Oct 26 2009

ARCserve Backup File Server Suite 12.5

CA tuned the latest version of its backup software, making de-dupe a core component.

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ARCserve Backup File Server Suite 12.5

One of the biggest challenges facing any organization that works with high volumes of sensitive, personally identifiable or valuable data is managing that data's backup. Even on smaller networks, the amount of data that resides in spreadsheets, documents and other application files and that is essential to day-to-day operations can grow rapidly -- and be tricky to back up centrally.

 And as storage for even small servers approaches terabyte capacity, running backup on those servers takes longer and longer -- sometimes approaching the whole night and into the following workday.

CA has simplified the task of putting together backup solutions with a collection of ARCserve Backup suites that handle specific backup tasks: file backup, mail system backup, database backup and virtualized server backup. Each bundles together a set of CA's ARCserve software tools, plus XOsoft data replication software to move data offline from production servers for backup.

I took a look at CA's latest ARCserve Backup File Server Suite, Version 12.5, and found it well-suited to the task of creating a structured backup environment for data files without bogging down local servers during backup processing. Small to midsize organizations with a large volume of data stored in shared file space as application files would get significant benefit out of the File Server Suite -- and probably from at least one other configuration of the ARCserve and XOsoft products.


One of the key features of ARCserve Backup is its data deduplication technology. Instead of backing up copies of the same data over and over again, ARCserve instead stores only changes to data, comparing stored data. ARCserve compares data with previous backups at a data block level, rather than comparing on a file-by-file basis, and compresses the resulting backup. By doing a disk-to-disk-to-tape backup -- using disk to do deduplication before writing the backup -- ARCserve can help in meeting green computing mandates. This approach increases the capacity of existing storage media, reduces power requirements and can help keep storage budgets in check.

ARCserve also checks backup media with its Media Assure technology, which does random reviews of sessions based on settings the user can configure. These mini-audits make sure that the data on the storage media chosen for backup is readable and writable. ARCserve issues an alert if the media is unusable, preventing loss of data on a backup.

Another major advantage of ARCserve Backup File Server Suite is the inclusion of two licenses for XOsoft replication software. This allows data to be replicated off the server to another system -- either local or remote -- to offload the work of backing up data from a production storage server environment.

Why it works for IT

There are several significant plusses for IT managers in ARCserve beyond the core backup functionality. Among them is ease of use and depth of information that administrators can get out of the accompanying console tools.

An intuitive Windows interface lets an administrator tightly control what gets backed up and restored. And the Windows-based ARCserve Backup Dashboard management interface gives administrators a deep view of backup performance, locations of backups and other details (such as whether backups are encrypted, which systems are ready for disaster recovery, and hardware and performance statistics for each production server). There's a built-in reporting engine as well as analysis tools, which can help IT managers improve backup performance and meet service-level agreements and data retention regulation requirements.

The included XOsoft replication software allows for off-site backup over wide area networks and can intelligently throttle the amount of network traffic used to replicate across the WAN. Depending on how your organization pairs up servers, XOsoft can also do data replication between servers running different operating systems, so a remote Linux server, for example, can be used to back up a production Windows server. And the Windows version runs on versions of the OS back to Windows 2000, so older servers in branch offices can be protected.


The File Server Suite is an ideal solution for a specific set of problems. But the typical network environment will require other components -- all available from CA -- to build a solid backup and business continuity solution.

ARCserve Backup File Server Suite is suited to environments where there are five to 50 servers. For larger data centers with more than 50 servers, you'll need CA's ARCServe Managed Capacity suite, which includes all the components required to manage a large environment..

The Windows version I tested requires a Microsoft SQL Server installation to manage its backup database. Fortunately, it runs with SQL Server Express, which is free, so that's not a significant hurdle. But it does mean you'll need a database backup product to ensure that you back up your backups.