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The NetBackup Master Server is considered the central nervous system of the Symantec suite. Can you virtualize such a core element?
The NetBackup Master Server is part of the Symantec Corporation's NetBackup suite, used by small and medium-sized businesses for backup and recovery. In a generic NetBackup data center deployment, the Master Server lives in a predetermined portion of the network, and communicates with various NetBackup clients throughout the network. The master server contains various databases for existing backups and NetBackup configurations. Many times these configurations point to media servers, which contain the actual backups.
Often, the master server is on a physical machine as opposed to a virtual machine (VM). It is not because the master server is incapable of being virtualized; in fact, the vendor agrees it can be done.
Some organizations are hesitant to virtualize their master server due to support. Issues may arise during a virtualized master server deployment that aren't supported by Symantec. For example, performance may degrade when operating within a VM. So, if the master server must engage in CPU-intensive operations, then virtualization may present a problem, depending on the allocated resources.
Unexpected hardware and driver issues may arise during a virtualized deployment that are also not supported by Symantec.
Lastly, using hypervisor services, such as suspending or resuming the VM, or another disruptive action, is not supported by Symantec. The effect of these virtualization features on data is unknown.
NetBackup Master Server virtualization is possible, and in some cases preferable. To determine whether or not a virtualized Master Server is the right fit for your organization, assess the organization's acceptable risk level with regard to the listed concerns.
About the author:
Brad Casey is an expert on network security with experience in penetration testing, public key infrastructure, VoIP and network packet analysis. He also covers system administration, Active Directory and Windows Server 2008, with interest in Linux virtualization and Wireshark captures. He spent five years in security assessment testing for the U.S. Air Force.