Veritas Makes Backup Boo-Boo

Forced to update Backup Exec 9.0 after discovering it's incompatible with Windows Server 2003

June 12, 2003

3 Min Read
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When Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS) launched Backup Exec 9.0 this January, it boasted that the software was the first backup software package with integrated support for the new storage-specific features in Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows Server 2003, which at the time was still in beta (see Veritas Backs Into Exchange and Veritas Lifts Lid on Backup Exec 9).

Then, when Microsoft shipped Windows Server 2003 in April, Veritas claimed Backup Exec had completed Microsoft's "rigorous certification" for the operating system (see Veritas Down With Win 2003).

But as it happens, the Veritas software didn't actually work with the final version of Windows Server 2003. Oooooooops!

Late last month, Veritas was forced to issue a new "build" of Backup Exec 9.0 for Windows because the original version it shipped wasn't compatible with a key feature of Windows Server 2003. That snafu is now requiring customers with the older software to download -- and reinstall -- a 600-Mbyte updated version of the application.

What happened? The issue, according to Veritas, has to do with the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), a feature built into Windows 20003 that provides the ability to make point-in-time copies of single or multiple volumes (see Windows Soaks Up Storage). Veritas says it developed Backup Exec 9.0 to work with release candidate 2 of Windows 2003 but that Microsoft made some last-minute changes to VSS that caused it to become incompatible with Backup Exec.The problem is described in this technical support note, dated May 27, on Veritas's Website.

According to the note, "While Backup Exec 9.0 for Windows Servers revision 4367 will seem to install and operate normally on Microsoft Windows 2003 servers, the incompatibility with certain VSS operations will require the installation of an updated version of Backup Exec 9.0 for Windows Servers to fully protect the Windows 2003 operating system."

A Veritas spokesman now claims the company knew all along that it would have to issue an update to Backup Exec after the official release of Windows 2003.

"We had already planned to release a build of Backup Exec after Windows 2003 because of the integration with VSS," he says. But if that's true, then Veritas neglected to inform customers about this crucial piece of information beforehand.

Veritas says downloading the updated version of Backup Exec is no big deal -- in fact, an update feature built into the program automatically handles the process. As for the fact that 600 Mbytes is a rather hefty chunk of data, the Veritas spokesman says, "Most enterprises are connected via high-speed networks."But Backup Exec is aimed at small and midsized companies, which may not necessarily have broadband Internet connections. NetBackup is Veritas's higher-end package for larger enterprise customers.

The Veritas spokesman says he doesn't know how many customers have been adversely affected by the incompatible version of Backup Exec, but says the impact (so far) has been limited to "isolated incidents."

Veritas's competitors, meanwhile, are gleeful over its stumble.

"Service packs and patches do not cut the mustard," says David Liff, VP of BrightStor Solutions at Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) (NYSE: CA). He claims CA's ARCserve Backup 9, which started shipping in October 2002, is fully compatible with Windows Server 2003 (see CA Ships ARCserve 9).

Well, not exactly. In mid-May, CA issued a Version 9.01 update to ARCserve Backup for Windows, which it described as "a continuation of our support for the Windows .Net version to support the final RTM/GA version of Windows Server 2003." Among other things, the update is required to support VSS on Windows Server 2003.Memo to CA: Those who sell to glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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