As mentioned earlier, we recently completed a fairly large Bacula deployment. A number of people have asked me why we did chose Bacula over the more … established names in the backup business.
To be completely honest it was almost coincidental. We negotiated with both IBM, Symantec and CommVault and they all deliver solid data protection products which without a doubt could have solved all our problems and more but they also carry a very hefty price-tag and are not open source.
The majority of our machines run Windows but we also have a large and rather diverse Linux / UNIX environment. Neither IBM, Symantec nor CommVault could accommodate our needs in terms of Linux / UNIX support so we searched for alternatives and found Bacula. We used a few days to build a test setup and started running Bacula alongside our normal backup procedures. This allowed us to test production loads without causing disruptions or potential data loss if we needed to reconfigure stuff while testing.
Once we overcame the initial learning curve it soon became clear to us that Bacula presented us with a very capable data protection platform. The more we thought about it the more we realised that what we really needed was a scalable, reliable and manageable platform for doing file level backups and restores which seemed to be a perfect fit for Bacula. Almost every other piece of software we use in production has some means of doing backups of itself. Some include command line tools, others expose an API. Exploiting those capabilities together with Bacula was a straightforward process.
The turning point for the entire project came when we, almost by accident, discovered that it was possible to buy professional support from the newly formed Bacula Systems. Now we started seriously considering it for our entire datacenter, so we started adding Windows machines to our test portfolio and explored the options for doing proper Windows backup & restore with Bacula.
I have to make it clear that had it not been for Bacula Systems we almost certainly would have chosen another solution. We take absolutely no risks whatsoever when it comes to data protection and running a deployment as large as ours without the proper “life insurance” would have been a very risky business.
We care a great deal about open source software and run a lot of it at work. There are a lot of advantages to open source, it manifests a lot of transparency, provides us with control over our environment and encourages relations between users and developers. Having an open source data protection platform that had proven itself for many years was really intriguing for us.
We ended up saving a lot of money with very little investment. I am not allowed to disclose the actual amount but I can say that compared to the cheapest alternative we saved a 6 digit number of Euros in upfront license investments alone and we are still saving money every year on the support contract.
Some may argue that Bacula cannot be directly compared to some or all of the other products we investigated and you’re probably right — but at the end of the day Bacula solved our particular problem and that’s what matters to us — YMMV.
Next up will be a more detailed description of how we designed our Bacula platform
Part III is now online