Learning new backup software

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It has been no secret that we've been trying to migrate away from BackupExec (10d) to HP's Data Protector. Originally this was due to cost reasons, but we were either sold a bill of goods, or there was a fundamental misunderstanding somewhere along the way. Your choice as to which it really was. In short, the costs have been about the same or even a bit more than staying with BE. However, sunk costs are sunk, so once the switch was made DP became the cheaper course of the future.

Which brings us to the current state. We've finally pried loose funds to license the Scalar 100 we have for our tape backup solution, and we're in the process of getting that working with DP. As with all backup software, it behaves a bit differently than others.

And now, a digression.

It is my opinion that all backup software everywhere is fundamentally cantankerous, finicky, and locked in obscure traditions. The traditions I'm speaking of are sourced in the ancestral primary supported platforms, and the UI and rotation metaphors created 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago. The cantankerous and finicky parts come from a combination of supporting the cantankerous and finicky tape hardware and the process of getting data off of servers for backup.

I know there are people who love their backup solutions with an unholy passion. I do not understand this. Perhaps I just haven't worked with the right environment.

Back to my point.

Data Protector continues the tradition of cantankerous, finicky software locked into an obscure tradition. I am not surprised by this, but it is still disheartening. How it interacts with our tape robot is sub-optimal in many ways, which will ultimately require hand editing a text file to configure timeout paramters in an optimal way. This reflects DP's origin as a UNIX based backup ported to Windows. It only got a usable GUI very recently, and until DP 6.10 came out required rsh and rcp for their Unix deployment server. I kid you not. DP6.11 at least supports ssh and scp.

It's also not working well with our NetWare backups. I've blogged about this one before, but didn't end up posting the solution to the last round of problems. It turned out to be an out of date driver on the part of the DP backup-to-disk server, as it wasn't ACKing packets fast enough. Updated the driver, the backup started flying. Now that we've got the Scalar in the mix, and backing up to a new server, some new problems have emerged. So far they look to be in the NetWare TSA stack rather than on the DP side (at least, that's what the symptoms look like. I still need to look at packets to be sure), which is unfortunate since 1: Novell isn't going to fix the TSAs on NetWare, and 2: We're getting rid of NetWare in the near future. But not near enough that we can just forget the backups until we migrate. Suck-up-and-deal appears to be our solution. (DP does have OES2 agents, by the way)

Our Windows backups all are looking decent, though. That's something anyway. At least, when the Scalar isn't throwing monkey wrenches into DP's little world.

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With backup software (and antivirus) it's not what's best, it's what sucks the least. :)

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