Some Backup Exec features you might not know about...
Backup Exec has a number of enterprise-type add-ons that can be used in a variety of ways. ADBO, CASO and SAN SSO can all be utilised to run more efficient backups, monitoring or management within a large-scale environment in which Backup Exec is deployed.
Having been on the forums a while, it’s interesting to see how people either intend using, or are using the products, and what follows below is a brief summary of each, and where applicable, how these have impacted the environment I worked in.
Advanced Disk-based Backup Option
If you’re considering synthetic backups, true image restores, or offhost backups, then consider the Advanced Disk-based Backup Option. This is licensed on the media server allowing you to do any of those 3 backup types.
The best source of information around ADBO is the BE Admin Guide, depending on the version you are using.
Central Administration Server Option is Backup Exec's single-pane solution to view an organisation's backups from 1 interface.
Effectively it means that backup admins no longer have to log onto individual servers, and instead can do all management and administration from 1 console. This increases productivity with less need to logon multiple times, and if configured properly, will also allow delegation of jobs to Managed Media Servers.
At it's most basic, CASO can act as a location to check backups only and pull reports, if you use BE's built-in reporting function.
What dictates how your CASO will function is where the catalogs will be located. They are either: local (on the media server, meaning CASO is used solely for checking backups); distributed/replicated (meaning that if the media server goes down, you can still recover backup files and media server information, and also restores from the CASO) or centralised (IF you choose this route, and your CASO dies, no backups are possible on the sites until this is rectified).
Some other features of CASO include:
* the ability to duplicate 1 server's backup to another server. This brings in an element of DR. If 1 server dies, data can be quickly duplicated from the "mirror" server to the server in question.
* Job delegation - you're able to use load-balancing across multiple servers in the environment.
* Configure backups on remote servers from the CASO instead of having to log on to each server.
* The ability to manage storage on multiple sites from 1 location without having to log onto each server.
* Restore of any MMS from 1 server.
However, the question to ask is when to use CASO? I installed it in an environment where I have 30 servers in different locations in African and Asia. I've seen some users want it for 3 servers on the same site, and in my mind, this becomes an expensive tool. Anything over 5 servers, and CASO starts to become a decent option.
SAN Shared Storage Option
SAN SSO is a licensed option within BE that allows you to utilise the speed of your SAN for backups and restores, moving you to a LAN-free backup solution.
It works by firstly licensing this option on your server, and running a wizard to configure SAN SSO. This shares your SAN-attached backup device (NOTE: NOT SCSI devices!) amongst other servers on your SAN that you want to use this with.
Once done, you’d load a full version of BE on a SAN-attached server with any agents, and then configure it to point to the primary SAN SSO server.
The primary SAN SSO server then controls which servers access the robotics and drives in the autoloader/library in terms of a when/how-type situation. This is a great option used in conjunction with CASO which could control the entire environment.
That said, CASO isn’t necessarily required with this. Jobs that might clash would access the device/s on a first-come, first-served basis and queue whilst waiting for available resources to become free.
This is a great option, especially if you have a large-scale environment in terms of big application servers (SQL/Exchange) or file servers. Throughput would be done at the speed of your SAN, which in turn would far exceed the speed of a LAN backup. This would mean shorter backup windows, and faster restores.
I implemented this on a SAN where the file server backup was exceeding 600GB of files of various sizes and types, but taking around 15 hours to backup over the LAN. The Exchange server was taking about 4 hours for around 150GB. Backups were being done to an HP StorageWorks MSL6060 with 4 x LTO2 drives, but backup windows were basically shot. Enabling SAN SSO on these 2 servers saw backups of the file server drop to around 6 hours, and the Exchange server to 90 minutes, meaning I could my jobs through in the defined backup window.
The 3 options are awesome additions to Backup Exec, and can assist in making life that little bit simpler with your backup environment. That said, they can become costly options, and in some cases like with CASO, are not really suited to a small environment. Sometimes this is sold on just to make a sale, or under a misguided idea that it is required.
All things considered, BE offers trial versions of 90 days for these, and if you want to check them out to see if they have value in your environment or not, invoke it and play around with the software. Just be aware of any licensing implications if you decide to use them in production, and consult your HCL (in the case of ADBO) and licensing guide for your version of BE to make sure all is supported.