By Kevin Komiega
—Disk, tape, data movement: It doesn't matter. Symantec wants to unify the management of all things backup. And the company is betting that the disk-based backup support, application optimization upgrades, and new pricing model for the latest release of its flagship software, Veritas NetBackup 6.5, will attract users looking for a single product for enterprise data protection.
NetBackup 6.5 is capable of managing tape, virtual tape libraries (VTLs), disk backup, data de-duplication, continuous data protection (CDP), snapshots, and replication processes across all major vendors, according to Matt Fairbanks, Symantec's senior director of product marketing.
Fairbanks says the latest version of NetBackup is referred to internally as the "disk release" due to the laundry list of new features and support for disk-based backup environments. "This is an integrated way to manage all devices and data movers," he says.
NetBackup 6.5, which will be available this summer, includes features such as native disk-based backup, data de-duplication, integration with intelligent backup appliances and VTLs, heterogeneous snapshot management, granular recovery for applications and virtual machines, and new licensing and pricing programs.
According to Fairbanks, NetBackup 6.5 provides a single approach to agents, policy management, recovery processes, security, backup reporting, and the data catalog.
Four new capabilities in version 6.5 are designed to take advantage of emerging and established disk-based data-protection technologies, including native data de-duplication that can be leveraged across the entire NetBackup environment; native disk backup capabilities, which enable pooling, sharing, and backup over a SAN to shared disk; integration with disk-based backup appliances and VTLs; and heterogeneous snapshots and CDP management.
With the software's PureDisk Deduplication Option, NetBackup 6.5 integrates Symantec's PureDisk de-dupe technology into the core of NetBackup to ensure redundant backup information is only stored once across the backup environment. In addition, the new Flexible Disk Option enables backup administrators to perform high- speed SAN backup to a shared disk pool.
The Virtual Tape Option enhances the performance and manageability of virtual tape devices by copying data directly from the VTL to tape, using a process that is controlled by NetBackup in a catalog-consistent manner.
In response to the growing popularity of virtual machines, Symantec added support for consolidated backup, granular file-level and image-level recovery, and de-duplication for VMware environments. NetBackup leverages VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) to guarantee consistency and remove the backup from the primary VMware server. VMware backups can be performed to tape or disk and can leverage the PureDisk Deduplication Option for de-dupe and replication of VMware backups.
NetBackup 6.5 also offers database and document-level recovery from the same backup for Microsoft SharePoint, eliminating the need for multiple backups of the same system. For Exchange environments, NetBackup provides an instant recovery feature that enables administrators to recover from a disk-based snapshot.
Symantec's focus on disk-based backup in NetBackup 6.5 is well-timed. In International Data Corporation's (IDC) recent Disk-Based Data Protection Study, the research firm asked IT professionals how much of their current disk storage exists to hold copies for data protection, backup, and recovery. On average, firms said that 35% of their disk capacity was for data protection, backup, and recovery.
According to Laura DuBois, IDC's research director for storage software, that number is likely to rise. "In three years, we expect this to grow to an average of 40%. NetBackup 6.5's focus on disk is consistent with customer demand and provides flexibility in selecting the manner of disk-based protection that is most suitable for users' environments," she says.
Dubois says the integration of existing NetBackup configurations with the new NetBackup PureDisk configuration is a key piece of the software. "This enables de-duplication, use of any type of disk storage, and replication to a remote disaster-recovery site without tape," she says.
Another area of change for the latest version of NetBackup is its pricing. Symantec's research shows a growing customer interest in aligning their purchasing model for data-protection software with their approach to storage hardware procurement. In response, Symantec is offering a capacity-based pricing option for NetBackup 6.5.
Customers now have the choice of licensing NetBackup based on the total amount of data being protected, or they can continue to use the traditional per-server pricing model. In addition, customers that stick with traditional server-based pricing will be offered a simplified pricing structure under which dozens of clients, agents, and modules are now grouped into three options.
Whether customers take to the new pricing model remains to be seen. "The challenge with pricing is that no matter how you offer it, some users want it one way, and others [want it] another way. We'll have to wait and see what users think about this, but I've heard some positive responses," says DuBois.
The launch of NetBackup 6.5 is the first step on the path to a new strategy for Symantec. The company simultaneously announced Storage United, an initiative designed to minimize the cost and complexity of managing storage. Storage United provides a software-oriented approach to help heterogeneous data-center environments deliver storage as a service by uniting disparate resources.
The main aim of the initiative is to provide a layer of data protection, storage management, and archiving software that supports all major server and storage systems.
Symantec's Fairbanks claims that, because Symantec has no hardware agenda, customers have more choices, flexibility, and control over their storage and server architectures and hardware purchases.
"The storage management problem is connected to the platform management problem, which is connected to administration and business problems. Right now, all of these different platforms have different management utilities," says Fairbanks. "There's a gap between what the business needs and what IT is providing. It's time to align everything to deliver storage as a service."