Atempo's Time Navigator 4.0, Enterprise Edition

This data backup system offers multiplatform support and a great deal of granularity for file selection. But will it steer your budget off course?

April 8, 2005

4 Min Read
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• Modular design; you pay only for what you need• Outstanding multiplatform support• Extremely scalable


• Full-file incremental backups require more storage space than block- or byte-level backups

Time Navigator 4.0 Enterprise Edition, starts at $6,350 for one Time Navigator Windows Server, 10 agents, one tape drive and the Exchange Server module. Atempo, (866) 417-0200, (650) 494-2600.

The Time Navigator server provides the nexus for data management and stores a catalog of attached system agent configurations, object indexes and storage device listings. The administrative console, which could be configured to run from a remote desktop and monitored over the Web, gave me complete, centralized control over all attached devices and agents. From the server, I installed on my second system a storage node, which included the Time Navigator agent, support for the Sony AIT-4 tape drive and a required 110 MB of disk space. I then configured the tape drive from the admin console and built a cartridge pool to manage tape identification and specify utilization policies for the on-deck tapes. Atempo uses a similar model for all storage devices, so it was easy to designate disk space on the server for use as disk-to-disk storage, a strategy that translates well across multiple types of devices in hierarchical storage environments.

Next, I created a backup "strategy" that involved designating my storage media of choice and establishing timing for full and incremental backups. Atempo uses file-level sampling for incremental backups; though this eats up more storage space for backup data, it requires less processing overhead than block- or byte-level sampling. I designated a simple full/incremental backup, with the server writing to the Sony AIT-4 drive on the storage node and the storage node writing to the disk volume created on the server.Backup strategy in place, I launched a Time Navigator agent on each of the machines from within the admin console and specified a "class," or group of folders and/or files, to be backed up. The user interface is simple, displaying the file tree with a time-reference function that let me scroll back through time to select and back up or restore data from a specific point in history.

Time Navigator provides a great deal of granularity for file selection. I could include or exclude files based on type, size, modification date, access date or last backup. Combined with the ability to choose multiple backup strategies, this setup let me easily design complex policies to cover a wide range of backup, archiving and compliance requirements.

Proof in the Backup

My full backups executed flawlessly, and after making the first incremental backups, I scrolled back in time to see changes to the file tree in the user interface. Restoration was a simple matter of selecting files I deleted for the test and requesting a restoration, which also executed flawlessly. I could restore previous iterations of existing files to another location, a lifesaver for those who accidentally overwrite data. I also could create a synthetic full backup, which merges the last full backup with data from any incremental backups made back to any time.

Admin ConsoleClick to Enlarge

Backup data is stored in a compressed, proprietary TiNa format by default, or generic SIDF, cpio and tar formats. Data can be encrypted at agent-level using 128-bit Blowfish by default; Atempo can customize higher-level encryption to suit your needs. All operations are controlled by a single server, and all communications between the server and agents are relegated to dedicated TCP and UDP ports.

Atempo offers live application-backup services for DB2, Informix, Microsoft SQL, NCR Teradata, Oracle, SAP and Sybase databases, as well as Lotus Domino, Exchange and SharePoint Portal servers. Native device support is available for a number of NAS and SAN platforms and NDMP-compliant data and tape servers, and the company offers drivers for dozens of proprietary tape libraries and magneto-optical devices.

Time Navigator 4.0 is platform-agnostic; the server and storage nodes run on Windows Server 2000/2003; IBM AIX; Hewlett-Packard Tru64, HP-UX; Linux, Mac OS X; SGI Irix/Altix; and Sun Solaris. In addition, client agents are available for Windows XP, VMS, NEC HPC, FreeBSD and SCO Open Server, as well as a large number of clustered environments.

Steven Hill owns and operates ToneCurve Technology, a digital imaging consulting company. Write to him at [email protected].

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