Symantec_backupWhat happens when your virtual infrastructure completely crashes? What happens if the facility that houses your infrastructure becomes a smoking hole in the ground? Do you have a good back up solution in place to protect your data from becoming forever lost? Have you ever used Symantec’s Backup Exec? As for backup software, Symantec’s Backup Exec is one of the best. So I have your attention now, let’s talk about what Backup Exec is, what it does and how it helps you to face today’s IT challenges. If you are running any type of virtualization software in your datacenter, especially VMware virtualization, then you’ll want to pay close attention to how Backup Exec can protect your virtual machines and their data.

What is Backup Exec?
Symantec boasts Backup Exec as “The gold standard in Unified Backup and Recovery”, of course everyone wants their product to be considered the gold standard, but let’s take a deeper look at what it is and how it works to protect your VMs. Even though Backup Exec is being touted as the gold standard in protecting your virtual machines, it’s important to point out that it works to protect physical machines as well. Backup Exec offers you the ability to back up and restore entire physical servers, Microsoft applications as well as VMware and Hyper-V virtual environments. Backup Exec currently supports VMware vSphere 5.1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, SQL 2012 SP1, Exchange 2013 and SharePoint 2013. As you can see, it is definitely up with the latest and greatest software packages out there, there’s even a Backup Exec agent for Linux servers. Here’s a good rundown from Symantec on some of the highlights of BE from their website:

Backup Exec dramatically reduces the time to recover from small or major disasters by protecting all of your virtual machines and/or physical servers through a single pass backup, while still allowing for individual file, folder and granular object level recovery. Unlike other solutions, it provides fast, powerful, reliable backup and recovery in a single, unified solution.

  • Eliminate complexity, save time and money with a single unified solution for virtual, physical, tape and disk
  • Gain fast, flexible and reliable recovery with one click recovery for all restores
  • Reduce storage and network traffic with true global deduplication across all backup jobs
  • Protect an unlimited number of guest machines per host with a single license
  • Backup Exec facing Today’s IT Challenges Head on
    What would you say are some of today’s toughest IT challenges? I think the list would include the reality that many VMs are simply unprotected or not provided adequate protection; the simple fact that virtualization increases storage consumption, talking about VM sprawl here folks; and the cost and time involved in managing both physical and virtual infrastructure backups. What about the disaster recovery challenges that we face today? Downtime is no longer measured in hours and days, but minutes; manual disaster recovery is very time-consuming and error prone; then you have your critical systems that can call for both on and off site protection. So what is BE doing to face all these challenges and provide a solution?

    Well first off, there are several different solutions for those looking to implement Backup Exec. If you are simply looking to employ Backup Exec as a software based solution, you can do just that, install it in your environment and deploy the agent as necessary to protect your infrastructure. If you want to provide a physical layer of protection there’s Symantec’s Backup Exec hardware appliance which you would rack in your datacenter and would provide protection with up to 5.5 TB of back-end storage for the deduplication option which at 9:1 would get somewhere between 35 to 40 TB of front end data protection. Then there’s the Cloud, of course the cloud! Symantec’s Backup provides you with 250 GB of data protection which is primarily aimed at the SMB market and provides continuous backup.

    How to Backup a VMware Host using Backup Exec
    I thought it would be good to at least cover quickly how backing up a VMware host happens using Backup Exec. Here is a list of the steps:
    1. After launching the Backup Exec Central Administration Server, you want to click on the “Backup and Restore” tab and then click on the right of the screen, “Add VMware Server”.

    2. Next you will see a wizard pop up that will prompt you to enter your vCenter or ESX server IP address and give it a description. Once you’ve entered in the data, click ‘next’.

    3. You will next select an account that you will use to logon, this should be your root account if you are adding an ESX host, after you’ve selected ‘root’ from the drop down, click ‘next’.

    4. Once you’ve added your ESX host you see that there are currently no jobs, so time to create a job. Click on ‘backup’ and then select ‘backup to disk’. Ensure that ‘Incremental’ is selected and then name your backup job what you want. You’ll next have to test your logon credentials which usually takes a few seconds.

    5. You will then be given the selection of which type of backup you want it to be, full, incremental, differential, etc. I know we said to select incremental in an earlier step, but here you can select which ever method of backup you would like. Once you’ve selected your backup and it kicks off, you can highlight your job and click the ‘job activity’ button at the top right part of the program.

    That’s it, it’s a fairly simple process. Watch the video tutorial below for a more detailed view of how to use Backup Exec to back up your VMs or ESX host.


    Backup Exec Licensing Options
    Then comes the question of licensing, hey, it’s an important question to ask. Backup Exec’s licensing isn’t super complicated like some other software licensing has been know to be, ahem, VMware… Backup Exec’s Capacity Licensing will get you 18+ servers and 1000+ seat which is based on the front end TBs to be protected. Plus, with their new BE Capacity Promotion, you can save up to 65%. Backup Exec 2012, which is the traditional solution provided by Symantec, will get you protection for 4-17 servers, there is no limit on the number of seats. The newest licensing option is the Symantec Backup Exec Small Business Edition which will cover 1-3 server or 3-70 seats, primarily targeting the SMB market (note: this replaces the Backup Exec Small Business Server edition). Finally, the Backup Exec V-Ray edition. The Backup Exec V-Ray edition is licensed per socket and includes the following licenses with every license of the V-Ray edition: Backup Exec media server license, unlimited agents for VMware and Hyper-V, unlimited agents for applications and databases and a Backup Exec Deduplication Option

    Is It The Best?
    Hard to say if it’s the best, it really depends on your situation and/or your budgetary concerns. There are many good backup programs out there that work well with VMware. What I find to be nice about Backup Exec is that it gives you the flexibility of working with both the physical environment and the virtual environment. From what I can tell the installation and procedures to get your hosts or VMs backed up is fairly painless. In the end, it really takes a good evaluation of the product on your part to make the decision on whether or not Backup Exec meets your needs. All in all it’s a great product and definitely holds its head high amongst the contenders in the backup and recovery market.

    Greg W Stuart
    Greg is the owner and editor of He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He works as a Sr. Consultant at VMware and resides in Northern Virginia, 15 minutes west of Washington DC.

    One thought on “What Symantec Backup Exec Can Do for You

    1. What would you say are the advantages of Backup Exec over Netbackup? Both Symantec products, but I’ve found many little things missing in Backup Exec that I was used to seeing in Netbackup. I’ve found Netbackup to be the more capable and flexible product, but I haven’t heard much in the press on Netbackup.

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