Symantec Boosts Backup Exec, NetBackup With Dedupe, Virtualization


Symantec is focusing on flexible deduplication and the ability to work with a wide range of virtualization technologies in the latest versions of its Backup Exec and NetBackup data protection software applications.

Symantec Monday introduced Backup Exec 2010, which now integrates optional deduplication technology and adds support for VMware and Microsoft virtualization technologies. Symantec also introduced NetBackup 7, which offers multiple deduplication technologies as well as complete virtual machine protection.

The new versions of Symantec's flagship data protection applications come as the amount of information being stored is far outpacing IT budget and staff growth, said Matthew Lodge, senior director of product marketing at Symantec's Information Management group. They also come as virtualization is changing the way data centers have to address data protection and security, especially as customers start adopting cloud computing, Lodge said.

"Customers don't want any 'CNN moments,' " he said. "When organizations lose information, they make the headlines."

Both applications now offer three ways to implement data deduplication, which removes duplicate information as data is stored, backed up or archived. Depending on customer requirements, the dedupe can be done at the client/server level, which requires lower bandwidth and less storage capacity; at the media server, which requires extra hardware but frees the servers' processors of the overhead; or via a third-party dedupe appliance, Lodge said.

That third method takes advantage of Symantec's Open Storage Technology (OST), which, when done in conjunction with its data protection software, allows storage devices to automate the backup of data between multiple appliances.

This "Dedupe Everywhere" strategy is completely new for Backup Exec, Lodge said. For NetBackup, it represents a major improvement over the PureDisk solution Symantec used in the past, he said.

Adding dedupe is something Symantec had to do, said Keith Norbie, vice president of sales at Nexus Information Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based solution provider who works with Symantec and other storage software vendors.

"CommVault has been out for a while with dedupe," Norbie said. "EMC with Avamar has been doing real well. Symantec has to have a competitive response to remain in the long-term fight."

Also new with Backup Exec 2010, which is targeted at midrange business customers, is unified archiving due to the embedding of Symantec's Enterprise Vault technology, Lodge said. Enterprise Vault allows the archiving of Microsoft Exchange e-mails and files into a separate archive. It can be used to store those files in separate archives, and to delete the original data as needed.

Backup Exec 2010 also includes granular data recovery technology for use in virtual environments, Lodge said.

Previous versions let customers back up Exchange, SQL and Active Directory data and restore individual e-mails. With Backup Exec 2010, however, customers will be able to back up virtual servers that include such data, and then restore individual files to either virtual or physical servers, he said.

The new capability works with both VMware's vSphere 4 and Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization technologies, Lodge said.

NetBackup 7 has the "Dedupe Everywhere" capabilities as well, Lodge said. In addition, NetBackup 7 ties dedupe into virtual environments to back up less data than in the past from virtual servers, which increases both backup and restore speed. "With dedupe, 85 percent less CPU power is used for virtual machines during backups," he said. "The CPU is doing less work."

Symantec also increased the granularity of virtual machine data recovery, which Lodge said is important considering a physical server may host 15 or 20 virtual servers.

NetBackup 7 now also includes better disaster-recovery capabilities and the ability to manage the backup of information at all of a customer's sites with a single console.
Symantec's biggest challenge will come as customers look toward more managed services, which often include a no-name managed storage service, Nexus' Norbie said.

"There are several across the country," he said. "Nexus even has a low-end solution. VARs and others can come out with their own offerings. And the biggest challenge of all is that customers of managed backups don't care about dedupe. They only care about SLAs [service level agreements]."

Backup Exec 2010 is scheduled to ship on Feb. 1. Starting price for the media server license and basic maintenance is $1,174. However, customers can save between 20 percent and 40 percent by purchasing Backup Exec 2010 bundled with the dedupe and/or the archiving options, with total bundle pricing expected to be between $2,708 and $3,888.

NetBackup 7 is also slated to ship on Feb. 1. It is priced starting at $7,995 for an Enterprise Server and five client licenses.