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The license for Backup Exec 9.0 includes the ability to use "one robotic tape library," with additional libraries supported at an additional cost. Unlimited standalone drives are supported, however, and as Backup Exec 9.0 immediately finds Fibre Channel (FC) and SCSI drives, this shouldn't present a problem for the needs of many organizations.

Operationally, it consists of building a backup plan, managing devices, managing media, setting alarms and reports and then putting things into motion. The Backup Exec 9.0 documentation tends to put the cart before the horse, and a thorough read of the administrative documents is suggested.

Performance results were impressive, despite the fact that several of the platforms we wanted supported were only partially serviced. Backup Exec 9.0 blazed through Microsoft Exchange and bare metal Windows client restores. The mixed backup and restore wasn't as fast as some other backup products we tested--more about this comparison in my next article--but was well within acceptable limits.

Microsoft Exchange backup and restore options are stunning--and staggering. Few organizations that run Exchange 2000 have had error-free operation of Exchange for many reasons, ranging from logarithmic growth to various stability problems (viruses, Active Directory changes, etc.). It's possible when using Backup Exec 9.0 to surgically back up various components of Exchange components and stores in ways that can

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permit a rapid rebuild, should that become necessary. This is a place where a tight relationship with Microsoft has paid off for Veritas and Backup Exec 9.0 users.

The Linux relationship
Linux is more problematic. Bare metal restores aren't possible, and Backup Exec recommends that Oracle 9i running on Linux requires Oracle to be shutdown. We found that to be impractical, so it wasn't tested. Lotus Domino on Linux suffers the same fate. Macintosh support is acceptable, although Xserve is treated as a client and a number of processes with open files on Xserve are skipped. Bare metal restoration of Mac platforms seem to be restricted to OS/X (10.2+).

Overall, we found the user interface seductive, because it uses well thought-out menu selections. Management reporting and exception handling was also good. The alarm feature (a warning that the tape drive was offline) worked as advertised. Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) support isn't easy, but can be made to work.

Backup Exec 9.0 is a strong choice if an organization is highly Microsoft-focused and/or uses Microsoft Exchange. The lack of strong support for Linux as a platform may change, but the product is less of an enterprise platform for its lack of Linux and Xserve support.

This was first published in March 2003

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