How Much Time Do You Have?

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Lesson number one: Business continuity is not the same as disaster recovery. The impact of application failure on a business is a primary focus of continuity planning, of which data recovery is but a small part.

To illustrate the concepts simply, imagine a horizontal line with an X in the middle. This will represent a timeline of your customer’s disaster recovery plan. The X represents some event that brings down a business-critical application. Points to the right of the X are the hours or days needed to restore the system. This is known as the recovery time objective, or RTO. Points to the left of the X are states of data prior to the disaster to which the system could be restored. Also represented in hours or days, the left side signifies the recovery point objective, or RPO.

Notches in either direction represent how much time the business is able to lose without falling into hardship. And these times will vary based on how critical the application is to the business. While a grocery store could operate without e-mail for hours or even days, a failure of its point-of-sale systems would be catastrophic. Therefore, the RTO/RPO line for a grocery store’s e-mail system would be long, and that for its POS would be short.

Fortunately for users of CA’s ARCserve backup and recovery system, the time it takes to set up the software isn’t included in those timelines. Because it’s a time drain. For an application that’s been around since 1990 (when it was introduced by Cheyenne Software), we expected a more polished, easy-to-use GUI. Such was not the case, and unless you’re already familiar with ARCserve, the interface will seem clunky and unintuitive.


ARCserve Backup’s huge installer files require 3.6 GB of hard-drive space. ARCserve D2D required another 570 MB and Replication and High Availability occupied 674 MB. That’s nearly 5 GB in all.

The setup process, from first launching the installer to the point of being ready to create a backup job, took about two hours. The installer itself is fairly standard, and the installation-option descriptions are actually quite helpful for understanding what the options allow administrators to do. This helps avoid trips to the manual during setup.

Testers installed ARCserve 15 on a Dell R710 Server running Windows Server 2008 R2 and attached to a Dell EqualLogic PS6000XV storage array. Depending on the selected options, the installer also offers to set up exceptions to Windows Server’s firewall settings, an extremely helpful automated step. At the end, a list of installed components is displayed along with an indicator of those requiring additional configuration. The wizard then proceeds to configure them. If the disaster recovery option was selected, a form pops up asking for that machine’s name, domain and user credentials so it can create a boot kit.

CA requires a discrete license key for each component, an extreme inconvenience and supreme waste of time. Each key is a string of 25 alpha characters, and since we tested 32 components that would have meant inputting 800 characters for ARCserve Backup alone. We hadn’t even gotten to the other three packages. To save time, we keyed in just one key and selected “trial” for the other 31 components. We also ran into at least one bug. When trying to configure our test NAS, an error was displayed when ARCserver was unable to stop the tape library engine after it had already stopped it.

Backup Time

While, ultimately, we found Microsoft Server admin tools a better-performing option, if fast backup and restore are what you’re after, then ARCServe D2D (disk-to-disk) is the better choice. The tool backed up the same data set plus the size of its own disk footprint -- 60 GB total -- in about two minutes. And with its Replication and High Availability modules, CA can back up to Hyper-V or VMware images. Try that with a free tool.

The bottom line: The key to business continuity planning is to break it down. List the critical apps and decide how long the business can survive without them. Once you know your objectives for recovery time and recovery point, it’s easy to select a solution that meets those needs. ARCserve pricing is based on those situational requirements and is recommended by the Test Center for specific situations.

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