Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Final Post

Hey, it is now late 2012 and I just want to report that the same tape unit is backing up all the same servers (DB, Exchange, UNIX and Windows file systems) using Tivoli Storage Manager.

Things have been very smooth, though there have been a couple of problems here and there.  One or two hiccoughs a year I can deal with, and the folks at TSM support always manage to completely remedy the situation.  A lot of times I find that there was something on our end that went astray.  This never happened with the Netbackup support, always something else broke within a couple of days, it was like a merry-go-round of problems.  Fix A, B breaks, fix B then C isn't working. Fix C and now A stopped again - repeat.

We have had two unfortunate server problems and TSM restore has worked extremely well during the high pressure time of need.  We couldn't have asked it to be there and do its job any better.

For months I worried that Netbackup just wouldn't be up if we needed to restore something - or that Murphy's Law would come along and the files we needed to restore would not available because that system was broken for the days we need to restore from.

TSM seems robust, mature and reliable.  All things that Netbackup was not.

In the end I hope anyone who stumbles across this is better informed about Symantec's Netbackup product.  In time things might change but why should I ever be tempted to go back?

I'll restate that in past jobs I have worked with other backup software, so it's not like I'm hung up on TSM but TSM is the option that management focused on here after weighing a few vendors.  Oracle Secure Backup worked very well where I was 5 years ago.  Other backup software worked very well but over the last decade the product has merged with other companies and no longer on the market under the name I used it as so I won't mention the name.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

We've moved...

Ha ha, we are still in the same location but as far as backup software goes We have moved on.  We settled on Tivoli Storage Manager 6.1

I should have posted this information a couple of months ago but after dealing with NotBackup I didn't want to jump the gun.  So I've waited a bit and now that I've backed up the NotBackup server on TSM I'm ready to can the whole thing and repurpose the server - to the latest version of TSM.  Currently I'm on a 5.x server that was handy.

I can say that the TSM client installs all went smoothly.  All my backup jobs kicked off as scheduled.  It's very intuitive on the client side.  And that goes for the restore function as well.  Of course I did a test restore for each server.  Something everyone should do since backups are worthless if you can't restore and finding out you have a problem after the server goes down is too late!

I am installing the newer product, TSM 6.1, on a diferent server to test out more features.  And I'm sceduling training on this product for next week.  I should post how that goes and progress/notes on the 6.1 version.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Good Example

Ha, this is classic. Today, June 3rd, some management guy calls me about the low marks I gave one of the support techs back 3 months ago!

So three months after taking a few moments of my time to respond to their questionnaire with honesty they call me. Gee, if it hadn't been the absolute worst support person (I won't call him a tech because he didn't do anything technical for me) then surely I'd have forgotten all about him after 90 days. Lame, guys.

So I'll go ahead and spell out the details here:
I call in regarding an issue, the queue randomly assigns "Joe" (names are changed to protect the guilty). Joe basically pulls some idea out of the air that "SLP" must be broken - so he fires off a new case to an "SLP expert" and he also fired off another case for some other reason that I don't recall now and won't waste time looking up.

The important thing here is that the SLP expert calls me up, we dig into this and the expert sums it up. We aren't using SLP and apparently it is not anything we need.

SLP Expert 1 point
Joe -10 points for utter failure on the shotgun formation. See the coach after the game.

Their random survery email just happened to strike on this case and so I had no problem being frank and honest in letting them know how poorly Joe ranked with regard to my case(s). I think the words "waste of my time" were noted in the comment.

Readers, I will say that many other support people at NotBackup I've worked with have been knowledgable, curteous and took ownership of the issue at hand. Over all I'd give the support staff an 8 out of 10. They are good people doing good work supporting a flawed product.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


It's been a while since the last post. I've put in at least 8 hours dealing with problems and snafu's in the last two weeks. That's not counting the routine things one expects with a backup solution, such as rotating tapes and the like.

The past week's ordeal has largely involved Symantec's Licensing. It seems that no one had followed through on why our SAN/NDMP license had expired a few months back and so it expired again.

Symantec seems to be proud of their Licensing Portal, to me it's just another layer of dirt.
To explain more let's look at what they provide. One of our licenses reads as:
I can make out VRTS = Veritas (legacy name for the product)
WIN=Windows, TIER 2 is probably our support level, STD LIC = Standard License and ACAD means it's an Academic license.
"BAND S" - who has any idea what that means?!

Other license terms such as XPLAT just beg for a Symantec Licensing Lexicon or something. It's no wonder that they actually have videos online to train people how their licensing works!!!! Who has time to learn their assinine procurement methods when you're dealing with all the other flaws in the software?

But all of the above doesn't really mean anything, NOTHING AT ALL, when your "feature" isn't working. All the lists they provide do not go to that level of detail. The great Symantec Licensing Portal gives ways to search by Customer Number, Serial Number, Agreement Number, on and on but there's no way to search by feature. What good is this? It's like covering the big hole in the wall with a pretty picture.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Why does NetBackup Suck?

Our implementation was done around April of 2008. It consists of roughly 16 servers, two NDMP (read EMC SAN storage systems) and a handful of MS SQL backup jobs.

Things ran OK for a while, and while seeing a problem here and there would be no cause for great alarm this small and non complex setup has generated about 20 cases or more. In one year I've surely spent at least a month of work hours dedicated to troubleshooting and getting back in touch with the support people at Symantec. Largely they seem to do a good job.

That's why NetBackup sucks and it's not "Symantec Sucks".
I've used several Symantec products for years and never found any problem with them. Until NetBackup! I've used at least four major backup products since working with Network/System Administration from 1996 on. Sure some have had quirks, but nothing that lead me to completely loose faith in them.

Last month I sent an email to our Symantec account manager expressing how I can not trust such a problem ridden system if we should have a real need (as in disaster) to restore this group of servers.

Well in that month I heard from one engineer who then went off to training and take some vacation time... after two weeks I'd really gotten NOTHING and was now loosing faith in their management. Another engineer who I'd worked with before got in touch and requested some diagnostic data. I readily supplied him with that, and a week later nothing seems to have come of it.

Well that's all for now, I'll post more as this goes along. If I get any serious down time (unlikely) then I'll docuement the cases and persistent problems that brought all this about.

Have a great day!

Monday, March 23, 2009

What does backup mean?

Backing up data - it's not "rocket surgery"!

What's tape backups purpose one might ask. Well, backing up is only half the task - all the purpose is in being able to restore data. Without restoring data everything else is a waste. All in all a backup solution is supposed to give you assurance that you will survive a physical catastrophe involving your storage device (PC, Server, SAN, etc.) so that you can recover your data at a later time or on a different device.

There is no magic in all this. It's not rocket science any more that your DVD player or MS Access home inventory is. If the software can stream data from a server to a tape in a drive and then retrieve the same - that's all.

Most backup software does helpful tasks such as keeping a catalog so that you don't have to manually date stamp each tape and mark which server is on each tape along with the elements backed up (Files, Database, multiple partions, etc.)

Wow, is that all?! Yeah, that sums it up for most Sysads that I know.

Why does this blog exist?

"It's NetBackup, not 'NetRestore'"

-- intended joke from Symantec NetBackup support person on the phone

Why does this blog exist?

Well basically our group bought a SAN solution which lead to us combining that purchase with a newer tape backup product. The integrator was a large PC manufacturer who tied in with a major SAN provider and brought Symantec's NetBackup product in to do the job.

The criticality of having your SAN backed up doesn't quite give you the change to evaluate different products first hand and our budget certainly doesn't allow us to buy several physical servers to run different products on (tape drives connected via fiber don't allow the use of virtual servers in this case).

Normally if I found a product that sucked as mush as Symantec NetBackup does then I'd just concentrate on moving to another product and would not waste time documenting it in a blog. Alas, I'm stuck with this product for the foreseeable future and the institution has spent a large sum of money on it... so I'm blogging this for posterity.