.1 release, Symantec added a number of features that improves how organizations can jointly use NetBackup with NetBackup RealTime to better manage their backups as well as minimize recovery times.
- Visibility into both “normal” and NetBackup RealTime VM backup jobs through vCenter. Enterprises are likely to have a mix of applications on their vSphere servers that call for “normal” backup jobs (differentials, fulls and incremental) as well as those that need NetBackup RealTime’s CDP functionality. However, prior to this release, vSphere administrators could not view NetBackup RealTime backup jobs in vSphere. Now both of these job types may be viewed through vCenter.
- NetBackup RealTime leverages NetBackup’s snapshot agent. One of the challenges of using replicated data in lieu of a backup copy is that the data may not be in an application consistent state making it unusable for recovery. NetBackup RealTime addresses these concerns by leveraging existing NetBackup agents for Microsoft Exchange Server, Oracle databases, SAP and VMware that periodically insert checkpoints into data that is protected by NetBackup RealTime. These checkpoints are then used to indicate where volume may be safely mounted to recover the application.
- Eliminate the need to restore the hundreds of GBs or TBs of data to do a recovery. Hundreds of GBs or even TBs of data may need to be restored before a recovery of a single large application such as one with an Oracle database can occur. Needing to restore this amount of data is also possible in virtual environments where a single vSphere host may have this much storage allocated for the multiple VMs it hosts.could take hours.
NetBackup RealTime eliminates this restore time through the use of virtualized disk volumes (referred to as TimeImages.) TimeImages are real time production copies of production data which can be presented to any host that has access to the NetBackup RealTime server. The point here is that these copies are available for immediate presentation to a host which eliminates the need to first restore the data.
More data and more VMs do not translate into more patient users who are happier that their backup and recovery jobs are taking longer. Rather it is more probable they will become less tolerant of any down time associated with either backup or recovery.
This is in large part why NetBackup and Netbackup RealTime are more closely joined at the hip in this release of NetBackup 7.1. By giving administrators the flexibility to simultaneously view NetBackup RealTime backup jobs in vCenter, leverage NetBackup agents to take application consistent snapshots and eliminate the need to restore large amounts of data before application recoveries can occur, NetBackup administrators can more easily adapt to meet whatever backup and recovery requirements that their organization throws at them without compromising the quality of their data.