Symantec NetBackup 5220 Backup Appliance Assumes Its Own Identity
Everyone generally knows that the simplicity associated with deploying backup appliances have made them a hot ticket in customer environments. This is a big reason that the market for these devices is forecasted to grow by 17% annually over the next couple of years. But what many are recognizing is that these appliances can be much more than just shrink-wrapped packages with backup software and server and storage hardware.
The Symantec NetBackup 5220 represents one of the first backup appliances to take advantage of the new possibilities that backup appliances create. In the 5220, we see this in two ways.
- First, Symantec bundles more software from other parts of its product line.
- Second, Symantec introduces new features into the 5220 that enhances its overall value beyond simple backup.
As the above image illustrates, there are two new software products that Symantec NetBackup 5220 now includes. On the left hand side is Symantec Critical System Protection that is deployed as an unmanaged agent on the NetBackup 5220. Using this agent, the 5220 will do host intrusion detection thereby monitoring and auditing itself and generate alerts if anyone accesses it. If they do, administrators may then see what they have doing on the appliance (changing files, which applications they have been accessing, etc.)
Those organizations that already use Critical System Protection within their environment to protect physical and virtual servers may alternatively activate the agent and make it a managed agent. When used this way, organizations may integrate it with their existing Critical System Protection server and then centrally manage the NetBackup 5220 as part of their broader intrusion prevention scheme.
On the right hand side we see that Symantec introduces WAN optimization into the 5220. In this case, Symantec has partnered to introduce this software to optimize outbound traffic. In its internal testing, Symantec has consistently seen about a 2x performance increase whether replicating to other appliances at other sites or even when replicating to the cloud.
Of the two, replicating to the cloud was a driver behind the introduction of this feature. As NetBackup had already extended its support for cloud providers to include AT&T, Amazon and Rackspace in addition to Nirvanix, more of its customers were looking to leverage this new NetBackup option to store data in the cloud. So by introducing WAN optimization into the 5220 itself, they now get the flexibility to do so.
Yet what I personally found most intriguing about this release is how the NetBackup 5220 is prompting the need for new feature functionality to be added into the NetBackup software itself and then shipped with the NetBackup 5220 even before it ships with NetBackup. In this particular case, the NetBackup 5220 was encountering a specific challenge when it was deployed to backup some VMware environments.
If asked to be an off-host backup in a VMware environment with shared storage, it would want to leverage the VMware API to make a snapshot of the VM so it would not impact the ESX host. However to perform that off-host VM backup, it still required a Windows box somewhere. While this could be the backup server, since the NetBackup 5220 uses Linux, the 5220 used to rely on some external Windows server to perform the backup as VMware's data protection APIs were primarily designed to work in Windows environments.
However in working with VMware, they jointly developed a functional API for Linux. Now the NetBackup 5220 no longer needs either a physical or virtual Windows host to do off-host backups of VMs. It may now perform this backup itself. Symantec refers to this as direct vSphere backups.
Making this particular functionality noteworthy is that it is currently only available on the NetBackup 5220. While Symantec plans to add it to the software version of NetBackup in an upcoming release, the general availability of this feature on the NetBackup 5220 before it ships on the flagship NetBackup software highlights how backup appliances in general and the NetBackup 5220 specifically are poised to offer a more end-to-end solution than what might normally be built by a backup team.
Backup appliances are a hot ticket in customer environments and few appliances are hotter than the NetBackup 5220. But what organizations have to realize is that full extent of the operational savings that can be achieved with a purpose-built backup appliance that offers more than just deduplication or backup.
This release of the NetBackup 5220 exemplifies a new breed of backup appliances that can perform a wider range of tasks. The NetBackup 5220's inclusion of the direct vSphere backup, Critical System Protection and WAN optimization software coupled with the new feature functionality in NetBackup itself that for, right now, can only be found on the NetBackup 5220 indicates the broader potential that NetBackup appliances have to reduce backup complexity and drive down the cost of backup.