What on earth is that I hear you say! To many this is just some strangely named product, and you’d be right. It started life as a freeware product and is still freely available to those that want it.

However, here at Claremont we needed to find a product that could meet our ever increasing and fluid needs of our customer base, but also our own internal requirements for our server and cloud based systems.

Backups are an extremely important backbone of any IT organisation and more so for a managed service provider. For us, we needed a product that was robust, mutli-platform and non-propriety. Finding something that meets these requirements and one that doesn’t cost the earth, is difficult. It can become a task of attrition very quickly.

Thankfully we discovered Bacula and to our surprise it is being used by such organisations as NASA, SKY and a host of large organisations across the world.

So, what is Bacula? Well, in a nutshell it’s a set of computer programs that permits the system administrator to manage backup, recovery, and verification of computer data across a network of computers of different kinds. Bacula can also run entirely upon a single computer and can backup to various types of media, including tape, disk, autochangers, USB, NAS and SAN devices.

In technical terms, it is a network Client/Server based backup program. Bacula is relatively easy to use and it’s efficient, while offering many advanced storage management features that make it easy to find and recover lost or damaged files. Due to its modular design, Bacula is scalable from small single computer systems to systems consisting of hundreds of computers located over a large network.

Bacula High Level Architecture

The diagram below shows the main components that have been designed as modules.

While the product is freely available from freeware sites, there is a company called Bacula.org that provides product support and moreover have developed a WEB front end, which makes the management and deployment of the software significantly easier.

We felt it was important to have 3rd party support for such a critical part of our managed services, so we decided to use Bacula.org as our support provider.

We purchased the BWEB front end, which comes complete with the latest Bacula version and a “postgres” database. The installation of this was very straight forward and significantly easier than using and building the “freeware” versions available on the internet.

The BWEB front end is a feature rich addition to the Bacula software and well worth the investment. It provides “admin and user” level logins, thereby allowing users to see their backup status if required.

The console has a clean and uncluttered appearance, thereby making it easy to use and understand.

Initial Impressions of Bacula

Its early days, but we are currently managing several of our customers backups, including some of our own internal systems and we have had no issues to date.
We get daily backup reports from the system automatically via email and it has the ability to be configured to alert via different mechanisms.

Graphs and statistics are readily available for all the backups and of course it is capable of doing all of the normal types of backups including Full, incremental, differentials etc. It can also do “bare metal” backups if required.

The creation and deployment of clients is straight forward and quick. Once completed, backup jobs can be controlled via Bacula on the client, thereby removing the need to use “schedules/cron jobs” on the client machine, again removing another layer of complexity.
Support from Bacula.org has been exceptional, in most cases support calls have been resolved within a few hours and in one case, was resolved in less than 30 mins. On another occasion a bug was discovered, a patch and fix was released within 2 days and incorporated into the next release.

Overall Bacula does exactly what it says on the tin, and in a simple and straight forward way.

If you’re in need of an effective backup solution that doesn’t cost the earth, then Bacula could be the option for you.

Dave Whattam

Senior DBA

Dave is responsible for numerous database systems across Claremont’s client base. With over 30 years experience, Dave is a hands on technical expert, ensuring the successful and timely delivery of projects.