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-- by Richard Furnival
A decade ago, during Big Iron's glory days, most corporate data resided on centralized mainframes. Data was easy to back up and restore, and file management was effortlessly handled by administrators ensconced in their hidden enclaves. But with the rise of local area networks, client/server systems and the Internet, data is now widely decentralized-making storage management a complex undertaking for even the most astute network managers, and Windows NT administrators in particular.
Ever since NT arrived in 1993, it has contributed to the growing number of heterogeneous networks, prompting network managers to seek a solution that can back up nearly any client or server operating system (DOS, Windows 3.x, 95 and NT, MacOS, NetWare, UNIX and OS/2) to Windows NT servers.
The search for enterprise backup products is a critical one. According to a recent survey of 1,300 chief information officers (CIOs) by Ernst & Young and InformationWeek (WINDOWS Magazine's sibling publication), 54 percent of companies suffered a major financial loss related to data protection in the last two years; many of the losses topped $1 million. Backup and restore software is one of the best ways to protect against such losses.
Even as recently as one year ago, there were few enterprise backup solutions for NT. Most initial NT backup offerings didn't scale beyond small workgroups, and Windows NT utilities didn't help matters. Last year, WINDOWS Magazine examined the backup utility that ships free with NT Server and Workstation (see Enterprise Windows, April 1996). While adequate for general use, the utility doesn't fulfill critical enterprise backup requirements, such as remote server and client crash recovery, automated tape rotation and distributed management.
Today, your NT backup choices have improved dramatically. Numerous software companies-including Barratt Edwards, Cheyenne Software (acquired by Computer Associates late last year), HiComp, Legato, Octopus, Seagate Software and Veritas-are offering vastly improved NT backup products in an effort to cash in on NT's growing popularity.
Cheyenne, Seagate and Legato are the obvious places to start when evaluating NT backup software. The three companies control more than 70 percent of the NT backup market (some estimates place that figure even higher)
When you assess an NT backup product, and before you deploy it, consider the following enterprise features:
Cross-platform support: An enterprise backup solution should be able to back up and restore all client and server operating systems on your network.
A single management console: A properly designed backup application is capable of backing up and restoring data even on large networks from a single management console.
Integration with enterprise management platforms: Network management platforms such as Computer Associates' CA-Unicenter, Hewlett-Packard's OpenView, IBM's NetView and Microsoft's System Management Server (SMS) can all automate some network management tasks. An enterprise backup solution that works hand-in-hand with these products can be a real advantage for the harried LAN administrator.
Online ("hot") backup of mission-critical applications: Many enterprise networks now operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet the needs of geographically dispersed companies. This means that networked applications must remain online even during a network backup.
Automated backup scheduling: An enterprise backup solution should provide its own scheduled management software to automate the backup process.
Automated tape rotation (additional hardware usually required): This can ensure that the proper target tape is used for each backup event. In addition, some large enterprise networks may require multiple tapes for a single backup operation.
Fast performance (RAID and image support): As with hard drives, RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks) support can improve data reliability or data throughput with data striping and multiple device access. Disk imaging can provide faster data throughput with direct disk-sector access, bypassing the high-level file system. These performance gains can be invaluable.
Scalability via SMP: Much has been written about NT's ability to increase performance through SMP (symmetric multiprocessing). In reality, software-including backup applications-must be programmed and tuned to exploit the benefits of SMP.
Data integrity verification and notification: Most backup programs can verify that data on the backup device matches data on the computer being backed up. Within an enterprise system, it's critical that administrators are notified when the verification reveals discrepancies so they can take corrective action.
Advanced status alerts: Advanced alerts describing the status of servers, clients, backup devices and backup media can ease enterprise management. Fully capable enterprise backup software should be able to notify an administrator via e-mail, pager or fax that a critical failure has occurred.
Reporting: Software that can document every backup operation with clear, concise event reports offers a major advantage for busy administrators.
Disaster recovery: When disaster strikes, backup software that quickly restores critical network components will help reduce your stress level-and minimize your company's lost productivity.
After you identify your backup requirements from the list above, it's time to find the product that best fulfills your network's specific needs. As mentioned, a safe place to start is with the three leading NT backup solutions: Seagate Backup Exec 6.11 for Windows NT, Cheyenne ARCserve 6 for Windows NT and Legato NetWorker 4.3.
Seagate's security blanket
Seagate's Backup Exec 6.11 for Windows NT (acquired when Seagate purchased Arcada Software last year) is available in two versions-Single Server ($695) and Enterprise Edition ($1,295). The Single Server version is adequate for small networks with autonomous workgroups. The Enterprise Edition, whose features are described below, is the better choice for large, multiserver networks.
Backup Exec's Enterprise Edition offers centralized administration and monitoring, including a single console for backup management. The Enterprise Edition also supports most client and server operating systems. In addition to being compatible with multiple NT file systems (FAT, VFAT, HPFS and NTFS) and all NT-supported hardware devices, Backup Exec is compatible with numerous autoloaders and standalone tape drives.
Its other features include Windows NT Registry backup; disk grooming to free hard disk space by archiving inactive files; and advanced file selection to quickly locate files by drive, filename and other variables. Unattended backups are fully supported, but SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) messaging and alert notification is optional.
When disaster strikes, a backup product is worthless if it doesn't support a wealth of restoration features. To help in data restoration, Backup Exec offers complete listings of all file versions stored on tape, and Fast File Access (FFA) for high-speed data access.
On the administration front, Backup Exec boasts a global network view, which lets you see all attached servers and their associated shares without requiring drive-letter mapping. There's also Windows NT event log support, a job history window, SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) alerts and remote administration via NT's RAS (Remote Access Service)
Though Backup Exec is the most established NT backup product on the market, it is facing stiff competition from Cheyenne.
Cheyenne, the de facto standard for NetWare backup, was admittedly late to the NT backup market. After stumbling from the gate, the company finally delivered ARCserve 6 for Windows NT last summer and shortly thereafter merged with Computer Associates. Together, CA and Cheyenne are striving to redefine enterprise systems and storage management. Cheyenne claims that the merger and the ARCserve 6 for NT release have allowed it to almost pull even with Seagate in terms of market share (see sidebar "CA and Cheyenne Chart NT Strategy")
ARCserve 6 NT is a multitasking, multithreaded enterprise software solution. It features a graphical management application for all network backup and restore operations under the control of individual servers. ARCserve 6 uses a client/server architecture to allow unattended backups of all network resources, and supports all tape drives and other devices supported by Windows NT.
ARCserve 6 for Windows NT comes in three versions: Enterprise ($1,395), Single Server ($795) and Workstation ($295). Unlike the Enterprise version, the Single Server and Workstation versions don't include ARCserve client agents. Also, you can install ARCserve Workstation only on NT Workstation. The features discussed below apply to the Enterprise version.
ARCserve 6 differentiates itself from the competition with the most extensive list of enterprise options, such as online backup agents for Microsoft Exchange Server, SQL Server, Lotus Notes and SAP R/3. RAID and Image options are also available; you can implement them individually or in tandem for even higher data-transfer rates. That performance comes at a cost, since the RAID and Image options together cost $3,000 over and above ARCserve's price.
Like Seagate's Backup Exec, Cheyenne's ARCserve 6 offers full NT file system support, along with agents for all popular desktop and server operating systems.
Cheyenne has paid careful attention to NT's Registry by allowing the full or partial backup of Registry hives at any level. This can be a major advantage when you need to undo a problem created by a poorly behaved software installation program.
Thanks to tape cascading, unattended after-hours backups are a snap with ARCserve. For example, if a tape becomes full during a backup operation, the backup will automatically continue by using the next available tape. ARCserve's parallel streaming feature builds on this approach by supporting concurrent backups to multiple tape drives for increased data throughput.
ARCserve includes a virus scanning engine based on InocuLAN, Cheyenne's family of antivirus products. This feature lets ARCserve alert an administrator before an infected file is backed up-though you'll need the full InocuLAN for Windows NT product ($995) to disinfect and fully protect such files.
On the scalability front, ARCserve 6 for NT initially didn't scale on symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) servers. Cheyenne says it has since addressed the SMP problem with a software patch.
Hot on the heels of Cheyenne and Seagate is Legato, a seasoned UNIX storage management company that is now trying its hand at NT backup-and winning kudos from Microsoft. Microsoft recently chose Legato's NetWorker as the backup platform for the Microsoft Network (MSN)
NetWorker 4.3 for Windows NT is a true client/server application that supports almost every popular server and client operating system. Complete interoperability is achieved between any server from any client using any backup device available on the network. This impressive connectivity has a price: NetWorker's installation is more complex than other backup solutions.
NetWorker supports all Windows NT, NetWare and UNIX-based networks and, by extension, all clients running on these various systems. Both IPX and TCP network protocols are supported, but Legato recommends TCP because of its more common platform support.
NetWorker is available in a Server Edition ($995) and Network Edition ($2,750). The Network Edition has all the Server Edition's features and extends these features to all network clients. Clients that do not perform backup or restore administration require a client access license (starting at $130 per client) to be backed up or restored.
NetWorker can back up a remote client PC without requiring a logged-in user. Similarly, remote servers on a network may be backed up from a single console using parallel streaming and concurrent backup devices. If that remote server happens to be an NT Server, its Registry and Event Log will enjoy full backup protection.
If and when you're forced to do a restore, NetWorker offers desktop client access, a nifty feature that lets authorized workstation users restore their own files from backup servers.
On the administrative front, NetWorker boasts Unified Logon Support
(a single point of administration for the configuration, scheduling or monitoring of all backup and restore operations), scheduled backups, and integration with HP OpenView Network Node Manager, Microsoft SMS and SunNet Manager.
To decide which NT backup platform best suits your enterprise network, head for the Web, where Legato (firstname.lastname@example.org/forms/nw-form.html">http://email@example.com/forms/nw-form.html), Cheyenne (http://www.cheyenne.com/register/arc6ntkeys-link.html) and Seagate (http://www.smg.seagatesoftware.
com/winteval.htm) each offer free trial versions of their products for download. In other words, the perfect NT backup product for your enterprise may be only a few mouse clicks away.
Richard Furnival is a professional engineer and network administrator at Sullivan, Donahoe and Ingalls, Professional Corp. in Fredericksburg, Va. Richard is a frequent contributor to WINDOWS Magazine and can be reached care of the editor at the e-mail addresses here.
Sidebar -- NT Backup's Big Three
Product: ARCserve 6 for Windows NT
Vendor: Cheyenne Software 800-243-9462, 516-465-4000 http://www.cheyenne.com/
Price: Enterprise, $1,395; Single Server, $795; Workstation, $295
Memory requirements: 16MB RAM; 10MB disk space
Platforms: x86, Alpha, Mips, PowerPC
Pros: Good choice for mixed NetWare/NT shops; Explorer-like interface; UNC filename support; open file backup
Cons: No single-console support; slightly higher price than Seagate
Product: Backup Exec 6.11 for Windows NT
Vendor: Seagate Software 800-327-2232, 407-333-7500 http://www.smg.seagatesoftware.com/
Price: Enterprise, $1,295; Single Server, $695
Memory requirements: 16MB RAM; 5MB disk space
Platforms: x86, Alpha, Mips, PowerPC
Pros: Mature NT experience; single-console management
Cons: UNC filename support only with Enterprise Edition; lacks enterprise options offered by competitors
Product: NetWorker 4.3 for Windows NT
Price: Network, $2,750; Server Edition, $995
Memory requirements: 24MB RAM; 44MB disk space
Platforms: x86, Alpha
Pros: True client/server solution; extensive list of supported servers and clients; advanced parallel device support
Cons: Highest total cost (including client licenses); complicated installation
Copyright © 1997 CMP Media Inc.