Manage Data and Backups
by Nelson Ruest and Danielle Ruest
Posted September 24, 2003
When you're ready to take your backup and system resiliency plan beyond the tools offered in Windows Server 2003, consider Galaxy from CommVault Systems Inc. Galaxy is an enterprise data-protection technology that's fully integrated with Windows Server 2003. It supports backing up and restoring system state data; is integrated with the Volume Shadow Copy (VSC) service; provides a feature similar to Automated System Recovery (ASR), allowing you to restore downed servers from scratch using a recent backup; and fully understands Active Directory (AD), letting you restore almost any object or attribute to the directory directly without passing through the Directory Services Restore Mode required by NTBackup. Galaxy also includes intelligent agents for SQL Server and the Exchange or SharePoint Portal Server information stores, supporting single message or single document recovery for both systems. Microsoft itself recommends Galaxy for both the Internet and the Enterprise Data Center System Architectures.
Galaxy can perform AD restores without taking the domain controller offline. If an operator makes a mistake and modifies the wrong data, you simply use the Galaxy Recovery Console to select the item to be restored (see Figure), restore it, and it appears in the directory within moments. Galaxy assigns the restored item a new Update Sequence Number (USNthe value AD uses to see if an object or attribute needs to be replicated to other domain controllers) automatically, which replicates the data and restores the AD to the desired state.
Though it runs from a Windows-based console, Galaxy offers additional agent modules for Oracle or Informix databases, SAP, Linux, Unix, Netware, Lotus Notes, and specialized SAN/NAS hardware drivers, letting you manage heterogeneous environments from a central point. Galaxy also supports data migration: Because its agents work with multiple versions of each technology, you can back up from one version and restore to another. For example, you can back up from Exchange version 5.5 and restore to Exchange 2003, providing a simple upgrade path. All you need to restore data is an Internet Protocol (IP) address. You even can capture a backup in one location and restore the data in another, providing full disaster recovery services.
This feature is even more significant for archiving purposes. Organizations have archiving policies that often include lengthy retention periods. The problem is even though you archive data and store it properly, upgrading your production infrastructure continually can make retrieving archived data difficult. Galaxy lets you restore the data to your existing infrastructure regardless of the original operating system.
Galaxy's Synthetic Full Backup featurea method used by the program to re-create a full backup from incremental backups taken during the weekis also significant. The product tracks where each file is located when it is stored, so it creates a full backup by simply re-creating an index of only those files that have changed during the week. This can mean the end of lengthy weekend full backups because Galaxy only has to backup the data once during the daily incremental backups; the full backup is produced by restructuring data already captured.
This full complement of features makes CommVault Galaxy a compelling choice for data and storage management, especially because it's usually priced lower than its major competitors. If you use Windows technologies in your network, don't make the mistake of overlooking this solution when choosing a data protection tool.
CommVault Systems Inc.
Pricing: From $1,000 to $2,000 per server, depending on options selected
Quick Facts: Provides a complete backup solution for Windows systems including Windows Server 2003, Active Directory, Exchange 2003, SQL Server, and SharePoint Portal Server. Includes the only object or attribute restore solution for Active Directory.
Pros: Easy to use; provides complete restore options; integrated to all Windows Server System products and to the VSC service; provides single-point restore and creates synthetic full backups from previously captured data; restores to any IP address and any version of the OS.
Cons: Difficult to install without help; Doesn't recognize pre-installed components such as SQL Server; uses a Java (not .NET) console to access most powerful features.
About the Author
Danielle Ruest and Nelson Ruest (MCSE, MCT) recently released their third book: Windows Server 2003 Pocket Administrator (Osborne McGraw-Hill, 2003), an everyday administration reference. Both work for Resolutions Enterprises, a small Canadian consulting firm that provides services in the information architecture and change management fields. Both can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org.
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