LiveVault 2.2 Backs Up in Real Time
In the e-business age, where in which production systems must be running 24x7 and backup windows are practically non-existent, networkwide backup is, ironically, more crucial than ever. With this in mind, we decided to see how LiveVault 2.2 handles this situation. The Windows NT backup solution from Live Vault Corp. -- which recently changed its name from Network Integrity Inc. -- uses some clever real-time replication technology to help IT departments cope with dwindling backup windows.
Most backup solutions employ the traditional batch-style approach, which requires a predetermined time period or "window" -- usually in the middle of the night -- when a backup job is to start and during which time it copies files from a production server to tape.
Because it leverages a data-migration technology that migrates only changes -- or byte-level deltas in technical-speak -- to a backup server, LiveVault effectively overcomes this problem. In this schema, operators only have to make one complete networkwide backup. Changes in data are then migrated in real time to a LiveVault server.
We installed LiveVault on an AMD Athlon 750-MHz system with 320 MB of RAM and a 36 GB Cheetah Ultra-SCSI 2 fixed disk from Seagate Technology Inc. (www.seagate.com) running Windows NT Server 4.0, Enterprise Edition, with Service Pack 5 (SP5) installed. Our backup library was a PowerVault 120T autoloading DLT tape library from Dell Computer Corp. (www.dell.com). LiveVault can only be used with a tape library and does not support single tape backup devices.
We configured the Athlon test server to run Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 Enterprise Edition with SP3 installed and created an Exchange information store of about 1 GB. In addition to hosting Exchange, the Athlon application server also functions as the primary file server in our network environment.
Live Vault Corp. does not provide device drivers to facilitate interoperability between its LiveVault software and the tape libraries that are to be used in conjunction with it. The company says the device drivers must be provided either natively by a tape library device’s manufacturer or by the Windows NT operating system.
One of LiveVault’s most powerful features is its intuitive management console, which allows operators to specify backup policies that can trigger event-based operation. In addition, LiveVault lets users define routing mechanisms for backup events, so the occurrence of a predetermined event can trigger a mechanism to dispatch an e-mail or send a page, for example.
Like some of its more well-known brethren -- such as ARCserve from Computer Associates Int’l Inc. (www.cai.com) and Tivoli Storage Manager from Tivoli Systems Inc. (www.tivoli.com) -- LiveVault is a multitiered archival storage system. This schema allows LiveVault to maintain the most current versions of data and multiple or "intra-day" copies of data as it changes throughout the day or over time.
Using LiveVault’s Backup Policy wizard, we were able to define a series of backup policies that take advantage of both LiveVault’s byte-level replication capabilities and its multitiered storage paradigm. LiveVault lets you create policies for all of the data you want to backup in your network environment.
We were able to create separate backup policies for our Exchange Server information store, the Windows NT Server operating environment, and the 16 GB of data on our network file share. The number of unique backup policies that you can configure is almost unlimited.
LiveVault also lets you customize the window for each individual backup policy. You can specify a predetermined timeframe for backup, or choose LiveVault’s default 24x7 backup mode. We selected LiveVault’s 24x7 mode for use in all of our tests because it enables the product’s real-time data replication capabilities.
Because LiveVault’s data-replication capabilities rely upon an initial complete backup of all of the data in a network environment, you should probably first schedule LiveVault policies that affect mission-critical or production systems during a suitable backup window. Depending on the performance of your tape library and the amount of data being saved to tape, initial backup can take some time.
LiveVault offers two data restoration schemas: current and historical. Current data is defined as the most recent backup or -- in LiveVault’s 24x7 data-replication scheme -- up-to-the-minute data. Historical data can be any aged data selected from any point in time.
Not surprisingly, the process of restoring data can vary depending on the age of the data itself. When we tested LiveVault’s Restore wizard to restore the current data set of our Exchange Server’s information store, the restoration process took place quickly. LiveVault had only to copy the contents of our Athlon system’s 36 GB Cheetah fixed disk to itself. Using LiveVault to restore historical data from our tape library, however, required a slightly longer restoration time. In both cases, LiveVault’s Restore wizard was intuitive and flexible.
LiveVault is an extremely powerful tool that brings the capabilities of more comprehensive products such as ARCserve and Tivoli Storage Manager to homogeneous Windows NT environments. In enterprises where backup windows are practically nonexistent, LiveVault’s real-time data replication capabilities will be appreciated. And because of its intuitive user interface and simple backup, restore, and administration wizards, LiveVault is a veritable cinch to deploy and manage.
Live Vault Corp.
Price: $3,600 includes the ability to backup files located on the system running the LiveVault backup service via an integrated local agent; additional LiveVault agents are $1,300.
+ Easy to use, configure, and manage.
+ Real-time data replication capabilities allow full backup in the absence of substantive backup window.
+ Real-time data replication capabilities minimize impact on network performance during backup process.
- Runs only on Windows NT platforms.
- Does not support single tape backup devices.