It's very seldom that a new product demonstration makes me raise a brow in interest. However, I can honestly say that I was blown away by a demo of Commvault Systems' Galaxy backup and recovery. If you're looking for an enterprise backup solution, be sure to consider Galaxy as a viable alternative.
I've seen and used quite a few enterprise systems on the market, so my opinion is worth almost a nickel more than the next guy. Right now, I can cover only what I got out of the Galaxy tour, but I'll refer back to this column in a couple of months when our installation is complete to weigh the good vs. the bad.
Answering the questions
Other techies in the office first met with the sales guy, and they were awed with the technology that Galaxy promised, especially its ability to restore Exchange. Since Exchange is only 10 percent of our server installs, I didn't jump up and down with excitement. A second meeting wasn't scheduled, mostly because we thought the software was too costly for our budget.
Six months later, when the sales guy showed up with his tech translator, I dove into pertinent questions, avoiding the normal slideshow gig. I asked how many servers Galaxy could multiplex or stream to the tapes at once. The reply was one. Huh? According to other storage vendors, such as Veritas, if you don't put multiple streams onto the same tape, you get slow backup times.
However, this isn't the case if you look at it from the point of view of restores. When it comes time to restore a server—the most important time to have a backup—you want it to restore as fast as possible. With data striped among other server's backups, you have to wade through all the data to get to the good stuff.
I also asked about server support. The server that holds the global catalog is a Windows server running Microsoft SQL Server. But the servers that are hooked to tape drives (media servers) can be Linux, Windows, HP-UX, Sun, AIX, Tru64, or NetWare. That covers the gamut.
After a few more questions and a few more good answers, I heard the sales tagline: "Think of how you want your backup software to work, and Galaxy works that way." This was true for us, because it closed the gaping holes in our Veritas products, made up for some of Arekia's shortcomings, and fixed some of Legato's irritations.
One of Galaxy's greatest features is its ability to restore Exchange. The sales guy had a 600-MHz Pentium 3 laptop running Windows 2000, Exchange 2000 (it also works on 5.5), and the Galaxy software. He walked me through how to use the Java interface, which is accessible via a Web site.
When I said, "This is a nice Windows interface, but what about the Java front end?" he replied, "That's what you're using." Galaxy has the nicest Java interface I've ever used. In fact, it looks just like the Explorer interface.
After doing a quick backup to disk (since there wasn't a DLT drive for the laptop), I went into Outlook, found an unread message, and hit Delete. To get a message back in any other backup software, you have to restore the entire user on another server and then copy the message off of, and back on to, the user's server. This is extremely tedious and practically impossible to do.
From the Galaxy interface, I drilled down to serve namer | Exchange | user Inbox and selected the message. In less than a minute, the message returned to Outlook, just like a new message. Even better, you can restore anything in the mailbox, including calendar items and tasks. Simply put, it's pretty impressive.
Galaxy has the fastest backup and restore times of any backup software I've seen, and it costs the same as any other enterprise-level system. Having met my criteria for disaster recovery software and backup and restore, Commvault Systems made it to my short list of backup vendors. Find out if Galaxy can fix your backup woes. I'll let you know in a few months if it fixes ours.
This article was originally published in the Enterprise Storage Space e-newsletter. To join the original discussion, click here.