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Veritas raises the bar with NetBackup 4.5

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I recently implemented the latest version of NetBackup for a large client, and my experience mirrored that of other NetBackup users I've talked to: If you're currently using a pre-4.5 version of NetBackup, or are using another product that you're unhappy with, NetBackup 4.5 is a vast improvement.

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What's Hot
Calendar scheduling
Vastly improved Windows and Unix GUIs
NetBackup Vault is fully integrated into NetBackup
Lets you create up to 10 copies of each backup image
A policy or schedule will use the first available storage unit in a group
Motif interface is history
Easier-to-use Oracle backup and recovery wizards

The latest version lets users cancel jobs instead of killing them, and includes calendar-based scheduling and a fully integrated NetBackup Vault, as well as many others features. In fact, NetBackup 4.5 contains more than 100 new features and enhancements since NetBackup 3.4. I'll concentrate on features that have created the most discussion among current NetBackup users.

One big difference between NetBackup 4.5 and its predecessors is the use of new terminology. With 4.5, Veritas has created common terminology for NetBackup and Backup Exec. The biggest terminology change is the use of the term "policy" instead of "class." This article uses the proper 4.5 terminology.

Calendar-based scheduling
Perhaps the most commonly requested feature for NetBackup was calendar-based scheduling, and it's finally here. Prior to 4.5, you could only schedule backups based on frequency (e.g., every n days). You can now schedule backups based on a specific date, day of the month or week. You can even combine them and schedule a backup on a day of the week and month (e.g., the first and third Wednesdays of every month). And frequency-based schedules are available as well. I found the calendar-based scheduling interface easy to use.

You can now create up to 10 copies of each backup image. Prior to 4.5, you were limited to two copies per image. Up to four of these copies can even be created simultaneously using the new inline tape copy feature, which allows you to create your original and copy at the same time. The inline tape copy feature, however, is only available if you purchase NetBackup Vault.

While I understand this feature has been often requested, I prefer to make copies after backups are done, which verifies that the original is readable. It takes a bit longer, but requires the same number of drives. You need two drives to make two copies of the tape simultaneously, and you'll need two drives to copy that same tape after the backup is done. It would be useful if you could use inline tape copy to create your on-site and off-site copies. That way, NetBackup Vault could automate the verification of both tapes.

NetBackup Vault has now been completely integrated into NetBackup. The configuration of all vaults, vault profiles and the scheduling of vault runs are all done within the NetBackup GUI. It no longer requires professional services to implement NetBackup vault, and you no longer need to manually edit dup_param files, or run cron jobs to kick off a vault run. You simply create one or more vault profiles using the NetBackup GUI, then create a policy (class) that runs those vault profiles using schedules that behave just like the schedules you're already familiar with. Veritas has also reduced the initial price of NetBackup Vault. (As of this writing, you need to be running NetBackup DataCenter to purchase Vault.) NetBackup administrators used to bpvault will find NetBackup Vault easy to use. Users who haven't previously purchased NetBackup Vault need to read its manual prior to using it, which is still a far cry from bringing in a consultant.

Prior to 4.5, you needed to choose a storage unit by name, or select "any available storage unit." It wasn't possible to use multiple storage units and state a preference for one over the other. To solve this problem, NetBackup 4.5 introduces the concept of storage unit groups, a pseudo-storage unit comprised of other storage units in a particular order. You can then assign that storage unit group to a policy or schedule. That policy or schedule will use the first available storage unit in that group. If the first unit in that group is unavailable, it will try again until it finds an available unit.

This was first published in October 2002

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