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Netting Out NetBackup

Buy a NetBackup Appliance or Build My Own?

Created: 01 Aug 2011 • Updated: 22 Jan 2013 • 15 comments
Phil Wandrei's picture
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I was recently asked, “Why would I buy a NetBackup appliance when I could buy the software and cheap JBOD?”

Initially, I was taken aback by the question.  However, after giving it more thought, I realized it was a fair question and an opportunity to explain the benefits of NetBackup appliances.

In responding to the question, I used the following analogy: 

My anniversary is coming up and do I:  make dinner reservations at my spouse’s favorite restaurant or decide to prepare the meal myself and we dine in?  Granted I can save some money by us eating in, and even skimp on the quality or cut of the steak, but what am I really saving?

To make an apples-to-apples cost comparison, the true costs of making dinner myself are the expenses and time to: 

  • Plan the menu
  • Create the shopping list
  • Shop (multiple stores:  groceries, wine, flowers)
  • Food preparation
  • Bake and cook
  • Set the table
  • Light the candles (it saves from having to clean the house)
  • Serve  
  • Enjoy Dinner (or am I stressed out by now?)
  • Cleanup

Two key factors that must be considered are: 

  • Resources:  do I have the time and skills as a chef and baker?
  • Risk:  what is the likelihood that something may go wrong?  I.e. I burn the steaks.  What is my backup plan?

Granted, there are people that have the skill, time, and enjoy putting together a great dinner.  However, for those of us that can not, I know a great restaurant that takes reservations.     

Getting back to the original question, why a NetBackup appliance?  The same steps for preparing the meal and celebrating a special occasion are very similar to a backup and recovery solution;

  • selecting vendors,
  • identifying the components,
  • ordering,
  • installation,
  • integration,
  • optimizing performance,
  • test,
  • cut-over into production,
  • managing patch updates and software releases,
  • operation,
  • maintenance support. 

Appliances provide significant OpEx savings by reducing and even eliminating many of these tasks. 

On the surface, all of the costs of the solution may not be apparent.  Do the homework, calculate the time and expense of the project and make an informed decision. This will ensure it is the right decision. 

To close with a final thought:  backup & recovery projects and anniversary dinners have one thing in common; you only have one chance to get it right.  Make the best of it! 

Comments 15 CommentsJump to latest comment

bartman10's picture

What do you meen by "manage patch updates and software releases" if I build my own PureDisk system? As far as I know PureDisk uses what Symantec calls PDOS (PureDisk OS) and is a custom build OS that Symantec patches and maitains through PureDisk patches? How is the management of patches on a NetBackup appliance diffrent that downloading and installing the latest PureDisk patch?

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Phil Wandrei's picture

was meant in the broader context of a "build your own" solution.  Many components; server, OS, storage, etc. require patches or updates. This can be time-consuming to track and cross-reference for compatibility, and then implement.  A Symantec NetBackup appliance eliminates the need to manage individual components, providing significant operational cost savings.   

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Mayur Dewaikar's picture

In the latest software patch we released for the NBU 5200 series of appliances, the appliances can auto detect the presence of new patches via an occasional check with the Symantec support servers. Customers can download the patch from within the GUI and install it directly from the appliance itself rather than separately downloading it from the support website, transfering it to the box and then manually applying it. All NBU appliances will have this update capability moving forward.

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Altimate1's picture

Hi,

"latest software patch"

You meant v2.0? I have cd a v2.0 reinstallation CD shipped with brand new 5200 but I don't yet see corresponding patch download.

Regarding v1.2 it this not obvious either or not this correspond to NetBackup 7.1 or stil 7.0.x, If you had tested it may be you can tell us.

"Customers can download the patch from within the GUI"

Could you clarify "GUI"? is it NBU admin console or OpsCenter?

My own 5200 is at "n5200 1.1.0.2" level.

Regards

Bernard

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gc9's picture

The drawback I see on the out of box appliance is that the limited disk space can only be scaled by adding more appliances.  It would be ideal if the appliance had either more direact attached storage or it would allow for network attached storeage.  Adding more appliances to scale causes footprint, power and cooling issues.  It seems like the only way around that is to build your own appliance (or meal)?

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Todd D. Woodward's picture

At the moment, yes there is a limit to the amount of disk space you can have without adding another whole Appliance (which has it's advantages and disadvantages). I think the NetBackup 5220 Appliance, which was recently released, goes a bit further in allowing the addition of a storage shelf that can be added. However, with the 5220 you're "limited" (if you can say "limited" without being accused of being sarcastic) to only one storage shelf for a total of 36 TB.

Then again, at what point should you move to a SAN infrastructure anyway? If you have an entire rack filled top to bottom with storage, is it really an "appliance" anymore?

Regardless, some of our Appliances come with Fiber Channel, so you can add SAN storage.

I like to say "It's the best tool for the right job, not one tool for every job." So for some of our customers building their own is what they prefer. For others, our Appliances are attractive and sensible solutions. And for others, they mix and match both their own servers and our Appliances.

So whatever works. We're flexible, just like our customers. :)

Todd D. Woodward
IT Supervisor, SOC Shift Lead – Appliances SOC
Symantec Corporation
www.symantec.com

Springfield, Oregon

 

 

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Altimate1's picture

Hi,

You said "so you can add SAN storage". Could you explain/confirm as for me:

  • You can connect N5200 to a SAN so that to connect a SAN library (not disk storage to be used by the appliance for dedup storage)
  • or connect N52x0 to a SAN so that to 'play' SAN media role (using SAN to effectively backup data to N5200 but still not for allocating disk storage for N5200 dedup storage)

May be I misunderstood something.

Regards

Bernard

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Mayur Dewaikar's picture

Hi,

I just want to clarify the statement above, neither NBU 5200 nor the 5220 can be connected to SAN library. All storage is shipped with the appliances and you cannot add external storage of your choice to these appliances. The idea of an appliance is that it is a fully self contained piece of equipment and so you don't need to go shopping for storage separately. Symantec provides everything you need from a software and hardware to run your backups.

Starting NBU 5220, we offer the ability to backup data over fiber to the NBU 5220 appliance. You can also replicate this data to another NBU 5220 over fiber. Hope this helps.

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Altimate1's picture

I agree regarding the pre-build solution which come with its own (Symantec provided) storage.

For me, library term stand for tape devices not for disk storage.

If you had a look here:

http://www.symantec.com/business/theme.jsp?themeid=nbu-appliance

It clearly tell us that 52x0 can be connected to tape devices for long term archiving.
I do not yet test this but will probably have a try at it later.

Regards

Bernard

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teiva-boy's picture

The great point about buying vs building, is ease of support and maintenance.  You're buying it because it's a turn key system that is pre-cocnfigured and is a known good configuration to work.  It's performance is repeatable, and patching the system shall be standardized.

Where as building your own would have different HBA's, RAID cards, processors, NIC's, firmwares, and more hardware differences.  Then there is the PDOS that has a limited HCL...  Getting Symantec to make you a driver takes a long time.  They used to do this early on, it took a couple months and lots of executive pushing.  Patching?  Well it was simple enough, but at the  same time there are hardware updates too that are independent of the "system."

Support?  Well what piece of hardware i the culprit?  Zoning, incorrect multi-pathing, bad HBA, blame the server maker, or the storage vendor?  I sold a lot of PureDisk and ran quite a few POC's and it was never a fun experience when the new HP DL380 G5/6/etc model came out and there were no RAID card drivers to get it to boot.  Or the NIC was too new for the SUSE appliance version used.

 

That said, buying an appliance is a good thing.  Sure it sucks having to buy all the storage up front even when you dont need it.  But thats no different than other appliance vendors that have been doing for years well before Symantec.  

There is an online portal, save yourself the long hold times. Create ticket online, then call in with ticket # in hand :-) http://mysupport.symantec.com "We backup data to restore, we don't backup data just to back it up."

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Phil Wandrei's picture

A point of differentiation is Symantec NetBackup appliance software licensing is separate or independent from its hardware capacity. The software license is based on the amount of front-end data to be protected. This provides purchasing flexibility and allows the user to time the purchase of the software licensing to the growth of their data.

To your point, the customer still needs to purchase the hardware storage up front.   

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fridmeister's picture

Is the device licensed for storage, regardless of the number of clients or applications I need to backup?  Or, will I need licenses for OS and application agents in addition to the appliance costs?

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Phil Wandrei's picture

NetBackup Appliances follow the same licensing as NetBackup software, which has two licensing models:  traditional or a capacity based model.

  • Traditional model licenses are essentially component based (i.e., based upon the OS type and the power of physical machine).
  • Capacity model licenses on the amount of data to be protected (front-end data). This approach provides customers with more flexibility by allowing them to focus on how to best protect data regardless of the type of machine or method of protection used (e.g., tape, disk) and where the data is stored (e.g., multiple sites). 

Both models support the use of NetBackup agents and options to optimize performance of applications and databases. 

The short answer is you have the choice of either model. 

If you are currently a NetBackup customer under the traditional model, and want to migrate to the capacity model, your Symantec account team can provide the details on changing. 

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effiko's picture

There is one big advantage of building your own 5220 appliance:

You do not need to have Symantec consulting move your master server from Unix/Windows to the new server provided you follow Technote TECH31385  and the following TECH77448 for Unix  or TECH77447 for windows.

That's an advantage of several $K

That's besides beeing able to service the hardware and not be dendent on NCR.

It would be nice if Symantec will come out with a wizard for partners which is simple and does not need special certifation to run.

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Phil Wandrei's picture

Replacing a master server is always a delicate operation, whether it is being replaced with a NetBackup appliance or a build your own master server.  We need to ensure the catalog and meta data, the “crown jewels” of backup and recovery, are successfully protected through the migration process. 

Thank you for your suggestion for a catalog migration wizard. We are always looking for ways to further enable our partners and allow you to be self-sufficient. 

I appreciate you highlighting the TechNotes as they are great resources in helping plan not only master server migrations, but other NetBackup administrative tasks as well. 

Regards, Phil  

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