Bare Metal Recovery

I recently received a comment on my demontration on W2K3 Rocovery using EMC Legato Networker. The question raised was does Legato support true bare metal recovery (BMR) for both Windows and UNIX – this implies that a system can be restored without actually reinstalling a basic operating system as I demonstrate in the video tutorial. This is a multi-part answer and I will do my best to answer each question, provide some insight and make some recommendations. For Windows 2003 and XP Microsoft and EMC Networker support something called an Automated System Recovery (ASR). Unfortunately this is the supported BMR process for EMC Networker on Windows. IMO this is not a production viable bare metal recovery process due to the need to use a floppy – this is contrary to Microsoft’s opinion… floppies? What are they thinking? For UNIX there is not a supported Networker BMR process. The process of installing a base OS and the Networker client then initiating a full system restore actually works better on UNIX then it does on Windows. Most Unix distributions have rich support for network OS boot and installation (i.e. – PXE boot, Solaris JumpStart, etc…), for this reason I do not see many UNIX environments investing in BMR technologies, with that said if BMR is a concern for a heterogeneous UNIX and Windows I would recommend investigating a products such as EMC Homebase or Unitrends (assuming you are looking for commercial products – there are good OpenSource alternatives which I will touch on later in the post). In an all Windows environment the options dramatically increase. EMC recently acquired a company called Indigo Stone and a product called HomeBase to facilitate true BMR. There are a number of other products in the market, personally I have used Acronis True Image, Unitrends, Ghost and a few others. Depending on your goal all of these products have pluses and minuses. The problems with traditional BMR products are usually HAL related. I have not consistently moved to disparate hardware platforms with BMR. BMR products attempt to alter the HAL to make a W2K3 image taken from a AMD box with 4 GB of RAM which can be restored on an Intel box with 8 GB of RAM. While BMR has improved tremendously over the years, IMO it is far from perfect. Many organizations looking for a quick recovery method in the event of a host failure are looking at virtualization technology. A process called P2V (physical-to-virtual) can be performed to create virtual images of physical servers. These virtual images abstract the physical hardware and are highly portable and easy to maintain. My personal preference for facilitating this process is a product

called PlateSpin PowerConvert with this said I am also investigating how HomeBase would facilitate this process. If you just need an image backup of a system to speed time to recovery without the need for hardware independence I would look at a couple of OpenSource options. The Personal Backup Appliance is a virtual appliance that will get you imaging your systems as quickly as possible. I have also used Partition Image for Linux successfully. If you are looking for other options you can find a comprehensive list here . Hope this post was helpful, I did not want to bury it as a comment.

One thought on “Bare Metal Recovery

  1. Another product which has overcome the HAL problem for P2P using unlike hardware for x86 and also covering the major UNIX flavors(SPARC, PARISC and POWERPC)is our product DynaCenter. Some applications are simply not candidates for VMs or partitions. Recovering failed servers can be accomplished by using the backed up image to boot over the network, recovering the server and returning the application to production in a fraction of the time of the mentioned BMR products. More information can be found at

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