Backup Software Evaluation

Thursday, October 4, 2007 9:49:14 PM

 At work recently we had a pretty nasty failure.  One of our RAID arrays suffered a two disk failure.  Anybody who knows about RAID arrays knows that this is a very bad thing. I would have just rebuilt the array with new drives and restored from backup, except that our backups were rather...incomplete.  Now, I should have had these configured and validated, but who validates their backups anyways?

The reason there were no good backups, while a total cop-out for me, is our former DBA.  He setup full backups on a schedule and then transaction log dumps every hour.  The problem with this is that he had an error in his schedules and the last full backup was a year ago, though we did have transaction logs from the past two weeks, lucky us.  Another problem with this scenario is that it has to be setup for every database, so all those databases that we created over the past year, guess what, no backups.  There was one exception to this.  That would be the backup that I created.

Now, I do take full responsibility for not having accurate backups, because I should have installed a SQL backup agent on this server, it was the only one that I didn't do this with after the previous DBA left us.  I didn't trust his methods, and this vendicated me a little bit.  Unfortunately, vendication made me look bad, but such is life.

Our current backup solution is Computer Associates' Brightstore ArcServe backup, r11.5 SP3 to be exact.  The problem with this software is that it really sucks.  The Tape Engine crashes all the time, media pools don't release media on file system devices per your retention schedule, and failures need restarted from the beginning.

The two main vendors we are looking at include:
Symantec NetBackup, PureDisk and Enterprise Vault
CommVault Galaxy

Some of the features that I'm looking at include:
Synthetic Fulls
Job restarting at the failure point
Destination media failover
Reporting
Full array of agents
Exchange document level backups and restores
Disk to Disk to Tape

So far I'm leaning towards CommVault.  Their software is highly integrated, since it was all written in house and none of it required later integration.  Symantec likes to talk about how "integrated" their software is.  Feature A is now 50% integrated, whereas feature B is a whopping 80% integrated.  Seriously, backups are crucial to the survivability of a business, I need tight integration.

I'll be posting more information as I nail down the specifics and any issues we run into.

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