Symantec’s GRT = not so GReaT for Exchange

The tech industry is filled with “analysts” who will receive a buck and write exactly what a vendors asks of them.

In this installment, Symantec went to the “Tolly Group” and got them to blast EMC’s Networker for being slower than Symantec’s new feature for backing up and extracting single mail items, called GRT for short.   In their graphical depictions, they show how apples compare to watermelons.

It leaves one to wonder how much Symantec spent on that piece of marketing, and time will tell if users believe those claims. 

While Symantec offers what appears to be an interesting way to do a full backup and a brick level backup in one step,  this approach is unsupported by Microsoft.  Hmmmm, support is pretty important when you are talking about backups of a mission critical application, yes?

EMC and the Networker team do not recommend brick level backups, which are long, painful, direct MAPI scans and pulls.  Instead, they recommend using the Recovery Storage Group, as the Microsoft supported and recommended way to achieve single item restores with newer versions of Exchange such as Exchange 2007.   The Microsoft Exchange team in general is moving away from streaming backups altogether, so VSS (Volume ShadowCopy Services) and RSG recoveries are really the direction most companies will be taking – and the EMC NetWorker mailbox/message recovery solution does not have any of the long list of limitations offered in the Symantec solution.

And a really, really simple way to handle those quick “I need a piece of email back” requests is to turn up Deleted Items Retention to a larger amount.  This gives the user the ability to find their own mails that may have accidentally deleted without any administrator time lost.

A few last data points worth mentioning:

The Symantec GRT Solution

  • Exchange GRT Recoveries are only is valid for backups to disk folders.
  • Exchange GRT Recoveries are a single, TWO PASS backup. Granular backups/recoveries take longer to allow NetBackup or Backup Exec to index mailbox/public folder information
  • Support for Exchange Full Backup only
  • Microsoft Services for NFS must be installed on the Exchange server

The EMC NetWorker Solution

  • Follows the best practices of the Microsoft Exchange Team for mailbox and message recoveries
  • Allows mailbox and message recoveries from backups made to disk, tape or VTL
  • Supports mailbox and message recoveries from source-based and target deduplication backups
  • Can recover a large Exchange mailbox from the RSG in less than 8 minutes and an Exchange mail message from RSG in less than a minute

4 thoughts on “Symantec’s GRT = not so GReaT for Exchange

  1. Brian Post author

    Sorry if it felt like a sales pitch – sometimes you have to respond to the FUD with facts.

    There are just so many things that are advertised to work a certain way that break under pressure or scale. Or they are advertised to work a certain way, when they don’t.

  2. Don

    I have a lot of experience using GRT with multiple instances of exchange, 2003 and 2007

    When it works, it works great, but it RARELY works properly.. In almost every instance I use backup to tape, not backup to disk like symantec recommends and there are no issues regarding the to-tape variable.. it just takes longer to restore (you need to stage the entire info store to disk before the GRT can do it’s thing)

    On the other hand, i’ve used RSGs on multiple occasions to restore entire info stores, or single mailboxes and it works every time (on the occasions where GRT didn’t work)


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