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Finally, I will address heterogeneous networks. One of the major problems with using a built-in Windows Backup utility is that it is limited to Windows machines. Although it would be simpler to have everyone using a single operating system, this simply is not how it works in the real world. In large part due to its price, Linux is now the second most popular server operating system, behind Windows, in terms of numbers of units shipped. But, the use of Linus and Windows both can cause problems for IT staff trying to keep everything backed up.
PCMall, an E-commerce firm based in Torrance, California, learned this when they started using Linux a few years ago. The company decided to open up a subsidiary, eLinux, and felt that it had better use the software internally if it was going to sell and support it. The company has about 800 users in four states operating in ten domains. The desktop environment is Windows XP/2000, but the server environment is quite a mix. The 60 servers run Windows NT/2000 and HPUX, as well as several versions of Linux — primarily Red Hat, Caldera, and Immunex. The first use of Linux at the company was for the E-commerce sites, but since then its use has expanded to provide additional infrastructure support for such things as NAT, DHCP, DNS, and IPChains. In addition, PCMall runs several open-source security products on Linux to monitor the status of its environment and to handle reporting. While the company was happy with the way Linux performed, no tool was available to backup the Linux servers together with those running on other platforms. The initial approach was simply to tar-ball the Linux systems up to tape or use AMANDA or some other open-source alternative that would work well for backups, but it was not possible to unify the environment.
Fortunately, as Linux has grown in popularity, so has the number of tools developed to support it in a heterogeneous environment. Legato Systems, VERITAS, Spectra Logic, Hewlett-Packard, and others now include Linux among the platforms they support with their backup products. Applicable to PCMall's case, Computer Associates started supporting Linux with its BrightStor EB software, so network-wide backups covering all of the machines can now be done, regardless of platform.
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