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I start a new job on Monday at the same company that outsourced me two months ago. Our entire server, storage, and backup infrastructure was outsourced in July and my team that managed it was part of the package. Most of my co-workers had left after the company’s intent was known, and not one position was ever back filled. I didn’t want anything to do with the outsourcing and my goal was to be gone by the time they planned to transition control to this third party.

The company had cooked the books when they were trying to sell the outsourcing model. They couldn’t come close to our comparatively inexpensive internally managed costs, so on paper they tripled our head count and removed the support renewal costs on storage arrays, backup libraries, and vmware. That’s how bad they wanted this to work, or should I say, that’s how bad the the CIO wanted this to work and everyone else was just trying to make him happy.

One of the problems with this cost cutting was that the outsourcer would not take over the management and support for anything that was not presently under warranty or had some type of hardware maintenance agreement already in place. Add this stress on to the fact that the few of us remaining were being leaned on incredibly hard for knowledge transfer meetings and being incessantly awoken in the middle of the night dealing with on call issues. I was done with it all, but luckily before I walked, I was offered a position on the database team to manage their DR and development environment.

The first hurdle I’ll have on this team is back ups. The backup server and library that was being used is now in the hands of the outsourcer, so I’ll have to find a new solution for both file level, SQL, and RMAN backups. This is what brought me over to the Zmanda website to investigate this software. We have an old EMC Clariion CX700 that we’re retiring that would be a great place to store data, but we still need a program to get it there.

Since there’s often little budget left over for development environments, I’m stuck with trying to backup data on the cheap, so open source is my friend. I also don’t want a product that will take months to learn how to operate, so I was particularly intrigued by the 15 minute challenge. Zmanda offers a community edition for file level backups and SQL backups with something called Recovery Manager. I also found an Oracle agent for RMAN backups, but unfortunately that appears to only be available for Amanda Enterprise and not free.

The annual subscription for a backup server is only $400, but then there’s individual client licenses at $300 a pop. That wouldn’t be bad if I could run everything else under the free community edition, but I don’t know if that means I will need two separate backup servers/environments. I’ll have to start researching the site wiki and/or posting in the forums to investigate my options.

While there seems to be a few other options for open source backup, none of them seem to be as developed and documented as the Zmanda platform. I’m going to give the community edition a try for Windows and Linux file level backups at a bare minimum, so I’ll see how that goes first and then contemplate if it’s worth continuing to invest in the platform. I’ll try and report back on how things go.

As always, if anyone has experience with this software or a better one that will do the same thing, please feel free to share what you know.

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