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To upgrade? Or not to upgrade? Which is the question...

Created: 23 May 2011 • Updated: 02 Jun 2011
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CraigV's picture
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I've seen a number of forum topics where guys have been struggling with their Backup Exec installations, and some advice given has been to upgrade to a new version.

This is either met with instant acceptance, and a lot of further questions of where to get the latest version, how to go about it, pitfalls that can be experienced etc. However, quite surprisingly (or is it?), some OPs state they either have no intention of upgrading anytime soon, or state outright that will never be an option.

So which is the right choice? Well, neither, but here are compelling arguments for both sides...

To Upgrade...

New software is released constantly, bringing with it new enhancements, patches, tweaks and the like. Backup software vendors need to keep track with this, and in turn, release either new versions (like Backup Exec 2010 R3, which in itself is an enhancement on the previous 2 versions of BE if you're already using them), or patch their software with hotfixes, or service packs.

Along with this, software vendors, like Microsoft, would retire software from active support, leading other vendors to eventually stop supporting those packages as well. This places companies in a predicament...do we NOT upgrade, and stay behind in the tech race, or take the plunge and upgrade...sometimes at quite a cost, as it would mean a hardware refresh too (an example is Exchange 2010 only running on an X64 OS, which needs a server capable of doing that!).

In this case, upgrading makes sense. If your company has the budget, it places you in line with numerous other companies (sometimes your direct competitors too!) who have brought IT environments up to standard.

With each new version of BE, we're seeing new technologies being implemented. BE 2010's release saw deduplication being supported for the first time in Backup Exec, which change the way that companies would back up data. Archiving is another new technology brought in...IT admins would now be able to archive data and allow users to retrieve it at will.

Support for Exchange 2010, SBS 2011 (in BE 2010 R3), new hardware...all point to a need to upgrade to the latest version.

From my side, I generally upgrade a month or 2 after release. This allows me to keep current with my backup software. I am therefore current with what Symantec has to offer, and I am already on the front-foot with what is coming down the line technology-wise in our environment (currently Windows Server 2008 R2 and Exchange 2010). It's also just personal preference...it keeps us ahead of anybody else that we know of who is comfortable not changing their backup software, and allows me to prove to them that having the latest-and-greatest version out is worth the effort of getting it installed.

 

...NOT to Upgrade...

...if it ain't broke, don't fix. That would be most people's answers to this. They've used older versions of BE for so long, and with an environment that either doesn't change, or is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future, there would be no need too.

Cost could play a factor...the budget needed for upgrading infrastructure in terms of servers, storage, new OS licenses etc. would simply be too much for some companies. with no upgrades in sight, there would be no need to upgrade to a newer version of BE.

Some people are lucky enough to never have had an issue with their version of Backup Exec, and might be logging their first serious query. For this reason, they'd see no reason to upgrade. What has worked in the past, would surely continue working, especially if there isn't much "tinkering" on the software itself.

Lastly, upgrading could be a more long-term process. Many would rather let a particular version settle in...by this I mean they'd play a wait-and-see game...any issues that would crop up on initial release would be fixed with hotfixes, patches, or service pack releases, and once the major issues have been dealt with, they would then consider upgrading.

 

Which would be the correct choice? Neither...it depends on where you are with your company's technology, and where you want to be in the short- to medium-term. Many will continue to advocate upgrading as a means of fixing issues, or supporting new software/hardware, and this is the line I would take, and suggest personally. When you do so, however, is entirely up to you!

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