Symantec combines backup with open-source virtualization

Combined with Citrix's XenServer, Symantec's Veritas NetBackup software offers a single server/storage interface

Symantec's storage arm, Veritas, announced Tuesday that it has combined its online storage management software with Citrix Systems Xen Hypervisor to develop an x86 server virtualization platform. The product is expected to be available this fall, according to Aaron Aubrecht, senior director of product management and engineering for Veritas' Storage Foundation group.

Symantec also announced several upgrades to its enterprise-class backup software, NetBackup, including a block-level continuous data protection feature.

Symantec's storage/virtualized server product, Veritas Virtual Infrastructure, includes storage management capabilities from Veritas Storage Foundation with Citrix XenServer virtualization technology.

According to Aubrecht, Veritas Virtual Infrastructure preserves all of the key storage management features used today by enterprise users for their physical environments, but are not available in current file-system based virtualization approaches, including direct control of block storage from guest virtual servers, block-based mirroring across heterogeneous arrays, and storage area network multi-pathing.

Combined with Citrix XenServer, Veritas Virtual Infrastructure could reduce storage costs by using common, shared boot images across multiple virtual servers and increased storage utilization rates by allowing administrators to allocate from a single storage pool, or on an as-needed basis, Aubrecht said.

"One console can manage all virtual machines and the storage associated with the virtual machines," he said. "The integration happened at the critical layer within XenServer. We're controlling all the application I/O and the storage in the machine."

Because Citrix has Windows optimized drivers, Veritas Virtual Infrastructure can also take advantage of Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service to take snapshots of applications running on a virtual machine for backup and recovery.

Symantec also announced Veritas NetBackup RealTime, which ads continuous data protection to its enterprise backup product, eliminating the need for backup windows, according to Martin Ward, director of product marketing for Symantec's Data Protection Group.

Ward said the new enhancements to NetBackup will offer an alternative to array-based snapshots and allow recovery from any point in time.

NetBackup Storage Lifecycle Policies can also automate the movement of incremental backups to longer term storage media, reducing administrative overhead, Ward said.

Eddy Navarro, a storage computer system manager for J. Craig Venter Institute, a non-profit genome research firm, said he's rolling out the new NetBackup software this week in order to perform backup from disk using snapshots.

The J. Craig Venter Institute has about 150TB of storage capacity on network-attached storage arrays from NetApp Inc. Navarro said his shop has a fairly large contingent of virtual machines but in the previous version of NetBackup he was limited on the number of snapshots he could take for backup purposes.

"It was a serial process. One at a time," he said. "We've got 100s of virtual machines [on four servers] and that delayed backups. While VMware allows multiple snapshots, NetBackup put artificial limits in there."

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Now that the number of snapshots he can take from virtual machines is limitless, Navarro said his backups have "gone from days to hours now."

"It's so much easier. Upgrades to Symantec's Veritas Virtual Control Center have also made it much easier to take snapshots and compress backups from disk to tape," he said.

Navarro also purchased two data de-duplication appliances from Data Domain in order to reduce his overall backup storage requirements.

"NetBackup will always be the traffic cop for backups and we'll just have Data Domain's appliances as the target," he said.

Symantec also announced its PureDisk replication software, which formerly was only available for use in remote offices, is now integrated with NetBackup and available for use in data centers in order to consolidate enterprise-wide backups.

"We can protect petabytes of data now," Ward said. "And, if we're pulling in hundreds of remote offices, we can de-duplicate that data at the client level."

In addition, Symantec said NetBackup now has expanded support for Microsoft applications for granular recovery of Microsoft Sharepoint 2007, Exchange 2007 and Windows Server 2008 for recovery at the file level or single e-mail/mailbox item level.

Having all backups created from a single image, will eliminate the need for running dual backups in SharePoint, Exchange and VMware environments, Ward said.

Symantec offers a five-system NetBackup starter pack at a suggested price of US$3,000. NetBackup 6.5.2 and NetBackup PureDisk 6.5 are available now; NetBackup 6.5.3 will be available in US Summer 2008; NetBackup RealTime Protection 6.5 is scheduled to be available US Autumn 2008.