Archive for the ‘Network Backup and Recovery’ Category

StorageTek SL500 and Amanda Enterprise: Modular Approach to Backup

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

One of the challenges that IT managers face is correctly sizing their backup infrastructure.  This is especially the case when deciding on a tape library. Fork-lift upgrades of tape libraries can be particularly expensive and cumbersome.

Amanda Enterprise supports disk, tape changers and cloud as the backup media and allows tapes and cloud as the tertiary media. The backup images can be vaulted to tertiary media for  archival or off site storage for disaster recovery. One of the popular tape libraries used with Amanda Enterprise is the Sun StorageTek SL500. SL500 is a rack mounted, scalable tape library system.  The Sun StorageTek SL500 scales from 30 cartridge slots to 575 slots with a capacity of more than 200 terabytes of uncompressed data. The Sun StorageTek SL500 library accommodates up to 18 tape drives with an uncompressed data throughput of more than 5 terabytes per hour.  A SL500 library connected to Amanda server provides a reliable backup tape library to which Amanda can push multiple backup streams reducing the backup window.

We recently worked with Sun’s integration lab to formally certify SL500 with Amanda Enterprise. We did intensive testing both for stability and scalability. Our work also resulted in an installation and configuration document for Amanda configuration (free registration required to download the paper) with FC connected SL500 tape library.  Amanda Enterprise with Zmanda Management Console makes configuration of SL500 for backup and recovery easy. Amanda Enterprise can use the available throughput to SL500 and perform parallel backups to reduce the backup window.

First Advantage SafeRent is an Amanda Enterprise user who use Storage Tek SL500 tape library backups. Their SL500 tape library has six tape drives with 254 slots connected to Amanda server using a FC switch. First Advantage backs up Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and other filesystem data to the SL500 library.

We have designed and priced Amanda Enterprise to scale to customers needs. Combination of Amanda Enterprise with the SL500 tape library provides a seamlessly scalable backup solution – from perspectives of both the IT and Finance departments.

Our price increased today. Now we are one-tenth the cost of Symantec.

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Today we increased price for the Amanda Enterprise Backup Server. The new price for our Standard subscription level is $500 per year. Our online store is a place to quickly checkout prices for all our products on a single page. This price increase was done in conjunction with release of Amanda Enterprise 3.0, which represents several man years of R&D on the backup server, including advanced media management such as D2D2T. Our subscription provides access to software and enterprise-class support.

Amanda Enterprise is used by businesses of all shapes and sizes. But a typical scenario is the following:

  • Backup Server on Linux
  • One tape library with one or two tape drives. Or VTL on a NAS device.
  • A mix of Linux & Windows servers and desktops to be protected
  • A mix of applications (e.g. Exchange) and databases (e.g. MySQL or Postgres) to be protected
  • Encryption on the server to protect data at rest

In above scenario, customers often consider NetBackup from Symantec as a potential product. Lets compare the new Amanda Enterprise pricing with NetBackup pricing.

First of all, finding prices for NetBackup for a particular configuration is a harrowing experience. There is no place on Symantec website which provides prices for all NetBackup options and features in one consolidated location. Rumor has it that the internal licensing guide for NetBackup is more than 40 pages long!

The least expensive way to buy NetBackup is one of the “Starter Packs”. Their 5 client starter pack with 1 NetBackup server and 1 tape drive license costs $3995. This price does not include any support. Maintenance is priced separately: $720 per year (similar support level to our Standard subscription). This restricts NetBackup server to “Tier 1 and Tier 2” systems. Tiering is one of the several confusing aspects of Symantec pricing. If your backup server has four or more CPUs, you are out of luck on the Starter Packs. A la carte pricing for NetBackup server and clients is significantly more expensive. A standard NetBackup server for a Tier 3 Linux server lists at $3200 + maintenance contract. Amanda Enterprise Servers or Clients have no tiered pricing. You can choose as hefty a server as your requirements dictate and pay us the same standard price.

Encryption on the backup server is a desired option for IT managers. This protects critical data at rest (or in transit – e.g. when a backup tape is being transferred to a remote location) from unauthorized access. By encrypting on the backup server, you relieve the CPUs on production clients from the burden of encryption. With Netbackup you need to buy the Media Server Encryption Option – list price for which is $10K+ (and this does not include the maintenance cost). Encryption is a built-in feature of the Amanda Enterprise Server.

Per Library Charge: NetBackup’s pricing options for Tape Drives and Tape Libraries is at best confusing. The starter pack above gives access to one tape drive. If you want to use another tape drive in a tape library, you need to buy a Tape Library Option for $3K list price. (And again, that does not include maintenance.). You can drive as many Tape Drives and Libraries you want from a single Amanda Enterprise server.

Want to use a VTL? You need to buy NetBackup Standard Disk or Enterprise Disk option. Standard Disk option is $995 for up to 1TB of data protected. Symantec doesn’t even pass the savings of data compression to you. (On top of that, you guessed it right, that does not include maintenance.). Amanda Enterprise has a built-in capability of transforming disk into virtual tapes. You can also use a VTL of your choice, with no additional cost.

This recent blog gives more color on NetBackup Licensing (Note: We don’t have any affiliation with this blog or its author).

In summary, a $500 Standard subscription for the Amanda Enterprise gives you a backup server which runs on any Tier server, including a Linux or a Solaris server, which can backup to as many tape drives and libraries you want – including VTLs, with server side encryption support, unlimited disk based backup, and vaulting (D2D2T) support. You will not get anything close to that for $5K from Symantec.

How are we able to do this? Our open source development, marketing and distribution model allows us to innovate aggressively with a huge community of developers and users providing extensive feedback on a regular basis. Proprietary software companies spend 60% to 80% of their budget on sales and marketing (Source: Time for a New Software Model), and these costs are passed on to the customers. We have a different equation. Our freely downloadable community editions represent the bulk of our marketing budget. This marketing budget is spent in the form of R&D to innovate and add features and usability to both our community and enterprise editions. So, instead of paying for sales and marketing overhead of proprietary backup software companies, you only pay for the R&D which provides direct benefit to you.

Symantec’s excessive use of tiering, options, different licensing models, components, and packs can be mind numbing for a hapless IT manager just looking to protect their systems and applications. This Doonesbury strip captures Symantec’s nickeling-and-diming pricing strategy for their backup software:

Cloud Backup

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Today we made two major announcements: Amanda Enterprise 3.0 and GA of Zmanda Cloud Backup. We announced the release of several cloud backup features and optimizations as part of these product offerings.

When we say “Cloud Backup”, we mean two things:

1. Backup to Cloud: Backup of your on-premises data to a Storage Cloud (e.g. Amazon S3)
2. Backup of Cloud: Backup of your applications running on a Compute Cloud (e.g. Amazon EC2)

We offer solutions for both of above. In this blog, I will focus on Backup to Cloud.

Storage Clouds offer an excellent alternative to tapes or optical media for off-site backup storage. Your data is stored off-site and yet is on-line. You can initiate a recovery anytime and from anywhere, as long as you have internet access and your access credentials. You pay only for how much storage and bandwidth you use, and don’t have to invest in local tape infrastructure. Also, even as a small business you get have a profile of a much larger vendor (Tier 1 Storage Cloud vendors spend millions of dollars to ensure robustness of their infrastructure).

We have two different products to securely transfer your backup data to a storage cloud: Integration of Amanda Enterprise with Amazon S3 and Zmanda Cloud Backup.

These two products meet different needs:

Amanda Enterprise network diagram

If you would like to consolidate backup of a heterogeneous set of systems, including those running Solaris, Linux, Windows and OS-X, and then ship this consolidated backup to the storage cloud, our Amanda Enterprise (AE) 3.0 release is optimized for this. We added some key cloud optimizations in AE 3.0:

  • Cloud Vaulting: We allow you to backup to your local media and then vault to the storage cloud on its own independent schedule.
  • Transfer Block Size control: We allow you to control the size of your block transferred to Amazon S3. So far we had it pegged to 10MB. But now depending on your uplink speed and quality, you can pick a transfer block size of anywhere between 1KB and 100MB. So, if you have a fat and reliable pipe and you are not too many hops away from your storage cloud, you can use a much bigger block to get better performance. On the other hand, if you are stuck behind an unreliable pipe you can use a small block size to avoid retries.
  • Location control: We now enable an Amanda administrator to chose between storage cloud in US or Europe as destination for their storage. So, if you are in Europe and would like to backup to a US data center for disaster recovery, you can instruct AE to do so. Or if your country doesn’t allow certain kind of data to leave EU boundaries for compliance purposes, you can restrict the backup location to Europe.
  • Built-in Integrity Check: We do an integrity check on each block transferred to S3. So, any data corruption on transit will be caught right away.
  • Optional Encryption: Until now encryption during data transfer was hard-coded, i.e. you didn’t have a choice but to have your data encrypted during transfer to the storage cloud. We had done so to address the data privacy concern while transferring backup data over the Internet. Well, we got feedback that in many conditions the data being transferred was public data (e.g. postings on a forum). It was important data for business owner for protection, but there was no privacy concern about this data. In this case, the administrator wanted the fastest possible transfer and not incur the overhead of encryption. So, we decided to make encryption while transfer optional. Note that this is independent of encryption of data at rest – which is a configurable parameter on its own.

Zmanda Cloud Backup DiagramZmanda Cloud Backup (ZCB) is our offering designed for small businesses with a handful of Windows servers. It creates a direct link between a single Windows system and Storage Cloud. There is no backup server required. ZCB provides a very simple to use interface and configured automated backup of Windows file systems and applications. It is integrated with Exchange, SQL Server and Oracle using Volume Shadow Copy Service – so, it can backup these applications while they are running. You only pay for actual data transfered and stored (in addition to a small one-time software fees). So, if your data gets compressed 70%, you only pay for 30% of data size being backed up. This is in contrast to other online backup services such as Mozy Pro which charge on the basis of amount of data being backed up.

Also, in contrast to most other backup services, ZCB allows you to set up a retention policy of your choice. So, you can have a retention policy of a month, a year, or seven years (or any other timeframe). You can base this retention policy based on business needs, including any compliance needs.

In addition to file systems and applications, ZCB also backs up and recovers Windows System State (including Active Directory). This enables you to do a bare metal recovery, in case you lose your entire system.

Some leading journalists and bloggers today covered our Cloud Backup news:

BTW, we continue to adhere to our open standards and open formats philosophy. ZCB stores data on the cloud in ZIP64 format. So, any utility which understands this format can extract your files from the archive.

Comprehensive Backup and Recovery for ZFS filesystems

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

opensolaris logo

Amanda 2.6.1 release provides Application API and flexibility to configure multiple backup methods for a filesystem or an application. One of the examples of the application API flexibility is backup of ZFS filesystems on OpenSolaris. Amanda performs backups using platform tools to archive a filesystem. In case of ZFS multiple such tools are available to extract data for backup purposes.
Amanda 2.6.1 supports four different methods to backup ZFS filesystem/directories. Each method has pros and cons. They are summarized in the table below:ZFS backup methods
In addition to providing four different backup methods, ZFS snapshot pre-backup plugin is available (regardless of which method the administrator chooses for backup) to backup open files. It provides crash consistent backup of the filesystem/directory. Amanda allows OpenSolaris administrator to configure appropriate backup method for each DLE (disk list entry), which is a unit of Amanda backup configuration.

This work illustrates how availability of open APIs such as Amanda’s Application API fosters development and testing contributions from the Amanda community.

Amanda 2.6.1 released

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Amanda 2.6.1, a major release of Amanda was released today after two beta releases. The beta releases were widely tested by lots of users in various platforms. Binaries for Linux distributions, OpenSolaris and Windows (with Open file backup support) are available in Zmanda downloads page.

Release focus was creation of new APIs and strengthening current APIs. APIs allow developers to extend Amanda in various dimensions, creating a data protection platform. API to create new application backups (Application API), support for post and pre backup processing (Script API), support for media changers (Changer API) and support for data transfer methods (Xfer API) are available.  Amanda wiki provides the complete list of changes in this release.

Thanks to all users and developers who contributed to this release.

Thailand Metropolitan Waterworks Authority Protects Emails Using Zmanda

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Metropolitan Waterworks Authority Logo Metropolitan Water Authority (MWA) is a public water utility providing water supply to residences and businesses in key parts of Thailand including Bangkok. With more than four thousand employees and approximately two million customers, MWA generates a lot of email on a daily basis.

For this challenge, MWA turned to CommuniGate Pro for their email server, and to Amanda Enterprise for protecting the email data. MWA chose Solaris 10 to run the Amanda Server.

Congratulations to Veerachart Charassirikulchai (I just call him Vee!) and his team at SoftDebut for working with MWA and installing Zmanda’s solution in their environment.

Get to know Zmanda!

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

In past few quarters Zmanda has been growing at a break-neck pace. This has transformed us in many different ways. In the past 12 months, we have almost quadrupled our customer base (which is now in 40 countries!), introduced our third product line (Zmanda Internet Backup) and built new relationships with some of the leading IT infrastructure providers in the world.

These changes merit a fresh introduction. Some of you have openly wondered about who we are. Well, here is your chance to hear directly from us. Join us for a webinar on December 17th at 10AM (Pacific Time), titled: Get to Know Zmanda! In this webinar Zmanda CEO Chander Kant will discuss our business model, our philosophy and overview our product lines.

Dmitri Joukovski

ftp support for BackupPC

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

We are happy to announce the beta release of BackupPC Community Edition version 3.1.0+ftp.

This release contains backup and recovery using ftp protocol and other changes to improve testability and maintainability on top of 3.1.0 release.  Zmanda engineers have been working on these changes for last few months.

We provide rpm packages for RedHat Enterprise 4 and 5, Suse Linux Enterprise 9 and 10. We will be adding BackupPC packages for other platforms in the near future.

Please provide feedback on the beta release. We would be happy to hear from you about feature suggestions as well as any questions. is a good place to start.

Data Protection for Today’s Economy: Amber Road and Zmanda

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Today Sun announced the new 7000 line (aka Amber Road) of open storage appliances. Amber Road runs OpenSolaris and ZFS on industry-standard x86 hardware and includes innovative management software developed by Sun’s FISHworks (Fully Integrated Software and Hardware) group.

Our engineers worked along with Sun’s technologists on Amber Road in Sun’s labs for past few weeks, and today we are announcing support for Amber Road with both of our products Amanda Enterprise and Zmanda Recovery Manager for MySQL.

Amber Road is another example of innovation and value created by combination of open source and open systems. Combine  Amber Road with Zmanda’s open source backup products and you can deploy an extremely scalable and blazing fast backup solution at 1/5th the cost of products from proprietary vendors. We are also offering a free 60 days trial to all Sun Storage Systems customers (please contact your Sun or Zmanda sales rep for this).

Amanda and Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS) backup tape rotation

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

The GFS tape rotation scheme is a popular method of maintaining backups on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. The primary purpose of the GFS scheme is to suggest a minimum standard and consistent interval at which to rotate and retire the media.

In general, GFS backup schemes are based on a seven-day weekly schedule beginning any day. A full backup is performed at least once a week. On all other days, full, partial, or no backups are performed. The daily backups are the Sons. One full backup in the week (the weekly backup) is the Father. One full backup of the month (the monthly backup) is the Grandfather. GFS rotation schemes allow you to back up your servers for an entire year using a minimum number of media.

Amanda can be used to implement GFS tape rotation schedule. User can implement three backup sets for daily, weekly, monthly schedule. An example for 5 day GFS tape rotation is explained below.

Daily full/incremental backup on Mon-Thu, weekly full backup on Fridays and monthly full backup on first Friday of the month.

  1. Daily backup set is scheduled to run weekdays (M-Thu). The Amanda strategy is set to “inconly” and a tape rotation cycle of 4.
  2. Weekly backup set is scheduled to do backup on all Fridays except first one in the month. The Amanda strategy is set to “noinc” and a tape rotation cycle of 5.
  3. Monthly backup set is scheduled to to backup on first Friday of the month. The Amanda strategy is set to “noinc” and a tape rotation cycle of 13.

Amanda enterprise management console allows the administrator to identify the media volume that was used for the backup, media volume that will be used next and also information about client, media backup failures.

Users can move tapes from daily backup set to weekly backup set and from weekly backup set to monthly backup set to reduce the wear/tear on the media.