New backup software from Symantec Corp. significantly cuts system recovery time, some industry insiders who have used the product say.

The software, they say, also simplifies the relocation of applications from physical to virtual machines.

A data management and hosting services provider says these features came in very handy for dealing with a systems crash.

The firm – Independence, Ohio-based Rampant Inc. – hosts data bases and e-mail servers for various organizations.

It says it was beta-testing the Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery 7.0 last year when one of its client’s systems went down.

“Restoring full functionality would normally have taken up to 12 hours, but Recovery 7.0 helped us get our client up and running within a couple of hours,” said Jerry Leskiv, IT administrator, Rampant Inc.

Leskiv did not identify the Rampant client, but said the speedy system restoration probably saved the firm a lot of angry customer calls and lost revenue.”

Recovery 7.0 really “shines” when it comes to enabling physical to virtual (P2V) machine transitions, says at least one Canadian analyst.

“The biggest benefit the product provides is the ability to switch from a virtual to physical realm, and restore a system in a different environment,” according to John Sloan, senior research analyst, Info-Tech Research Group Inc., in London, Ont.

Rampant, which has been beta testing Recovery 7.0 for more than six months, says the product simplifies and automates the restoration process.

The new disk-based system, Leskiv said, removes the need for manual recovery process by taking “snapshots” or capturing an exact copy of a system – including the operating system (OS), applications, system and user settings and data – in a single recovery point. “In case of a failure, IT administrators simply select the recovery point from where they want to initiate restoration.”

By contrast, manual recovery procedures entail completely reinstalling and reconfiguring the OS, applications and system settings. The process may even involve several system reboots and could take anywhere from four hours to several days, said Leskiv.

He said system snapshots can be set by administrators to suit various operational and business needs. “Recovery points can be scheduled for overnight capture, or as often as 15 minute increments.”

Windows applications are sometimes plagued with problems when they are restored to a different machine, according to Sloan. “In the event of a crash it’s not easy to restore Windows onto a different machine. Windows is device specific and tends to freeze up when relocated.”

He said Symantec did well to incorporate a P2V capability on Recovery 7.0.

The capability will be useful in a disaster scenario, where an organization might not have backup hardware readily available with the same features to restore its system on.

“With this product, you can transfer systems from one hardware machine to another, from a physical machine to a virtual machine or vice-versa,” said Sloan.

The software also has an Exchange Retrieve option that simplifies and speeds up recovery of an entire Exchange server or individual messages, attachments, folders and mailboxes, according to Michael Parker, group manager, product marketing, Symantec.

He said another feature, dubbed Backup Exec Retrieve makes it easier for users to recover lost files or folders without IT’s assistance. A similar search and retrieve capability, Parker said, is available via integration with Google Desktop.

Rampant uses Symantec’s Backup Exec 11 D software product to back up client files and databases. The company also uses the older Backup Exec System Recovery 6.5 software to take snapshots of its customers’ systems.

The company is now planning a move to the current version to take advantage of its added virtualization capability.

Recovery 7.0 supports Microsoft Vista, x64-bit computing, VMware ESX Server, VMware Server, VMware Workstation and Microsoft Virtual Server.

Symantec Backup Exec System Recover 7.0 sells for US$1,095 (Can$ 1,230.0) and US$69 (Can$77.5) per workstation. For Windows Server customers the Backup Exec for Windows Server System Recovery option sells for US$695 (Can$780).

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