Archive for October, 2006

You can setup your MySQL database backup within minutes!

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Using freely available ZRM for MySQL , you can set up a solution to backup and restore your MySQL database, within minutes. This article has all the details.

When things go bad, you start spending…

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

After reading TK’s latest blog about “When things go bad, you start thinking…,” I’d like to add a few observations. I am the Office Manager in question and I wish I could say TK made up my flooding experience in the interest of blog-worthiness, but it’s entirely true. The parallels between my experience and not backing up data are eerie and many and include:

Post-disaster spending exceeds pre-disaster defensive spending by far

We think our problem was caused by a toilet that “runs� if the handle gets in a certain position—I’m sure you’ve seen this before. The condition was fairly rare, but it had happened on this toilet before. If we had taken the time and spent the money to buy the kit that fixes this (costs around $20), we could have averted the whole incident. Instead, we’re now at the mercy of the disaster recovery company, and while we do have insurance, there are deductibles and such that need to be paid. When a catastrophic event occurs with your data, it can be very costly to recover if you don’t have backup, and some companies never recover completely. Don’t put yourself at the mercy of the disaster recovery people when your servers crash—backup your software before you need it!

Post-disaster, money that was not there pre-disaster to fix a problem suddenly appears in the budget

We have seen this at Zmanda before. A company will call that currently does not have money in their budget to cover backing up their machines, but they would like to know what it will cost. Several months later, they call back after losing all their data and money is no object! In my family’s case, we were claiming our time budget didn’t allow for fixing the toilet. Now, we’ve spent many hours cleaning, and have countless hours of recovering ahead. If you’re in charge of company data systems and management is claiming there’s no money and/or time available for proper backup, make them see the light—they can spend a little now or a lot later! And, Zmanda community edition is available for free, but give me the security of the enterprise edition any day.

Expecting 12 and 14-year-olds to remember to observe whether or not the toilet is running is not realistic

The connection here to data backup may not be obvious, but I think there is one. My two sons had instructions to check the handle to make sure the toilet was not running after flushing it, but apparently one of them forgot (of course, “I didn’t do it!� resounded throughout the house). People are fallible and mistakes are made, and it only takes one mistake for all your data to be lost. Don’t trust to chance and memory!

Our family will recover from this incident and as we like to say, “It’s not that bad—no one was hurt and nothing precious was lost.â€? But I can assure you, I will never again let a running toilet go unfixed!

(Note my restraint at not pointing out similarities between toilet backup and data backup, CYA, and other obvious puns…)

Finally, Windows package for Amanda!!!

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Amanda is the most popular open source network and backup recovery software. Amanda administrators have plenty of choices for binary packages for Linux and Unix platforms. We provide RPMs for Redhat and Suse distributions from Zmanda downloads page.

For Windows platforms, admistrators had to build Amanda from source tar ball (using Cygwin). Building Amanda binaries for a platform is a time consuming task and a maintenance nightmare.

We have a created an Amanda client binary package for Windows platform using Microsoft installer. We have tested the package on Windows XP and Windows 2003 server. The package contains easy to use installation interface and includes all Amanda dependencies (including Cygwin). It works with server running Amanda 2.5.X. Amanda wiki has documentation on how to install, configure and use the Windows client.

As always, feel free to ask questions in Amanda forums under sub-forum “Windows client” or if you are successful in using the client, you can answer questions also.

No more excuses for not using Amanda on Windows!!!

When things go bad, you start thinking….

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

I was talking to my Office Manager about her upstairs getting flooded yesterday. Water soaked the entire upstairs, and started to seep through the ceiling. The “disaster recovery folks” are currently evaluating the damage and coming up with a plan to put things back in order. This is the second time, something like this has happened to someone I know. As I walked away, I started thinking about my house. What would happen to things around the if my upstairs or downstairs started flooding? Maybe I should raise my music system off the floor.

Funny how a disaster put things in perspective. Instead of planning to protect and limit damages after a disaster, people [in general] think about it in hindsight. This is especially true when its comes to protecting your data. Numerous recent incidents like the one at GE, or the famous Veterans affair one are classic examples, where the thought about “protecting the data” came “after’” the catastrophic event. While these are instance of loss of privacy more than loss of data, some of the underlying reason are very similar. This post by Jerri Ledford, highlights the need for a backup and recovery solution very well. Outside of common sense, there are enough regulatory and compliance requirements, which should drive any enterprise to backup data.

While it is true, that some of the “bigger” vendors have made backup and recovery a rocket science, things are changing. Complexity of installation and configuration are not excuses anymore. In fact you can install, configure and verify a backup and recovery solution within minutes. So, do not procrastinate. Take a look at your infrastructure and understand your backup needs. Make sure you dont pay for the features that you do not use and do not get locked into vendors who holds you and your data hostage. Check out the Open Source Leader in Backup and Recovery . Do not wait for things to go bad, to start thinking. Act now.

ZRM for MySQL 1.1 release - Get involved!!!

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Zmanda Recovery Manager (ZRM) for MySQL is a robust and intelligent solution for live backup and recovery of local and remote MySQL databases. In case you are not familiar with it, take a look at ZRM for MySQL project page.

Key features in 1.1 release
- Backup images can be compressed and encrypted using platform tools
- Custom plugin interfaces for
- Backup encryption
- Pre backup actions
- Post backup actions
- Flexible scheduling
- Binary log parser
- Secure file transfer
- Automatic HTML and Text backup report generation
- Backup reports are available as RSS feed

This is an open source community project. Feel free to check out the project wiki, go to zmanda downloads site to try it, submit feature suggestions/bugs at Zmanda bugzilla or ask questions at our forums . Or even better, contribute to the project or to the wiki or talk about it in your blog!!

Open Source & Open Standards: Not just Hot Buzzwords

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Antenna MastI recently had the phone antenna from my car stolen. This was the second incidence of the exact same part getting stolen from my car!! This piddly little part with very simple looking construction, cost me close to $180 to replace the first time around. Given that I don’t even use a built-in phone in my car, I had to fork this money pretty much for cosmetic reasons (there was a gaping hole at a prominent location on the roof of the car) and to plug-in the hole to prevent rain water from seeping in.

I was hoping to find a more cost-effective solution this time around, but couldn’t. Auto shops basically told me that the part was very specific to the manufacturer of the car. There were no specifications available, and the only solution was to buy the original proprietary part. To make things worse, I couldn’t buy the specific part that I had lost, I had to buy an assembly which had few other things included in it (which resulted in the high $$$). I can see why there is a secondary market for these parts, which makes them an attractive theft target.

IT managers who use a lot of proprietary IT software in their environment, can probably already see the analogies. In many scenarios, managers are forced to pay top dollars for software components that they won’t even deploy in their environment. Just like auto manufacturers, future profitability of proprietary software vendors depends on locking the customers in their proprietary formats and components. E.g. if you use Veritas backup products to write to a tape, the only way to recover from that tape would be to use the corresponding (in most cases, the exact version) product. If you were restoring from the tape seven years from now - you better have the specific version of the product lying around with a valid license or be ready to pay premium price to recover your own data.

While products based on Open Source and Open Standards, almost always come with lower initial cost of acquisition, the greater benefit is achieved over the life cycle of the deployment. Inherent freedom provided by such products enables IT managers to significantly lower the cost of on-going maintenance.

After driving around my car with duct tape pasted on the roof for a few weeks and not finding any cost-effective solution, I forked the $180 again to get a replacement antenna (and all the other parts that I didn’t need). I got the car mechanic to loctite the antenna this time around though.