Zmanda releases open source backup/recovery

By Ann Silverthorn

—At the MySQL Users Conference last week, start-up Zmanda introduced an enterprise edition of the open-source Amanda backup-and-recovery software, challenging Symantec's NetBackup and EMC/Legato's NetWorker. Amanda Enterprise Edition software, part of the Zmanda Network, offers open source code as well a price tag significantly lower than NetBackup and NetWorker.

Zmanda has tested, certified, and pre-compiled Amanda Enterprise Edition for operating systems in business critical environments. The product was designed with a focus on security and usability.

"There's a transition in various layers of the IT infrastructure. Some companies are migrating from Solaris to Linux and from Oracle to MySQL, and the storage software in the middle is crying for that migration," says Chander Kant, Zmanda's CEO. "If you're paying $100,000 to Oracle for your database and $10,000 to Veritas, the $10,000 doesn't look so big. But if you're paying $2,000 for MySQL for the same type of service, that $10,000 looks big. Zmanda provides commoditized storage software."

Zmanda's business model is similar to MySQL and RedHat, offering annual subscriptions for its version of Amanda. A one-year subscription costs $50 for each protected workstation or desktop and $100 for each server. There is also a premium level of the software, which can cost up to $250 per protected system.

The benefits of open source are most evident in the recovery of data. With proprietary backup-and-recovery software, users can't recover backed-up files without the software that was used to back them up. Amanda uses platform-standard tools, which are used for formatting on the media itself, so even if Amanda isn't running the files can be recovered using those standard tools. Amanda runs on Windows, Unix, Linux, and Mac OS-X. Support for Solaris is on the road map.

Amanda software can back up to any device that Linux can write to—disk, tape, or optical. It can write to disk and tape simultaneously, so data can be available on disk for quick restores, while the tape backup can be stored off-site for disaster recovery.

Don't look for advanced features, such as continuous data protection (CDP), on Amanda. It's best used when there are reduced operations, since it can put pressure on network bandwidth, according to Kant. Yet a consistent backup window is one of its most important features, he says.

"Amanda keeps a consistent backup window without an administrator having to figure out the rate of change of the data," says Kant. "The software has intelligence built in so that if the administrator wants one full backup over a period of one week and the rest incremental, it will determine on a daily basis what needs to be backed up that day and what can be pushed off to the next day. Amanda offers up to nine levels of incrementals."

Amanda can handle live applications, such as MySQL, which provides MySQL Dump that can put data into a file system for Amanda to pick up. In addition, Zmanda is integrating Amanda with Oracle's Recovery Manager (RMAN) utility.

Future enhancements to Amanda Enterprise Edition include a GUI interface and application integration.

"One of the integration efforts will be for applications on the LAMP [Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl/Python] stack, such as SugarCRM," says Kant. "We will integrate from the database to the file-system level, so administrators can tell Amanda which applications they want to back up and Amanda will back up not just the core data, but the metadata as well."

Amanda was developed at the University of Maryland in 1991 and has been in tested by the open-source community for more than 10 years. There are estimated to be more than 20,000 deployments of Amanda worldwide.

This article was originally published on May 03, 2006