Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Acronis Backup and Recovery Advanced Server 10

Getting up and running with Acronis Backup and Recovery Advanced Server 10 is pretty quick, especially for the demo. It took under an hour to install, configure and start backing up a Windows 2008 Standard server. Getting the Backup agent installed on our Linux servers took a little bit more work because of the SnapAPI kernel modules. After a little bit of digging around in the Acronis knowledge base I was able to resolve all of the issues I had getting the Acronis Backup Agent installed on our CentOS 5.4 servers. If we go with Acronis Backup and Recovery Advanced Server 10 I will need to add some additional lines to our Linux Post-Install script to add in the kernel-devel package and the additional RPMs that the agent needs. (DKMS and SnapAPI) both of which are already on our Storage drive.

With our second trial run here we where able to resolve most of the outstanding issues we had from the first trial. Namely excessive recovery times and recovering to dis-similar hardware. I have yet to truly attempt a Linux restore to dis-similar hardware, but I have the base system recovered and the instructions, so I will be attempting one later this week (with results to follow). Restoring our Windows machines to either dis-similar hardware or a VM is pretty straight forward with the Universal Restore CD. The main problem holding us back in those scenarios is not having the drivers readily available for post install. This can be remedied by always going to VM and installing the VM tools as they also contain the drivers for the system.

Each backup policy allows us to modify settings for the backups such as Encryption, Compression, and throttling resources. The encryption can have a separate encryption key and varying levels of encryption from none to AES-128, AES-192, and finally AES-256. The automated backups can do a simple backup plan with full and incremental that are stored as a file on the storage system. The policy also allows us to run custom commands before and after the backup so can could do a virus scan, or shred temp files or what ever we desired.

One of the strangest problems I came across was while doing the restores to VM, if started from the VMs Console after picking the Disk to recover to the process could take hours to complete. Whereas if I did the same restore on to physical hardware the process would take seconds. The work around is to boot the VM from the Universal Restore CD and use the Management Console to connect to the VM. Once connected to the VM from the Management console I was able to start the restore in a matter of minutes, more akin to a physical machine.

Something to remember when setting up the backup policy for Linux machines that utilize LVM is to back up the disk as a whole. You don't want to backup the LVM by its self because after the restore it will fail to boot.

All in all I feel that Acronis would make a wonderful addition to our eco-system. It fulfills all of the requirements of our backup scheme, except the web based access, which is not uncommon for Windows based software.

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