Arkeia Network Backup can backup almost any machine on your network — fast.
Ask any experienced system administrator about his or her infrastructure and you’ll likely hear proud tales of big RAID arrays, redundant networks, failover this, and hot swap that– all sorts of things that make a good geek smile. But ask specifically about backups and your conversation will die faster than rm-rf / trashes a system. Because despite all of the advances in hardware and software over the years, backups remain a sore spot for many sites– unreliable, tricky to set up, difficult to manage, and painful to restore from in the event of data loss. Worse, many of the big commercial backup vendors treat Linux like a rented stepchild, with poor (if any) server and client tools.
However, at least one company has been providing Linux-friendly backup software for many years: Arkeia (http://www.arkeia.com). In addition to their flagship product, Arkeia Network Backup (ANB), the company offers other solutions for Linux, such as Server Backup (for a single server), Arkeia Light (limited to one server and two clients), and Disaster Recovery and Hot Backup modules for various services.
But how well does Arkeia’s ANB software work? And even if it supports Linux, it’s quite common to find Solaris, Windows, and Mac OS X on the network, too; how well does Arkeia support heterogenous networks? Let’s take a test drive and find out.
Backup to the Future
To test ANB, I created a test network of several disparate machines. The backup server was a 500 MHz Pentium III with 256 MB RAM and an 80 GB hard drive, running SuSE Professional 9.2. To capture backups, the server was connected to an Adaptec 29160 SCSI card, which was cabled to a SpectraLogic T120 tape library, with two LTO-2 Ultrium drives. The client machines were an IBM Thinkpad T20 running Mandrake Linux 10.1, an Apple Powerbook running Mac OS X 10.3, and a late-model Dell Windows XP box. All were connected via a switched, 100 MB network.
I started by downloading the ANB RPM file for the backup server. Arkeia’s ANB download page lists nearly fifty different platforms, including AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, all BSD variants, Debian, and various flavors of Red Hat, Mandrake, and 32- and 64-bit SuSE. But despite the plethora of options, the list wasn’t terribly current: the latest RPM for SuSE was for 9.0, which is nearly eighteen months old. (Several other distros were similarly outdated.) However, the RPM for SuSE 9.0 installed just fine on my backup server. The install deposited software in /opt/, two binaries in /usr/bin/, and a handful of entries in /etc/init.d/ to start the daemon. The RPM also ran the init script to kick-off the daemon.
Since reading documentation would irrepairably damage my geek credibility, I jumped right in by logging into the backup server and running xarkeia. The GUI tool started right up and presented me with a login screen with entries for hostname, user, and password. ANB uses its own set of user definitions, which can be a bit confusing. For example, ANB’s root is not the system’ root.
At the login screen, type root for the user name and click enter (the default password for ANB’s root account is null). The first screen is ANB’s main menu (shown in Figure One).