8.2. Full Support of Your Platforms
One of the
ways to narrow the list of backup software vendors from which to choose is to find out who supports the platforms you are running. There is no reason that a vendor should have to answer an RFI with hundreds of questions if it doesn't support most of your platforms. By the same token, there is no reason you should have to read the answers to hundreds of responses from more than 50
. Before getting into the nitty-gritty features, simply find out who supports all or most of the platforms that need to be
The key word in the previous paragraph is "most." Most
are becoming increasingly heterogeneous, with a number of Unix variants, Intel-based operating systems, and any number of database-like products. In such a shop, there are always a few boxes that run a "different" version of Unix, an older version of Windows, some other operating system, or even a lesser-known database product that most products don't support. During the first cut, include products that back up
of the operating systems that you are running. Restricting the search to only those that handle every platform might exclude some very good products or force the selection of the wrong product. Many vendors will consider porting their products to a new operating system or database if a potential customer asks them to do so, although this may come at a cost. (In the final analysis, however, a product that has been supporting a particular platform for a while
supports it better.)
There are many different operating systems out there. There are Unix variants, Mac OS, various Windows flavors, NetWare, and mainframe operating systems. Most of the big products handle almost all of these. There was a time when you had to purchase one product for the Novell servers, one for Windows, one for Mac OS, one for the MVS mainframes, and yet another for the Unix servers. Today, some products handle all of those from one console. However, the rush by so many large backup products to support
has left a few holes. There are a number of examples of this. Things that are typically left out in Unix are block special files, character special files, and named pipes. Microsoft's System State and Active Directory also are occasionally left out, Mac OS resource forks are forgotten, and Novell's NDS is left out as well. Make sure each product fully supports the platforms it claims to support.
8.2.1. Should You Back Up Special Files?
If a backup product did not back up the Windows Registry, it would not be
certified by Microsoft. However, some prominent Unix backup packages don't back up special files and named pipes. (These are special types of files in Unix and Linux.) If the operating system is lost, their typical answer is to "reinstall the operating system and our software, and then start the restore." This takes too much time and involves writing a lot of information twice. If the backup system backed up the special files, there is a much quicker way to recover from the loss of the operating system. See Part IV of this book for more information about such
What if a system was able to boot, but the
directory was all messed up? Being able to restore those files can reduce the number of hours of downtime. Does the backup product really need to back up the device files? Yes it does!
A production system had a bad disk and lost the programs that ran the application, including the database. The normal backup backed up only the data, not the application software. My coworkers could not find the original software. Fortunately, I had a complete tape copy in my desk from testing before production, and we were able to use it to restore the software. (Eventually, the original software also was found,
, properly stored, and cataloged.)