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Symantec has turned data center backup into a turnkey operation. When the CRN Test Center posted its review of Symantec Backup Exec 2012 last year, we praised the software for its vastly improved user interface and new ability to back up all things virtual in the data center. The company further simplifies disaster recovery with Backup Exec 3600, a fully licensed Windows Server with Backup Exec pre-installed. The solution skips the time and intricacies of setting up a Windows Server and can be making backups of physical and virtual images within minutes of plugging it in.
Once out of the box, the Backup Exec 3600 sets up quickly. We skipped the default procedure, which suggests linking a laptop to its static IP address on Ethernet0. Instead, we connected to Ethernet1, and found it already set for DHCP. It accepted an IP address from our CRN Test Center lab server and within minutes we were able to point Google Chrome to the 3600's browser-based setup wizard. A recommendation on the login screen suggested using only "or later" versions of IE 7.0 or Firefox 3.0. That was sufficient encouragement for us to keep using Chrome (v28). Pages worked properly from our test MacBook Pro, but were prettier on Firefox.
Like most setup wizards, Symantec's keeps things simple by asking for tiny chunks of information at a time. Unfortunately, there appears to be no way for advanced users to circumvent the process or jump ahead or back. The included booklet provided no clue. Each of the networking, DNS, administrator and dedupe passwords, licensing, host name/time/date and domain must be entered one by agonizing one. Ironically, these wizards took more time than was required to configure our first backup.
The browser UI permits admins to monitor storage, RAID levels and health and alerts for the appliance and to manage its embedded software. That's all fine, but to create, run or debug backups and view logs and such requires access to the server console or a remote session. The browser UI provides a page with links to these major functions through Microsoft's Remote Desktop utility. When tested on the Mac, they got only as far as initiating a session.