The differences between small, midsize and large organizations may be many but when it comes to backup, they all seem to share one thing in common: a desire to speed up and simplify their backups. The challenge is that for each of these organizations to accomplish this they need to take different paths to do so. This universal desire for better ways to do backup was the impetus behind many of enhancements found in today’s announcements of Symantec Backup Exec 2012 and NetBackup 7.5 (though I will be covering the new NetBackup features in a separate blog entry tomorrow.)
The concerns that Symantec heard expressed from both current and prospective customers regardless of their size about their respective backup challenges are remarkably similar. These include:
- Much of their data is protected in silos
- They miss their backup windows some or all of the time
- They treat physical and virtual backups separately
- They use multiple products to protect their physical and virtual environments
- Recovering data and doing disaster recoveries become more difficult in this environment
So while their backup concerns are the same, the ways that these organizations need to go about addressing them will vary according to how small or large they are. This is why Symantec today introduced different techniques for doing exactly that in its new Backup Exec 2012 and NetBackup 7.5 releases.
Backup Exec is targeted at small and midsize organizations so the new functionality introduced into Backup Exec 2012 reflect the specific concerns of these size organizations. One step that Symantec took was to revamp Backup Exec 2012’s interface so it takes less time for these users to get Backup Exec up and running in their environment. Then, once they are using Backup Exec, Symantec made it easier to backup more complex configurations.
For example, Backup Exec now discovers the servers in the environment and provides administrators with the ability to do at-a-glance assessments of their environment. So by just checking the Backup Exec console, they may quickly determine which servers are backed up, where backups failed and which ones have never been backed up.
Another step that Symantec took in Backup Exec 2012 was to simplify its approach to licensing for small businesses. In the past, they may have had to go back and obtain a license to backup Microsoft Exchange, then another to backup SQL Server and then yet another to backup some other application. In Backup Exec 2012, they pay one price and get a bundle of licenses with it for these applications.
A third step that Symantec took with Backup Exec 2012 was to break it into two distinct offerings for small businesses. The Backup Exec 2012 Small Business Edition is the on-premise version of the software that includes a bundle of licenses that they need to protect their environment.
Backup Exec.cloud is the web-based version of the product. In this implementation, there is no local backup server or data stored locally. Instead, the backup server is located in the cloud and accessed via a web-interface with all data directly backed up to and recovered from the cloud.
Small businesses trying to decide between the two will need to assess how much data they need to backup and how robust their WAN connection is. However if they are only protecting a few hundred GBs of data (and maybe up to 1 TB,) Backup Exec.cloud may be a viable option for them. Otherwise Backup Exec 2012 Small Business Edition is probably the better choice.
A fourth new feature that Symantec introduces in Backup Exec 2012 is a new V-Ray edition that is entirely focused on virtualized environments. One of the big trends is a growing number of SMBs jumping on the virtualization bandwagon and virtualizing their entire server environment. As they do, they only need backup software specifically designed for virtual environments.
The V-Ray edition of Backup Exec 2012 does exactly that. It is intended for environments that have 100% virtual workloads and can support either a VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V environment.
The final major feature that Backup Exec 2012 introduces is “no hardware disaster recovery.” The new flexibility this gives organizations is the opportunity to take a backup of a physical machine and convert that backup into a recoverable virtual image so organizations can now recover physical machines in virtual environments as easily as they can recover their virtual ones.
Since Backup Exec 2012 gives users the option to recover to either Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware vSphere environments, this feature potentially has application well beyond just DR. For example, users may now leverage this feature to explore migrating existing physical applications to virtual environments or bring up physical applications in virtual environments for testing and other purposes.
Overall a nice bundle of features in Backup Exec 2012 though I personally find the V-Ray edition and the physical recovery in virtual environments the two most compelling ones that users will find the most beneficial over time. Since NetBackup 7.5 had as many new features as Backup Exec 2012, I will devote another blog entry tomorrow to discussing the new features in that release.