I need to backup servers at my office.  Can someone tell me if this idea will work?

Posted on 2004-11-12
Last Modified: 2013-12-01
Okay... I am pretty new and designing backup solutions.  In fact I have never designed one solo before, so I'm nervous about pitching my idea to the president of the company without getting some feedback on it first.  I don't have anyone locally that I can bounce ideas off of, so I'm hoping that there are people here who can give me some pointers on what I should and shouldn't do.

For starters, I have a few different servers (2 Domain Controllers, Multiple SQL Servers, an Exchange Server, and a couple of file servers).  There is quite a bit of data that will need backed up.  I'm not sure if I will break a Terabyte or not, but it could be close (within a couple hundred GB or so).

I've been doing some research and I think I have a solution in mind that will work, but I need someone to point out the holes in my plan.  I'm thinking about purchasing a Dell PowerVault 745N with 2.8GHz P4, 2GB RAM, 4 250 GB HDs in a RAID 5 setup (my boss wants Dell hardware only).  I don't know if I will need more storage than this, because everyone I've talked to has different ideas about what exactly needs to be backed up.  The machine comes with Windows Storage Server 2003.  I think that I will be able to install Veritas Backup Exec on this machine and use it to copy files from the other servers to the PowerVault.  Then I have a 120GB Tape drive that I will install in the PowerVault and I will use it to make tape copies of all the data on the Power Vault for offsite storage.  This gives us protection against a huge disaster like fire, and it provides us with a quick recovery option if one of the servers in the office goes down.  I believe this type of setup is referred to as a Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape backup solution.

I have read that Windows Storage Server 2003 has features that are supposed to enable it to work well with Exchange, but I don't know exactly how it does this (I still have much to read), and also it supports VSS (Shadow Copy), but I'm not totaly sure how exactly that pertains to my situation.  I think it will let users, or myself to easily retrieve accidentally deleted or modified files.

I apologize for the long windedness, but I do not want to spend a ton of money without getting some feedback from people I trust.  I have had great experiences so far with the people here at Experts Exchange.

I look forward to any replies.  Thanks in advance.
Question by:naj2576
    LVL 15

    Assisted Solution

    First of all you must think and be sure about an amount of space you'll require, and the Backup Window Time so you don´t overload the Network.

    The Dell PowerVault is a pretty good machine and will full fill what you need, almost for sure!! It's very good to have 2 integrated 1 GBps ports.

    As for the tapes, I´ll advise you to use the Grandfather/ Father/ Son Scheme.

    One word of advice as for memory : the more the better, go for 4 Gb instead of 2 Gb.

    Make sure that this Server only "Backs UP", nothing else, cause Windows 2003 Storage Server is a bit heavy-load.

    Best Regards.
    LVL 6

    Accepted Solution

    Since you have SQL servers the backup might be a bit trickier.
    You will need to have a backup plan for them also. ( You will need to use SQL backup in SQL Server to back these up ).
    To cut a long story short the plan and the comments from mcp_jon are sound so in addition make sure you use SQL to backup data to the "BACKUP SERVER".
    The other area of special consideration is the eMail Server. You need tape backup software that can not only backup the server but backup individual mailboxes - so you can restore an individuals data when they delete it by accident and want it back.
    As mcp_jon says you should use 1 Gig cards bewteen servers and backup server. This means you also need a 1 Gig switch.
    Yet another consideration is that when you backup SQL you can't restore individual tables. This is by design. I have found this very frustrating so I also have a number of backup that backup only a single table. All this of course means MORE Diskspace. You can never have too much disk space.

    In summary you need to pay special consideration to SQL and Exchange and lots of DiskSpace. FINALLY - Make sure that the TAPE system can backup ALL data on a maximum of TWO tapes - preferably ONE or you will curse forever having to change tapes all the time.

    I prefer a tape drive per speciality server ( one for exchange , one for SQL ( backups more than one SQL server ) , one for File data including SQL dumps. ) We have SQL doing data dumps and table copies to a "BACKUP SERVER" Our ERP UNIX SERVER has a separate tape unit also. ie 4 hight speed high capacacity tapes. All servers have a mirrored hard disk which is then removed so should a system fail we do not need to restore OS etc - it is too hard, too many patches, too many small things to forget.

    Hope these ideas help.

    Author Comment

    I spoke with my boss earlier today (the one who makes the final decision on everything), and I went over my proposed backup solution.  He couldn't believe it was going to cost so much money, and that it was going to take so much hardware.  I talked things over with him, and now he only wants to backup a few servers(Exchange Server, 1 of the SQL Servers (very small), and the File Server.  The majority of the data that I was planning on backing up, he decided, was not important enough to back up because it could be replaced or recreated in a week or so.  He does not care about fast disaster recovery.  (Quick Rant:  I wish somone here would just make up there mind.  This is the third project in a row that has been scaled down due to costs, when there is a definite need for a good, scalable solution.  Sorry, had to get that out.)  So now I'm thinking that I could go with parkerig's suggestion of putting a different tape drive in each of the machines to be backed up (3 maybe 4 tape drives).

    But then would I have to buy licenses for multiple instances of the backup software (one for each machine with a tape drive), or can one server run the backup software (Veritas Backup Exec?) and control backups on multiple machines?  And now also I have to work on a rotation and archiving scheme (I'll save questions about that for another post.)

    Thanks for the advice guys.  You both made excellent points, so I'm going to split the points.  I will remember these suggestions for the future, but it doesn't look like I'll get to put them to good use as of right now.  Maybe someone else will find this thread useful.

    Thanks again. (Please let me know about the Backup software if you can - multiple instances or one central installation)

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