“Configlogo_simloguring Bacula is great, because it helps you make decisions on how you want to protect your data. It presents you with options that make you think ‘Yes that would be a nice thing to do within our backup strategy’

Paul McKenzie, Vice-President, Simlog Inc.

 

The Challenge
Simlog had critical data and files in various departments across the company that had to be backed up and protected. With different computers used for many different purposes, Simlog needed a backup and data recovery solution that was highly configurable for each individual workstation and server within the company. “We wanted a two-level system, where everything is backed up twice” said Paul McKenzie, Vice-President, Simlog Inc. The behavior of users, in how their data is created and saved, is different in the various departments across our company. For example, the Marketing and Sales department has its customer data and CRM data, and stores files in different places and ways, compared to the design department for instance. We have a source repository, but there are also other important design documents and many files that deal with development issues that are stored in different places. We needed one solution that could back up, manage, monitor, and restore these disparate and different types of data, across both physical and virtual environments.”

Paul added: “we knew we needed something that was very configurable – and possible to interact with in scriptable form. We did not want to be constrained by a complicated user interface, because we needed the flexibility to edit files, move them around, manage and save them, and more. So our backup and restore solution needed to have a very good command line interface.”

The Solution
Simlog evaluated a number of backup solutions -but they were all very Windows focused. “We evaluated both commercial and open source solutions, but there was no cross platform solution we liked apart from Bacula. If we were to do the analysis again, and re-evaluate again today, we would still choose Bacula Enterprise Edition.”

“Above all, we needed something that was easily configurable for each individual machine.  This was easily done with Bacula, especially because its architecture means that each user has his or her own client. You can specify which files need protecting on which specific machine. We originally used Bacula Community version, but when we needed more functionality, we moved to Bacula Enterprise Edition” said Paul. “First, I did the Bacula Admin training course, which got me really focused, we then did the main implementation in no more than a week. We started with just a few test machines, got them up and running, and took it from there. Installation of Bacula Enterprise Edition is straightforward, the real effort for us was in the ‘What exactly do you want to do with Bacula?’ Configuring Bacula is great, because it helps you make decisions on how you want to protect your data. It presents you with options that make you think ‘Yes – that would be a nice thing to do within our backup strategy’, or: ‘Here’s something I should be considering in my backup plan’. We are all from a programming background, and so we really like the way Bacula presents the choice to be programmed, if that’s the way you want to do it. It was written so that programmers can really exploit its capabilities.

The Results
“We love Bacula’s ability to seamlessly handle different storage media and its ability to handle very complicated schedules. It backs up copies of previous backups, can handle incremental and differential backups, and the level of control it gives us means we can really maximize backup times and disk space. We use Bacula to see exactly what kind of data it is that we have, then we decide what kind of backup strategy we want to apply to it, for example, how long do we want to maintain the data? Bacula’s tools help us to decide the best duration to maintain the data, how to maximize our backup window, and where we want to get more backup coverage by efficiently using disks. We backup every day.”

“Certainly, the speed of data recovery is one of the main values we see, and translates into significant cost savings for us. With Bacula, you back up your data exactly the way you want. What we like about it is that you do not have to restore an entire disk if you do not wish to. We are able to easily restore specific files and folders.

The Sales and Marketing department perhaps lose things the most often, so they come and see us to help them find and restore their files. Now, with Bacula Enterprise Edition, we can do that rapidly, and the minimal disruption is very valuable to us. Single File restore is probably our most common kind of data restore, our Sales people especially benefit from it.”

“Once, a number of years ago, we had a fire on one of the upper floors in the building, and we got water coming down. One of the servers got wet and had to be replaced. We had tape backups at the time, so we were able to completely restore that server without any problems – and quickly, too.

“Even we scripters, when we want to do something quick, having access to a good GUI can be very useful… so having the option of using either GUI or command line controls – or both together in combination – is really nice and productive. Even though I normally like to work with a command line interface, I have been pleasantly surprised by the power and flexibility of BWeb (Bacula Enterprise’s GUI management software). I may start to use it more often!” says Paul. “Using BWeb, the data restore process is really fast, and easy to use.”

“Sometimes we randomly pick files simply for test purposes, to make sure we can always restore files. So then it’s easy to say: ‘Let’s do a test restore from this machine’. I find the reporting and monitoring tools on BWeb very informative. People think backup and restore is all you need, but they often underestimate the monitoring and reporting side of things. For example, the non-IT people who need to budget for infrastructure – executives and managers – they need to get an overview, or summary of what’s going on, or they may need to know how much data you are backing up, and for how long.  The reporting and monitoring side of things is really crucial, and Bacula provides advanced tools to make that as easy as possible.”

“It’s not just the software we like: Bacula Systems’ support services are very good, too. I was lucky enough to meet my main Bacula Systems support person at a training session. He is very quick to respond and very knowledgeable about backup in general and Bacula. Simply put: Bacula makes sure we do not lose any files. It just runs by itself.”

About Simlog:
Simlog was founded in 1999 to commercialize training simulation technology developed at CRIM, one of Canada’s leading research institutes in information technologies. Since then, Simlog has been pioneering a new kind of simulator product called Personal Simulator that leverages the power of off-the-shelf (Windows) PCs. Today, Simlog is the world-wide standard in cost-effective simulation, with a growing number of customers and Value Added Resellers in 64 countries around the world having trained half a million people.