TechProGuild held an online chat on Sept. 14, 2000 in which Ron Nutter discussed Enterprise backup strategies using Legato Networker. Here's the transcript from that chat.
Note: TechProGuild edits Guild Meeting transcripts for clarity.
MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to tonight's Guild Meeting. The topic for today is creating an enterprise backup strategy using Legato's Networker. Our Guest Speaker for tonight will be Ron Nutter, a frequent contributor to TechRepublic.
JCARLISLE: Hi, everyone!
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Good evening, everyone! Although it can be a dry topic, tape backup becomes more and more important as the size of your network and the number of servers continues to grow. Add to that a diverse makeup of servers (NT, NetWare, and/or UNIX) can make for a lot of administrative work that I am sure we would all prefer to do without.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: In case you haven’t checked in at TechProGuild lately, there is an article that I have written that goes over the highlights of backing up an enterprise network and another briefer article on what type of tape backup methodology to use.
JCARLISLE: Does Legato only work on NT? The Web site seems a bit confusing...
JCARLISLE: Legato's, not TPG's. :o)
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Just as challenging is that as the number of servers grows, your available backup window seems to shrink, giving you less time to backup even more data.
Benefits of Legato
EECKEL: What benefits does Legato have over other tools?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Legato works on NT, NetWare, and UNIX. Legato's history comes from the UNIX environment and it seems to have made the transition to the NT and NetWare worlds.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: The big difference I have seen with Legato over some of the other backup software packages is that it is made for speed and is definitely made for backing up multiple servers.
JCARLISLE: The online docs seem to suggest it doesn’t run natively on NetWare, that you have to have an NT host. Is that true?
MADDBA: We plan to use it on Solaris—can we connect to our NetWare servers and back them up also?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: I haven’t looked at the NetWare side lately but I have seen it run on the NetWare platform a couple of years ago.
Backing up GroupWise
MADDBA: Can you back up GroupWise with it?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Yes you should be able to do just that. You will need to install the networker client on the network server, perform the necessary configuration on the Solaris server and you should be good to go. Assuming you are running NW 5.1, it should be doable. Don’t know about trying a pure IP configuration with NW 4.x.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: You should be able to. I just got the update to the copy I have running at the office yesterday and haven’t had a chance to look at it.
MADDBA: It does not have a GroupWise agent, but does have an open file agent.
MADDBA: Do you think it’s safe to back up GroupWise with an open file agent not designed specifically for GroupWise?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: A possible solution would be to use the cron.nlm to autounload GroupWise, do a cold backup, and then reload GroupWise using cron after the backup completes.
MADDBA:That's an idea! However, e-mail would be down during the backup.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: I wouldn’t try that without checking with Legato support. I think the safer option would be to unload GroupWise using cron, do a cold backup and the reload GroupWise. True, e-mail would be down but at least you would get a good clean backup!
JCARLISLE: Depends how many users will be doing e-mail at 3 A.M.
Backing up Oracle
MADDBA: Are you familiar with Legato's Oracle backup agent?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Also true, the beauty with Legato is that I have seen it back up at 2 to 3 times the speed of Arcserve, so how long mail would be unavailable might not be that bad.
JCARLISLE: I know that ArcServe has a tendency to be a disaster and Backup Exec only somewhat mildly better. How does Networker compare with them otherwise? Price as well as performance.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: A little bit. The company I work at during the day has been trying to implement it but so far, we have found, due to the time of day that we are backing up the Oracle servers (we have 4), that we have been able to get a good clean backup. Still need to get the agent online properly but we have been ok for now.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: I won’t kid you, Legato is fairly ugly to configure. Even with reading the manuals, I still spent several hours on the phone with Legato support to get things up and running.
MADDBA: You have or have not gotten Oracle backups?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: The biggest problem is the learning curve and understanding the Legato ease for getting backups and restores.
JCARLISLE: Ack... What about stability? I’ve seen ArcServe turn an otherwise stable server into an Abend monster.
MADDBA: No kidding!
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: I have gotten Oracle backups, just not using the agent. We can get away with that for now because it seems our Oracle servers go quiet just before the backup window starts and stay that way till well after the backup has finished.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: In the 9 months that I have been backing up our Exchange server with the Exchange agent from Legato, I have only had a problem twice—both relating to the change of the service account on the Exchange server. That is far less problem than we had with Arcserve and Exchange—I opened up a call with CAI at least once every two weeks.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: We started running Networker on a dedicated NT server but over time have started running other apps on that same server.
MADDBA: So, are you putting the tablespaces in hot backup mode, or taking down the instances?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Found that giving the server a little more RAM and another processor more than made up the difference for adding other apps to the server.
JCARLISLE: Does it seem more stable on NT than NetWare?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Yes we are doing it in hot backup mode and so far haven’t had a problem in restoring. One of the DBAs will connect in remotely before any major changes or patches are applied and do a disk backup if needed before the regular backup starts.
MADDBA: Have you tried to get the agent working very much?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: For month-end backups, we try to take the instances down (the backups run just before midnight and complete just after 2 A.M.) when doing a month-end backup.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Had worked with it when we implemented Legato but were having some configuration issues with Networker itself so had to back burner the full agent turnup—will need to revisit that as we have a manufacturing plant going online earlier next year and won’t have a local IS staff to speak of.
EECKEL: What're the average licensing costs for Legato?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Mostly depends on the number of servers and any agents that you need to run for backing up Exchange, Oracle, etc.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Out of the box, Networker will handle 10 servers. Past that point you need to purchase a client license pack and any agents that you need for special situations.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: My company ended up spending about $12,000 to get networker, the oracle agent, minichange agent. The Exchange agent came online a couple of months later. Networker isn’t cheap but I have seen more stability with it than I ever had with Arcserve. And the tech support is definitely better.
MADDBA: Do you use Legato with an autoloader or library?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: For budgeting purposes, you will need to plan on spending at least $1000 a year for Legato support for one contact person (more if you want priority support or more than one person as a contact).
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Using a Compaq TL892 mini-library, 10 tape DLT magazine with 2 DLT drives.
JCARLISLE: Regular maintenance support that necessary with the product?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: We have 3 backup jobs running during the night backing up three different server groups.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Depends on what changes you have going on. The $1000 support package also gets you regular update CDs from Legato. Since buying Networker late last year, we have had 2 updates sent to us.
EECKEL: Any word on how it works with Win2K?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: We also use support to bounce off ideas when we are thinking about changing our backup configuration before we actually do it.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Don’t know right at this point, will be finding out in a few weeks as we start ordering the equipment for the new plant in VA and will be using Legato there to back up Oracle.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: I would think it would be able to backup W2K. Haven’t seen anything in the latest docs to say that it wouldn’t.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: I have to deal with a MIS director that when there is a problem, he wants it fixed NOW. I told him that would come with a price tag attached and his response was to give me the corporate credit card to get what I needed.
JCARLISLE: LOL. Wish mine were as free with the card!
JCARLISLE: Does support include upgrades? Or just bug fixes?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t always that free but when he knows there really isn’t another other choice, he generally doesn’t argue a whole lot.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Yes, the support does include upgrades and fixes. We just got Networker 6 but 5.5.1 is working so well, I am reluctant to install the upgrade.
New in version 6.0
JCARLISLE: What's new in version 6?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: That's a very good question, just got the upgrade yesterday and haven’t had a chance to look at the readme’s.
MODERATOR: Well, you have 25 minutes left to read up on them Ron!
MODERATOR: Keep those ?s rolling everyone!
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: There is one quirk I have found with backing up the Exchange server. The backup appears to fail each night. The failure is a false failure. There is a known problem with how Networker reads the backup log and interprets the log as a series of consecutive failures. Getting into the deamon.log file can reassure you that everything is ok.
JCARLISLE: Where is that file?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: You can also check the backup log for the volume you used during the night and can tell very quickly that everything is ok. If there is a problem, the backup size will be smaller or be flagged as discard.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Don’t have the server right in front of me but I believe it is \win32app\nsr\log.
JCARLISLE: Any particular hardware you recommend when creating enterprise backups? How do you size/spec the hardware requirements?
JCARLISLE: I would think that just adding up your current storage wouldn’t cut it.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: One thing that I would recommend when using an autoloader or minilibrary is to turn on auto media management so that the drive can automatically load the tapes it needs when it needs them.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: For example, I have to back up 8 servers a night. We do this using three different backup jobs on a server with 1 gig of RAM, two 500-megahertz processors, and a Compaq TL892 mini-library.
JCARLISLE: How much do those run?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: You can expect to pay around $20k for the TL892.
JCARLISLE: DLT tapes?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: We tried to look at what we needed to back up now, which is about 30% of what we can expect to back up within a year or so.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Yes DLT tapes. Not cheap but they do run like a son of a gun!
MADDBA: DLT 7000 drives?
JCARLISLE: Can you use any type of optical storage?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Correct, actually TZ892s.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Not at this point, mostly due to speed of backup and the cost of backup media.
EECKEL: How large of a network should a system administrator be administering before considering Legato's Networker, in your opinion?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: That is a good question. For only a server or two, I probably wouldn’t go with Networker, although it is perfectly good for that level of network. I am responsible for a server farm of 14 servers and Arcserve simply wasn’t up to the task.
JCARLISLE: Now what are the other parts of Networker that Legato talks about...Networker HSM and Networker Remote. Where they and how do they work?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Part of what drove the decision was a statement made to us by Oracle that they would only provide support to us if we used Networker and not anything else.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Can’t help you with that, haven’t used those modules.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: I guess my best response would be it depends. I would look at what type of applications were being run on the server and see if they have any special backup requirements (i.e., Exchange, Oracle) and let that help drive what backup system will work the best.
MODERATOR: 10 minute warning everyone! Don’t forget, tonight's participation prize is an entry into our monthly drawing for the Guild Meeting Monthly Prize.
MODERATOR: This month’s prize is an Athlon Motherboard complete with CPU.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Using Networker is a little different than the normal backup package.
EECKEL: Does Networker offer any cloning capabilities?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: The backup occurs from the Networker server for scheduled backups. Restores occur from the client level. You can also initiate a server backup from the client end as well.
JCARLISLE: Can Networker reach down and backup client machines if you so choose?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Yes there are cloning functions in Networker—haven’t had a need to use it as yet.
EECKEL: What if it breaks down in the middle of a backup at two in the morning. Can I set it to page me?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Yes you can touch clients, the disadvantage, though, is that it will require an additional license on the Network server for each additional server/client that you want to back up (even if it isn’t backed up on a regular basis).
JCARLISLE: Additional if you go beyond the 10 that it comes with? Or additional for clients in general?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Haven’t found a way for it to do that. There has to be a way—so far it has been so reliable that that really hasn’t been an issue at my company.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Since network writes to the NT event logs in some cases, a third part monitoring app might be able to do the trick.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: When you go beyond the 10, you buy additional licenses in groups of 5 (you can get 1s but it is cheaper to go with a 5 pack).
JCARLISLE: So the 10 can be servers OR clients.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Yes that is correct. In Networker case, anything that you backup in Networker it thinks is a client.
JCARLISLE: I got it now. Great. What OSs will it back up? Both server and client?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: It backs up NT, NetWare, and some flavors of UNIX. Haven’t really looked at anything below NT as a client OS for backing up.
EECKEL: Networker can back up databases, too, right? It can accommodate all file types...
JCARLISLE: Does it skip open files?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Yes, it can back up databases but it will probably require a special backup agent so that you can back up the files while they are in use.
MODERATOR: Top of the hour...ready for a summary?
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: From what I have seen in our error logs, that would appear to be the case.
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: I know that during the past hour we have barely begun to scratch the surface. Given the environment I have to work with on a daily basis, I found that Networker runs faster and provides a little more flexibility than what I had available when running Arcserve.
EECKEL: Thanks for your time , rnutter!
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: The best suggestion I can make is to not try to implement it overnight like I had do; take your time and you will be pleased with the results.
MADDBA: Thanks for the info!
MODERATOR: Ok... thanks Ron for telling us about Legato Networker. Great information. And great participation everyone!
MODERATOR: And now it’s time to choose tonight's Guild Meeting winner....
SPEAKER_RNUTTER: Thanks to everyone for stopping by this evening! I hope that I was able to provide you some useful information!
MODERATOR: The Flying Finger of Fate goes up and down the user list and picks....
JCARLISLE: Congrats Mad!
MADDBA: Thanks, I've got to go!
MODERATOR: Thanks to Ron and to everyone else tonight.
MODERATOR: Guild Meeting adjourned.