Backing up the enterprise

Veritas Software Corp. says data retention and recovery come easy with its latest enterprise-class back-up program – but an industry analyst warns against thinking the process is too simple, lest it becomes ineffective.

Veritas recently released NetBackup Professional 3.5, a retention and restoration program that the creators say is simple to install and deploy.

“One of the nice pieces about the software is it can automatically install the client from the server,” said Craig Andrews, Veritas’ Canadian technical director. “We can install the software just on the server and push it out automatically to the client.”

The product takes data recovery out of the purview of end users who, truth be told, aren’t always as vigilant with protection procedures as they could be.

“It’s just human nature,” said Andrews. “(The back-up process is) cumbersome, it’s difficult. If you ask them to do it on floppy disks, floppies aren’t big enough…Mostly, it’s just awkward so people don’t do it.”

Network managers can tell the system to collect information at a particular time of day or during certain activities – for example, the moment an end user connected to the corporate network.

Now extended to work with Microsoft’s latest operating systems, Millennium Edition and XP, Version 3.5 shunts infrequently used data off the server and onto tape or disk. That’s a feature Veritas missed with the previous release, 3.1.

The program addresses policy procedures, designating what happens to whose data. User of the offering could configure the product to back-up five versions of the CEO’s latest document, but also set the system to keep just one version of a sales rep’s work.

Andrews said NetBackup Pro 3.5 speaks to companies whose workforces feature specialized employees – people whose data is important.

“These days there are a lot of mobile users – sales reps, financial advisors with critical information on their machines. Companies want to be able to protect that information…Traditionally, they’ve relied on the user. Experience shows that’s not very reliable.”

But Ray Paquet, an industry analyst with Gartner Inc., said companies should consider the human component of any back-up and recovery system. Veritas’ clients should have an idea of why they need the product in the first place, and how the procedure would ideally occur. Do you need full back-up capabilities, or merely incremental updates? Should the system record changes at the block level or at the file level?

When you know what you want from the program, move on to the real brainteaser: why do analysts, the media and vendors focus on the back-up process when users want to know about recovery times?

“We’re looking at the horse from the wrong end,” Paquet said. And time to recovery – the real deal in data retention – varies according to those policies NetBackup Pro 3.5 helps arrange.

It’s true, said Pierre Pellegrini, manager of desktop support services with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), which recently installed NetBackup’s latest product.

At ICBC, speed to restore is a function of the network, not the software. The company restricts bandwidth to individual nodes, particularly during peak traffic times. Although end-users would rather their data were returned in less than a minute, full restorations could take hours to complete.

But for Pellegrini, ease-of-use is even more important than recovery time, and he said NetBackup delivers with an interface much like the average Windows environment.

ICBC made the switch from 3.1 to 3.5 because of a problem the company encountered with the earlier version: a corrupted catalogue that would have required three days to rebuild. Instead of reconstruction, ICBC chose to replace the software.

Pellegrini said 3.5 addresses the very trouble ICBC ran into with 3.1. “It now keeps three versions of the catalogue, so if the first version gets corrupted we have two others to fall back on.”

NetBackup Professional 3.5 is priced at $100 per desktop. Learn more about the software’s creators online at

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