Tactical Advice

CA's Virtual Backup Agent

ARCserve Backup Agent for Virtual Machines lets IT back up and restore virtually.
This story appears in the September 2010 issue of BizTech Magazine.

Most IT organizations have server virtualization well under way. One issue to consider moving forward is how virtualization affects data backup and restoration.

IT departments that have deployed CA’s ARCserve Backup will find that ARCserve Agent for Virtual Machines helps meet the challenge of backing up and remotely restoring virtual servers without having to add another manufacturer’s product. IT shops that have yet to deploy CA’s backup software may find that the features of the ARCserve Agent give them a reason to invest in CA for their virtual environment.

I took a look at the ARCserve Agent in combination with CA’s ARCserve Backup File Server Suite, testing it in a VMware environment. The software is a good fit for small to midsize virtual environments and offers a strong continuity of operations tool. ARCserve also does an excellent job of backing up application files, which makes it ideal for organizations running virtual desktops over thin clients.

End-User Advantages

ARCserve Agent takes advantage of all the built-in features of VMware, including the VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) interface. There’s no need to run backup agents on each virtual machine (VM) — a single agent runs as part of VMware. The Agent also works with other VM environments, including Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer.

IT managers can also use VCB’s multistream feature, which lets them perform multiple VM backups simultaneously. And ARCserve offers deduplication of VM backups, which makes backup storage more efficient. Through deduplication, the repetitive operating system data associated with multiple VMs doesn’t overburden the organization’s disk and tape storage.

ARCserve uses VCB to move the processing required for VM backups to a dedicated backup proxy. This cuts down on the processing overhead of the VMware server, so backup occurs without significantly affecting VM performance.

The IT team can then run frequent incremental backups without worrying about the impact on the production environment. Also, because VCB lets the backup run over a storage area network to the proxy server, the impact of the backup on network performance is significantly reduced.

The ARCserve Agent also offers additional features for IT shops using Windows VMs. The software can run backups of individual VMs at the file level, which lets IT staff restore individual files to a specific previous state without having to perform a full restore of the system.

Why It Works for IT

ARCserve Backup Agent for Virtual Machines makes it easier to handle a mix of requirements because it supports mixed-mode backups. A mixed-mode backup lets IT combine backup jobs so the staff can run a snapshot of the whole server (raw mode) and daily incremental and differential backups in file mode — within a single backup job. In the case of VMware, this offers the efficiency of its built-in raw feature while still delivering the ability to restore individual files.

The Agent also lets IT automatically restore a VM in the event of a crash. There’s no need to manually start the recovery process, which means less downtime and a lighter workload for IT. And if the staff needs to restore a file to a VM, ARCserve offers single-step file-level restores from image-level backups of the guest operating systems.

Disadvantages

The main disadvantage of ARCserve Backup Agent for Virtual Machines is that its file-level and application-level backup features are available only for Windows VMs. If an organization runs virtual Linux systems, those systems have to be backed up in raw mode.

Finally, ARCserve may not be the right choice for IT shops supporting a large-scale virtual environment. This software works best for organizations that support 100 to 5,000 virtual Windows servers and clients.

Sean Gallagher, who began his career as an IT project manager for the Navy, has spent two decades as a technology writer and reviewer.
Sign up for our e-newsletter

Security

Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...
Tools to Maintain Mobile Sec... |
Far-flung devices pose serious challenges, but a variety of technologies can help protect...
Edward Snowden Personifies t... |
The NSA leak shows critical areas where organizations can better protect their data.

Storage

The New Backup Utility Proce... |
Just getting used to the Windows 8 workflow? Prepare for a change.
How to Perform Traditional W... |
With previous versions going unused, Microsoft radically reimagined the backup utility in...
5 Easy Ways to Build a Bette... |
While large enterprises have the resources of an entire IT department behind them, these...

Infrastructure Optimization

The Value of Converged Infra... |
Improvements in security, management and efficiency are just a few of the benefits CI can...
Curse Builds a Private Cloud... |
One of the top resources in online gaming builds out a robust infrastructure that can...
SDN at the Forefront of HP’s... |
Computing giant kicks off Interop 2014 with a series of announcements aimed at turning...

Networking

Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...
How to Maximize WAN Bandwidt... |
Understand six common problems that plague wide area networks — and how to address them.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Mobile & Wireless

Now that Office for iPad Is... |
After waiting awhile for Microsoft’s productivity suite to arrive, professionals who use...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Hardware & Software

Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.
The Tools That Power Busines... |
Ever-evolving analytic software can greatly improve financial institutions’ decision-...
XP-iration Date: Today Is th... |
It’s officially lights out for Windows XP as an operating system. Here’s how the world is...