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Acronis Backup & Recovery used as Backup-as-a-Service

Written by Roy Mikes on Tuesday, 22 January 2013. Posted in Cloud

The rise of virtualization, the explosion of data creation and the opportunities Cloud services offer are bringing new challenges to maintaining effective backup and disaster recovery programs for critical data.

Acronis helps you securely migrate, protect and recover critical data wherever it resides in your physical, virtual or cloud environments. With a Unified Platform and next generation technology, its innovative solutions are designed to ease the management burden and reduce total cost of ownership, while improving your recovery time objectives.

I was recently asked by Acronis to extensively and critically test their product and give my opinion about it. They are not new in the market. Acronis originally focused on disk partitioning and boot loader software, they moved into backup and disaster recovery software based on disk imaging technology. Their flagship product line was Acronis True Image until 2009, at which time it was replaced in the corporate environment by Acronis Backup & Recovery. So whats up with this product next to other vendors like PHD Virtual, Veeam, EMC etc.

With version 11.5 Acronis Backup & Recovery grows along with the company and supports the changing needs of enterprise networks. Simultaneously, the solution provides a reduction of the total cost of ownership and provides it a faster, more efficient and comprehensive strategy for data protection. The new version of the modular and integrated platform Acronis Backup & Recovery provides customers the flexibility to only acquire licenses for the software agents and application support that they currently need and add more functionality when their environment changes. Many vendors use this licensing model. It is a choice that is understandable and is very flexible. It will not cost you more than necessary. 

My personal experience is a fixed price for a backup solution without additional costs of individual agents. Finally, nothing goes as fast as the deployment of virtual servers these days. And with no proper budget this sometimes cause problems. 

Installation

The installation is very simple. There is no deep technical knowledge necessary for this. Obviously, you need to think in advance about your Backup and Recovery Plan and how it should be decorated. After all, nothing goes without saying.

Acronis Backup & Recovery 11.5 uses TCP port 9876 for local installation and for communication between components. The setup program automatically opens this port through Windows Firewall. If you use a different firewall, make sure that the port is open for both incoming and outgoing requests through that firewall. 

Interface

After installation you find yourself in a clean and well conceived interface. Everything is on place were it should be. The Navigation pane (at the left part of the console) enables you to navigate across the product views that are used for different administering purposes. As soon as the console starts, the respective items appear across the console's workspace enabling you to perform machine-specific operations. The main area is a basic place where you work with the console. Here you create, edit and manage backup plans, recovery tasks and perform other operations.

(Cloud)backup and Go

Acronis Backup & Recovery 11.5 is an integrated platform for all tasks in the field of data management and disaster recovery across physical, virtual and cloud environments. This is done by a central management console as briefly discussed before. The platform Acronis makes a drastic reduction in management overhead and total cost of ownership possible by offering management capabilities for Windows and Linux and all major hypervisors, such as Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, VMware vSphere, Windows Hyper-V, Citrix and Parallels. The platform can also be integrated with an installation capacity in the Acronis Cloud.

Backup-as-a-Service enables Acronis to change the way in which they provide backup services to their customers. By leveraging an in-house BaaS infrastructure, Acronis can provide uniform data backup capabilities and also offer differentiated offerings across their customer base. Here again, I  had the pleasure to perform a test drive. Configuring this setup was as easy as install the Application. Of course this involved a single system and not an entire infrastructure that may have a more complex configuration. Assuming you need more systems backups in the Cloud, they provide you a cool wizard which give you a good indication what the costs are. The Acronis Backup Solution Wizard will help you compile an order depending on the IT-infrastructure of your company and additional needs for simplified management of backups.

Returning to my test drive. As I mentioned it was easy to set this up. Image backup, or snapshot, of entire system in a few clicks. Again True! Another matter what pop-ups is data security. According Acronis data is hosted at highly secure datacenters and split across multiple servers -similar to RAID- with additional software protection. You can encrypt sensitive data using government grade 256-bit AES before uploading to the Internet. But backup is one, recovery is a total different thing. 

What happens when a system’s hardware fails or needs to be retired? How do you move the valuable applications and data to a new system or hardware after disaster strikes? How do you quickly restore a system after the hardware has changed? Acronis solves these common issues with Acronis Universal Restore, a fully integrated module that restores servers or workstations to different hardware or to a virtual machine, providing highly flexible disaster recovery and migration options.

My experience so far is that Acronis has done a great job with Acronis Backup & Recovery 11.5. Their Cloud solution is spectacular and easy. Of course this is how it should be. One disadvantage where many service providers suffer from is speed!!! This become a real pain in the A.. when there are dependencies beyond your reach. Again, one system will do the trick. Many... I guess not? Arcronis comes up with Initial Seeding. 

Initial Seeding is an optional service for customers who want to back up large amounts of data online. If the size of your first full backup is larger than 10GB and if your available internet bandwidth is less than 1Mbit/sec, then they recommend using the Initial Seeding service to upload your first backup to Acronis Online Backup Storage. By using Initial Seeding, you can write your first backup on a removable hard drive and then ship it to the datacenter. Do it this way gives me a bit of the jitters. But that's why I'm also fairly a defeatist in this matter. The other less good news is, Initial Seeding requires a separate license. Precisely the enterprise market should be interesting. Why this should be additional licensed is a choice that might be reconsidered.

 

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About the Author

Roy Mikes

Roy Mikes

Roy Mikes has developed a deep knowledge of virtualization, storage and Cloud in a broad perspective over the past 15 years, but also streamlines his focus on VMware and EMC Technology. Because of that knowledge and focus, Roy works as a Cloud and Storage Technologist Specialist, Data Center Architect Specialist and VMware Certified Professional.

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