Arkeia 5.2 Network Backup

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The design shows careful thought about what a backup manager needs.

We haven't checked on Arkeia since April 1999 (/article/3166), so we thought we'd take another look and see how this software is coming along.

Features

Arkeia Network Backup is a heterogeneous network client/server backup solution using a Linux or UNIX backup server. Client system backup software is available for Linux, as well as a variety of UNIX and UNIX-like OSes, including Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows 98, ME, NT, 2003 and XP.

Plugins are available for hot backup of applications including Oracle, Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, IBM DB2 and MySQL.

Supported backup media include popular SCSI tape drives, libraries and autoloaders.

Arkeia Disaster Recovery, a separate product not reviewed here, provides bare-metal recovery for backed-up Linux clients and servers. Both Network Backup and Disaster Recovery are available for free 30-day demos. A third product, Arkeia Lite, suitable for backing up one Linux server and two desktop systems, is available at no charge.

We reviewed Arkeia 5.2.7 Network Backup, downloaded from www.arkeia.com, along with PDF documentation. The Linux version supports Debian GNU/Linux 2.2 and 3.0, Mandrake 7.2–9.2, Red Hat 6.0–9.0, Slackware 8.0 and SuSE 7.1–9.0.

Installation

The documentation, downloaded as a PDF, had about 500 pages of material, enough to be a little intimidating. The shortest document was the Quick Start Guide. I began there.

My bench system's distribution of the day was Debian 3.0. The Debian installation for Arkeia came as a .tar.gz file, not as a Debian package. I unpacked this, cd'd to the top-level directory and then ran install, accepting all defaults.

Next I started xarkeia. Its futuristic design, as shown in Figure 1, takes some getting used to.

Figure 1. Option screen from the Savepacks Menu showing icons, in the bar above advanced options, for navigating back up to the root menu.

Continuing with the Guide's instructions, I set a password for the Arkeia root user and configured and ran a dummy backup. As long as I followed the directions carefully, all went as indicated. At one point I did something out of sequence, attempting to start a backup prior to configuring any tapes. The backup stalled, and I was unable to configure tapes or to abort the backup using the GUI or anything else I knew to do at the time. A note on the support Web site elicited an e-mail response within a half hour, telling me to stop and restart a dæmon. I was then able to proceed. The dummy backup ran without further incident, and initial installation was complete. Arkeia was ready to configure real backups.

Architecture

Arkeia organizes things using a database where the administrator sets up:

  • Tape drives.

  • Drivepacks: groups of similar tape drives.

  • Tapes: each with its own label and history information.

  • Tape pools: groups of similar tapes.

  • Savepacks: groups of files and directories backed up together.

  • Backups: a backup uses one drivepack to store one savepack in tapes from one tape pool.

  • Users: a variety of user roles are available, allowing the work of managing backups at a large site to be delegated.

  • Servers: one installation may extend across multiple backup servers.

  • Clients: multiple client systems are accommodated per server.

Backups are controlled and scheduled from the backup server. Backups can be manual or automatic, called Periodic by Arkeia. They also can be complete or incremental, an arrangement by which files that have not changed since a baseline are not backed up. Incremental backups are scheduled in a multilevel fashion, with the baseline for a given level being the previous lower-level backup. Backup level is the same for all files in a given periodic backup.

You can schedule any backup to put multiple backups on one tape, filling the tape, or you can start a new tape.

A savepack contains items to be backed up, such as files, databases and directories. One savepack can contain items from multiple hosts. An item can be backed up using a plugin, such as the one for MySQL.

Libraries, stackers and so on have special management interfaces under Arkeia but are configured as sets of drives enrolled in drivepacks. From the point of view of managing a backup itself within Arkeia, there's not much difference between a library and any other collection of drives.

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