I’ve been involved with Backup Exec for more than 10 years and it’s the partnership between the product and customers that makes it all worthwhile. I’d like to offer you my personal perspective of how virtualization support has grown in Backup Exec over time and how new features are influenced by our customers.
Several years ago, it became clear that virtualization in the form of VMware and Hyper-V was fundamentally changing the way servers were deployed and managed.
During planning for Backup Exec 12.5, we believed that it was key to add support for protecting virtual machines. Given Backup Exec’s focus on Windows, we needed support for both VMware ESX 3.5 and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. Backup Exec offered protection and recovery for VMs on both platforms with the ability to restore files and folders without needing to recover an entire VM. We call this feature, “Granular Restore Technology” or GRT. For VMware, Backup Exec used Virtual Center 2.5 to provide administrators with a familiar view of their environments. It was great to see the expansion and acceptance of virtualization and the adoption of Backup Exec’s virtual agents by our customers.
Backup Exec 2010 supported later revisions of both platforms (ESX 4.0 and Hyper-V 2008). VMware customers were requesting incremental backup to VMware backups, so we added it. One of our most notable features in this release was GRT for applications including SQL, Active Directory and Exchange. With this technology, you could use a backup of an Exchange server to: perform a Disaster Recovery of the entire server, recover an exchange data store, or restore individual mailboxes and messages. It was a natural progression to extend this functionality to VMs, as we knew customers were readily deploying application servers in virtual environments. We also launched our Deduplication option which allowed us to take advantage of the inherent common files within VMs and reduce the storage needed for backups.
VMware released vSphere 4.1 and we followed suit with Backup Exec 2010 R2 which supported the new features. This is the first release that we became “VMware Ready Data Protection certified”. I like that Backup Exec was independently recognized as a product that supported the protection of VMware in an approved manner. We also added a couple of key features that were requested by the virtual administrators:
- Dynamic inclusion that assisted administrators in monitoring their virtual environment by discovering and automatically protecting virtual machines and folders that were added to the network.
- Monitoring and management from VMware’s vCenter via a plugin so administrators could see their protection status in a console they routinely use to manage their virtual infrastructure. We continually enhance this plugin with new features.
In Backup Exec 2010 R3, we added support for new features that were added in VMware ESX 5.0 and the vSphere 5.0 APIs. Notably, we added support for Storage Distributed Resource Scheduling allowing our protection of the VMs to account for the movement of storage. We also added functionality to improve deduplication reduction and throughput rates. We enhanced our vCenter plugin by integrating Symantec Application High Availability and VM backup validation.
The announcement of our Backup Exec 2012 V-Ray Edition is a giant leap forward with our virtualization partners. In the past, Backup Exec has been known for its ability to effectively support both physical and virtual servers. Backup Exec 2012 adds features that bridge the two. Administrators can now use their virtual environments to enhance the protection of physical machines, and conversely, they can seamlessly move physical machines into their virtual environments. For example, while you are backing up a physical server to disk, you can simultaneously create a standby VM that can be brought on line if the physical machine goes down. Or, you can use an existing backup that was written to disk and copy it to a standby VM that can be brought on line.
This may read like a Backup Exec feature list, but that wasn’t my intention. Responding to customer needs with innovative features is our ultimate goal, and I’m passionate about delivering a product that not only meets our customers’ needs today, but ensures that we deliver what is needed for tomorrow. Please reach out and let us know what features and improvements you would like to see in future releases. https://www-secure.symantec.com/connect/backup-and-archiving/ideas?product=1383.