By Ned Fairweather, Senior Consultant
Symantec recently released NetBackup 7.5 for General Availability. The new release boasts several enhancements that broadens the NetBackup platform and streamlines previously daunting administrative tasks. The following are a few highlights:
- Cloud Services
- Replication Director
- NetBackup Accelerator
- NetBackup Search
Let’s start with the Enhanced Features first:
The Media Server Deduplication Option (MSDO) introduced with the advent of NetBackup 7 allowed users to create a deduplication target on local or SAN attached disk. Database restrictions did not allow the disk to exceed 32TB in size. NetBackup 7.5 doubles that limit and allows for up to 64TB of deduplication disk. Performance of the deduplication process has also been improved. Specific presentations of iSCSI disk are now supported with MSDO as well which lifts the requirement of fibre channel connectivity.
Symantec’s V-Ray technology is built into all their backup products. V-Ray leverages the inherent tool sets within leading hypervisors like Hyper-V and VMware and blends those capabilities with their Open Storage Technology (OST) plugins for deduplication disk devices. Recovery capabilities at the application level and new support for vSphere 5 are also touted in this version.
All businesses have either heard of and/or are investigating cloud based solutions for several different aspects of their IT infrastructure. Backup is a primary one. NetBackup 7.5 has introduced integration with several new public cloud providers. Symantec has also enhanced their encryption option for their cloud based backup solutions.
Now for the brand new features in NetBackup 7.5:
Symantec’s agnostic approach to the backup target technologies has always been a highlight of NetBackup. Their OST plugin which allows the hardware vendors to integrate seamlessly with NetBackup is reaching further into the foray of array management. NetBackup 7.5 has introduced a new feature called Replication Director. This is aimed at allowing NetBackup to control NAS device operations, like snapshots and replication, which formerly were handled at the array level. NetApp is the first vendor to work directly with Symantec on building a plugin for their platforms. Bringing that level of array management into NetBackup allows for the storage administrator to leverage a single pane of glass simplifying their day-to-day management.
Meeting backup windows to ensure the integrity of data and limit the impact on client systems is always at the core of an administrator’s daily duties. The process of identifying files for backup and changes to those files on a client system can be a time consuming task especially when a file system contains file counts in the millions. Traditionally NetBackup would walk the file system to identify what is required to be backed up at the start of a schedule. NetBackup 7.5 has created NetBackup Accelerator which uses a unique indexing system on the client to identify changes as they happen. This removes the requirement for NetBackup to process this during a backup window. Since changes have already been cataloged, NetBackup can immediately start its write operations. This new efficiency significantly decreases the backup windows for all clients including previously problematic ones. This technology also leverages what Symantec calls Optimized Synthetics, allowing the administrator to create a full backup from all the tracked changes similar to Symantec’s Synthetic backup option. Overall, NetBackup Accelerator has shown significant decreases in backup windows as well as decreasing the bandwidth and resource time associated with a traditional backup.
Legal holds are becoming more frequent as E-Discovery requests are typical of most companies’ litigation procedures. The last new feature added to NetBackup 7.5 is NetBackup Search. In the past, backup administrators would have to navigate through hundreds, if not thousands, of images in order to identify a custodian’s data footprint. This process is typically laborious and quite often cannot meet a legal team’s timetable. NetBackup Search streamlines this process and allows a backup admin to find the specified information efficiently and maintain the proper retention holds that a court may require. Additionally, NetBackup Search naturally dovetails with Symantec’s other E-Discovery products, Enterprise Vault and Clearwell, with the ability to import NetBackup information into those products and use their advanced capabilities.
In order to take advantage of these features, one can install a net new environment or upgrade an existing implementation. There are minimal requirements to upgrade and leveraging the Symantec 7.x portal is a great way to identify the best practices for upgrading, http://www.symantec.com/business/support/index?page=content&id=TECH74584. Any 6.x (End of Life for 6.x due in October 2012) or 7.x environment can be upgraded directly to 7.5. Of note, this particular upgrade merges the image catalog with the underlying NetBackup database. Merging the Enterprise Media Management (EMM) database with the image headers improves several notable issues with previous versions. While the upgrade to 7.5 may add some new complexities, it is poised to eliminate previous catalog consistency problems and improve performance for restores, scheduling, image cleanups, and searches in large catalogs.