REVIEW: Barracuda Backup

Barracuda Backup

Companies looking to buy or extend backup facilities are faced with a myriad of choices. Should you go for custom software and backup locally, for example, invest in a dedicated backup server or, perhaps, use the cloud to store backups? And what about protecting virtual servers? Fortunately, by opting for Barracuda Backup you can cover all these bases, and more, in one scalable and easy to manage appliance.

Your Starter For Ten

Barracuda Backup

The biggest decision when choosing Barracuda Backup is which of the SuperMicro-based appliances to go for. A decision made all the easier by virtue of simple pricing based on capacity rather than having to buy licenses for each server, application and user to be protected which can cause costs to skyrocket, even on small networks.

All you have to do is work out how much storage you’ll need. On small businesses and branch networks for example the freestanding Barracuda Backup 190 (£899 ex. VAT) can handle around 200-500GB of data while, for those wanting rack mount, the Backup 390 (£2,249 ex. VAT) raises this to 1TB.

Now, that may not sound like a lot, but with data compression and, more importantly, data deduplication as standard it goes an awful long way. Plus you can replicate backups both to other appliances and the cloud, which we’ll cover shortly.

Network connection is via a single Gigabit Ethernet port on the smaller appliances with 10GbE available on high end models such as the Backup 990 (£40,449 ex. VAT) this model delivering 33TB of storage on a 16-drive array. And if that’s not enough, the 1090 (£121,349 ex. VAT) comes with 102TB of backup space with hot-swap drives and redundant power available on both these and other top of the range models.

All-In-One

Barracuda Backup

Everything you need in terms of software comes pre-installed on the Barracuda appliance with the same software and capabilities on every box regardless of model. More than that, the software is designed to use APIs and standard interfaces built into platforms such as Windows and VMware, reducing processing overheads and largely eliminating the need to install and configure agents.

There are exceptions, but the agents needed are also to be found on the box enabling the Barracuda appliance to be used to back up a mix of Windows, Mac and Linux systems. Desktops and servers can both be protected with specific support for Microsoft Exchange including recovery to the individual message level. Likewise there’s support for SQL Server and, in the virtual world, both VMware and Hyper-V.

Flexible Backup & Recovery

Barracuda Backup

Management is via a user-friendly Web console which opens with an interactive dashboard to show the current backup/recovery status with links to drill down to fix problems or change the setup. The same console can be used to configure and monitor multiple appliances – an important consideration as another key feature of Barracuda Backup is the ability to replicate backups both to other appliances or, via the Internet, to storage in the Barracuda cloud.

This ability to automatically replicate and mirror backup stores makes for very flexible configuration. It also enables companies to get almost continuous protection for very little effort. Even those with a distributed branch network where backups could be taken locally and replicated to a much larger central appliance for additional protection. The consolidated appliances could then be further replicated to the cloud or those in the branches configured to backup to the cloud directly.

The only things to look out for are the need for sufficient bandwidth to cope with replication and the cost of cloud storage which is sold in 200GB increments. You also have to start with at least a model 490 (£4,449 ex. VAT) in order to consolidate backups from multiple appliances.

Recovery is just as fluid and can be done using any replicated store to multiple locations with bare metal recovery for most server and desktop platforms, if required. VMware users also get the option to boot and run their VMs either on a Backup appliance or, as of the latest version of software, in the cloud. Known as LiveBoot for VMware, this feature enables business-critical virtual servers to be recovered in minutes and to carry on working while time is spent sorting out whatever caused them to crash.

Easy To Use

Barracuda Backup

We found Barracuda Backup very straightforward, especially when it came to creating new backup jobs. Simply choose the backup source, select the data to be copied, the locations to copy it to and the schedule to apply, with open-file support built in to maximise the available backup window.

Likewise, when it comes to recovery it’s mostly a matter of browsing for the files to be restored and pressing a few buttons. You can even delegate recovery to individual users via Copy, the Barracuda-owned cloud storage service which gives every user 15GB for free.

But don’t just take our word for it. You can try the Barracuda Backup interface out for yourself at Barracuda Live, or sign up for an evaluation unit to see exactly how it measures up in your organisation.

Verdict

With a wide choice of appliances to choose from, Barracuda Backup is a very easy to manage solution that can be scaled to suit a wide range of business needs, the automated replication capabilities further extending that scalability and reach.

On the downside there are no long-term archiving option and no offloading of data to tape, but disk-based backup and the use of the cloud are in many ways superior and increasingly on a par in terms of price. Our only other concern was the lack of any facility to handle legacy platforms and applications.

The ability to cope with both physical and virtual resources, on the other hands, is a key selling point and we were particularly impressed with the LiveBoot option, VMs taking just a few minutes to bring online in our tests. This capability is limited to VMware at present, but Hyper-V support can’t be that far off and its worth bearing in mind that, with updates automatically downloaded and applied, maintenance is very much a no-brainer. Especially if you go for the optional instant replacement service pledged to replacing failed appliances, pre-loaded with data from the cloud, the same day.

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