Arcserve UDP review

Arcserve's UDP is its biggest release ever and takes backup to the next level

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£373
  • Easy deployment, Unified console, RPS, Global deduplication, Virtual Standby
  • Tape staging requires arcserve Backup

Arcserve UDP (Unified Data Protection) aims to provide a one-stop shop for backing up all your physical and virtual environments. In its biggest release for 15 years, Arcerve claims this is the first product to combine backup, replication, high availability and global deduplication as standard.

Firstly, we should clear up any misconceptions about Arcserve UDP. This is the next generation of the D2D product and not a replacement for Arcserve Backup. 

We discussed this at length with Arcserve and it advised us it is fully committed to further development of Arcserve Backup with a planned release of r17 later this year. The company will eventually amalgamate all its backup solutions together but not for at least a couple of years. 

Arcserve recommends that businesses requiring image based backup to disk should use Arcserve UDP whilst those with tape as a primary backup stage should continue to use Arcserve Backup.

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You can use tape staging with Arcserve UDP but you will need to install the free copy of Arcserve Backup that is included so it can access its tape engine.

All backup and restore tasks for the entire network can be managed from one console

Deployment and RPS

Installation is swift and we had Arcserve UDP loaded on a Windows Server 2012 R2 system in a few minutes. The new web console is well designed and provides a quick start wizard for adding protected nodes, defining backup destinations and creating backup plans.

A fundamental feature of Arcserve UDP is its recovery point server (RPS). This defines a central location where data is backed up to and provides deduplication and replication services.

The RPS can contain multiple data stores where each performs global deduplication and has its own data block location, hash database and index. The database can be located on a different volume to the block store while hash index operations can be accelerated by running this in RAM or on an SSD.

An RPS can be replicated to another using a special backup task that defines a local and remote RPS and a schedule. The JumpStart feature handles remote RPS seeding where you create a temporary data store on external media, replicate data to it and import it into the remote RPS.

The RPS provides backup data stores, replication and global deduplication features

Backup Plans

You can add nodes manually, discover them from Active Directory or import them from a file. You can then push the UDP agent to them for backup and bare metal recovery with the Advanced version of Arcserve UDP including plug-ins for SQL Server and Exchange.

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Adding virtual machines is even easier and we used the import option to browse our Hyper-V and VMware hosts and add selected VMs. This doesn't require any agents but the VM must be running for the pre-flight check and backups to work.

Next, you create backup plans which contain selected nodes, a destination, the number of recovery points required and a schedule. Instead of an RPS, you can use a local disk or shared folder as a destination but deduplication won't be available.

Arcserve's infinite incremental strategy runs a full backup followed by incrementals which only copy changed blocks. You can also set the plan schedule to run incrementals as often as every 15 minutes.

Add a Virtual Standby task to a backup plan and it'll create a VM of the node primed and ready for action

Virtual Standby and Granular Restore

One smart feature is virtual standby which uses recovery points to create a VM of a node. It keeps the VM up to date with the latest data and if the node goes down, arcserve UDP can automatically fire the VM up for you.

This is easy to use as you add a virtual standby task to a backup plan and provide the credentials of your Hyper-V or VMware host. We used it in a backup plan for a VM running on a Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V host and watched the job create a standby VM for us without any intervention. 

You can remotely view the host agent and choose to restore files, folders, VMs or Exchange data stores

For agent-based backup, Arcserve UDP performs deduplication locally at the source and globally on the RPS data store. We tested this by backing up a 95GB Windows 8.1 client and saw deduplication and compression reduce this down to only 38.2GB on the RPS.

We also tested the granular restore feature by backing up our Exchange 2007 system with the catalogue option enabled in our plan. The restore option in the main console loaded the agent interface for the host where we could browse our Exchange users and select individual emails.

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Conclusion

Value looks good as CA offers four versions of Arcserve UDP with licensing based on physical CPU sockets or per TB of data to be backed up. The Standard version starts at 373 for a single socket license and you'll need a license for the sockets on each Windows and Linux host being protected.

During testing we found Arcserve UDP simple to deploy while the unified management console made it very easy for us to configure and monitor backups. Its integral source and global deduplication plus virtual standby really make it stand out from the crowd as well - image based backup and recovery doesn't get much smarter than this.

Verdict

A slick image based backup product ideally suited to protecting physical and virtual environments. The RPS provides global deduplication as standard, recovery options are extensive and everything can be managed easily from a single console.

UDP server and console: Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (x64) upwards; Agent: Windows Vista and Server 2003 SP1 upwards, Red Hat Enterprise, CentOS. Oracle and SUSE Linux

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