Recognizing the role virtualization is plays in an IT administrator's toolbox, Symantec had added the ability to create virtual machines (VMs) with the latest version of its popular backup and recovery software, Backup Exec System Recovery (BESR) 7.0.
Announced today [Tuesday], Backup Exec System Recovery 7.0 users can take a standard BESR system recovery image ("recovery point") and convert it to VMware's .vmdk format, for use in VMware ESX or VMware Server (formerly GSX) hosts, or to the .VMDK format used by Microsoft Virtual Server. Using a GUI-based wizard, users can optionally do a virtual-to-physical (V2P) conversion as well.
Backup Exec System Recovery hails from Symantec's 2003 acquisition of v2i Protector from PowerQuest Corp. and is a separate, if complimentary, product from the usual Backup Exec 11d found in most shops. As a bare metal recovery product, BESR creates a complete, byte-level image of a system, including operating system, applications, and data. From there, it creates a (theoretically) hardware-agnostic recovery image and boot CD.
"Going physical-to-physical, that's why this product is so successful; because we handle all that stuff so well," said Steve Fairbanks, Symantec senior director of product management.
But with the increased presence of servers running virtualization software in the data center, it may make sense for IT administrators to utilize spare capacity on those nodes as interim disaster recovery platforms. The P2V capabilities can also be used to enable testing or software development, Fairbanks said, and are fully scriptable.
BESR 6.5 user Jerry Leskiv has been beta testing version 7.0 in his job as systems administrator with Rampant Inc., a hosting provider in Independence, Ohio. Leskiv said BESR 70's ability to recover to a VMware environment is the fastest of all his recovery options.
"With traditional tape backup, it can take six to 12 hours to get a system back after a systems failure," Leskiv said. And while he can use BESR to recover a system to bare metal in a couple of hours, converting his recovery point to a VMware image takes half as long.
Not P2V, per se
It should be noted that while Backup Exec is performing a physical-to-virtual (P2V) function, it is not a P2V tool in the sense of VMware Converter, PlateSpin PowerConvert, or Acronis FullCirle, to name a few. Those tools are designed to assist in the mass migration of operating systems to a virtual environment and are priced accordingly, ranging from free (VMware Converter) to around $200 per migration (PlateSpin PowerConvert). At over one $1,000 per full server license, BESR's P2V capabilities -- and the ability to take them back again with virtual-to-physical (V2P) -- may thus probably better used as an interim solution while a physical server is being rebuilt.
Other features of BESR 7.0 includes new support for x64 platforms, Microsoft Vista, a new management console, enhanced Exchange data recovery, and integration with Google Desktop and Backup Exec Retrieve. It is also available as an optional add-on for Backup Exec for Windows Servers.
Pricing for Backup Exec System Recovery is as follows: BESR 7.0 Desktop Edition lists for $69 per workstation; BESR Small Business Server Edition lists for $695; and BESR Server Edition for $1,095. The Backup Exec for Windows Servers System Recovery Option, which includes the P2V functionality, lists for $695.
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