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Big three apps adjust to disk-based backup

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While integration with disk is a huge focus for the major backup software vendors, other new product improvements include:

EMC Corp. NetWorker 7.3
Directed recoveries. Allows the backup server to restore backed up data to a different SAN-attached client than the one from which the backup was created--useful in the case of server failures or for disaster recovery.

Clone-retention policies. A clone is a copy of a completed backup job that's created for offsite storage. NetWorker 7.3 gave storage administrators the ability to set different retention polices for clones made to disk than for clones made to tape.


IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) 5.3.1
TSM Express. Targeted at the small- to medium-sized market, this is a disk-to-disk backup product (with the ability to make copies to tape) that lacks the archive or storage management capabilities normally found in TSM. Initially for Windows; Linux support to follow.

Archive management. Holds data called for by a judge until the data is released by the court. There's also an event-based trigger that, for example, can be set to wait 30 years from the time of an accident until employee data can be deleted.


Symantec Corp. NetBackup 6.0
Cold-metal restores. Allows restores to a different set of hardware than where the image was originally made. For instance, if a network interface card (NIC) on the server being used for the restore is different from the original host, the software will detect the different NIC and install the appropriate drivers for it.

SharePoint integration. Only NetBackup integrates with Microsoft's SharePoint.

Catalog backups. Online full or incremental NetBackup catalog backups are now possible.

Securing the data
When disk becomes the primary backup target, tape can assume its more appropriate role as the medium for portability and long-term data protection. Storage managers are also increasingly interested in encrypting data stored on tape. Liberty University's Mathes, for example, hopes to start encrypting data on tape in the next six to nine months.

For users who now wish to encrypt data, the three big backup software vendors offer varying levels of client-side encryption. While NetWorker and TSM each include encryption with the core product, NetWorker supports only the 256-bit AES option, while TSM is limited to 56-bit DES and 128-bit AES. Symantec users will need to purchase NetBackup's Encryption Option, which includes four encryption levels: 40- and 56-bit DES for customers with legacy encryption needs, and 128- and 256-bit AES that satisfy the more current, stringent U.S. and corporate encryption standards.

NetWorker 7.3 lets each client set a pass-phrase that's used as the key to lock/unlock encrypted data. However, the pass-phrase is needed to recover the data, and only servers in the NetWorker zone in which the pass-phrase was created can recover the data. Pass-phrases in TSM 5.3 are retained by the client and only that client can recover the data. Tricia Jiang, Tivoli's technical attache, warns that client encryption processing will impact that server's performance during backups.

But none of these vendors offers a way to centrally manage encrypted data because there's still considerable debate as to where encryption should occur--at the host, network or tape drive level--and who should handle the key management. Managing pass-phrases at either the client/server level or within the zones to which specific servers belong is problematic, as the individual or group who created the encrypted backup needs to maintain and protect the pass-phrase list to ensure they can recover the data at some future point in time. Most users appear willing to wait for industry standards to emerge before widely deploying encryption. "Encryption is definitely not something you just turn on," says Liberty University's Mathes.

This was first published in April 2006

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