As many of you are well aware there was quite a shock to the system when Backup Exec 2012 came out. Many people had many different complaints and many held no reservation when expressing those complaints to Symantec Employees on Symantec Connect.
Some complained about not liking the new user interface, others had other complaints but most seemed to complain about the new philosophy on how they should execute backups.
In all previous versions of Backup Exec, the backup philosophy had been what Symantec now termed as a job-centric backup. In a job-centric backup you created a job, selected the resources from multiple servers, and specified every option and agent for the varying resources you might be backing up. A single job might have selections and backup options for Exchange, File, SQL, SharePoint and more.
In 2012, Symantec switched to what they call Server-Centric backups. This philosophy creates a separate job for each server. The benefit of being a new minimalist approach that was apparent through the whole new user interface. When you created a job for your Exchange server, you only saw selections and agent options that referenced those Exchange selections. No half a dozen other options that did not even apply to the resources you were backing up.
The Symantec Employees on Symantec Connect defended the philosophy that server-centric was better than job-centric and, that it allowed you to run multiple jobs in parallel and why would you ever want to do it any other way.
The problem with this is that instead of creating one job for ten servers I now had ten jobs for ten servers. This became a nightmare to manage. Instead of one job and one schedule going to one backup device (say a manual single-tape standalone tape drive, or, a single-tape autoloader or robotic library) I now had ten jobs, with ten separate schedules, all vying for that one device that could only process one job at a time. So now scheduling was more difficult.
The second problem was the notifications. As an administrator, I do not want to have to log into my Symantec Backup Exec server every day so I use email notifications. Using my previous example in 2010, with one job, one schedule, one device = one notification. In 2012, this changed to ten jobs, ten schedules, one device = ten notifications. So, now Symantec was spamming my inbox. This also meant you had ten alerts to clear in the Backup Exec GUI as opposed to one. The workaround for this was to disable all job alerts and to send a job summary report to my inbox daily. This got those ten emails back down to one.
The rumor is that Symantec was supposed to release Service Pack 2 (or R2 – not sure which) back in October 2012. This was then pushed back to February 2013 after some upper management changes. The rumor is that job-centric jobs may come back as an option. Furthermore, I was in a Symantec Event back in Q4 2012 and they displayed a screenshot of the “Job Monitor” tab back in 2012 GUI. A tab that was last seen in Backup Exec 2010.
Don’t get me wrong. Aside from the philosophical change in how we do backups Backup Exec 2012 has a lot of great new features. Simplified Disaster Recovery (SDR) replaced Intelligent Disaster Recovery (IDR) and is infinitely more superior. It borrows greatly from the Symantec System Recovery product line and offers all the benefits of bare-metal recovery to dissimilar hardware and recovery from a bootable DVD. It also includes great new recovery options such as restoring mailboxes directly to PST files, new search features that easily let you find items to recover and a fantastic new minimalist approach. One of the biggest problems with 2010 and earlier is that you saw every option and agent you had licensed in every job. So a simple file-server backup would contain agent options for Exchange, SQL or SharePoint. Furthermore, this minimalist approach also extends into storage. If, for example, you only had a USB hard drive connected as a backup destination you will never see any tape options anywhere in the GUI. Backup Exec 2012 also had great new options with converting the backups of physical servers to virtual machines, whether one-time or scheduled as a stage in a backup. job. The replacement of job policies with workflows and stages was also a tremendous improvement over previous versions. And this is just a few of the enhancements that spring to mind.
Symantec is on the right track but I think they did too much too soon. Hopefully, February will bring us good news.