View Full Version : Is amanda right for us?

August 3rd, 2010, 05:45 AM
We are looking for a new backup solution because we are not satisfied with our current (proprietary) solution. Before we go through the work of installing and configuring the system.

Is there a GUI? I could not find any references to on in the Wiki. Source forge has a very old project for one, but they never released any files.

Did I understand correctly, that Amanda uses text files to store the file index data? That seems pretty inefficient to me, particularly since we have 100+ clients and 10s of thousands of files being added to the index every data. It would seem that searching for a particular file would take a while. Can Amanda use an SQL database?

I get the impression that Amanda was intended for more or less "static" environments where the amount of data does not change much. In our business we have spikes so we need to ensure there is enough room on the tapes. The wiki seems to imply that Amanda does a lot of calculations on it own and more or less "guesses" how to optimize the backup.

Further, we have so much data on some many different machines, we need to start the full backup on Sunday morning and runs over 24 hours. The wiki seems to imply that it is "best" not to have backups on specific days, but to let Amanda calculate a backup cycle every X days. If we did that we would end up doing full backups on business days and everything would slow down considerably. I realize there is a workaround to this, but I know of no one who wants the system to assume it is OK to do a full backup up on a business days unless there is absolutely no choice (e.g. the previous full backup failed).

I don't want to insult anyone, but it seems that the "community edition" is simply a means to "lure" people into using Amanda and then have them buy the enterprise addition if they want more than just a simple backup tool. Does anyone else get that feeling?

August 3rd, 2010, 04:30 PM

The GUI (Zmanda Management Console) is part of Amanda Enterprise. Other than that there is no GUI for Amanda.

Amanda Enterprise also uses MySQL for keeping its catalog.

The auto-scheduler of Amanda is written precisely to deal with spikes in workloads. E.g. an incremental backup may not be the most efficient thing for a system tonight because most of it changed in last 24 hours. Amanda will automatically raise the level of backup in such cases.

On the other hand, you can certainly force full backups on weekends which will reduce the probability of Amanda upgrading the level during the weekdays. You can also configure Amanda to not do any upgrading of levels. So, all of this is fully configurable.

Your last comment is somewhat uncalled for. There are many more community users of Amanda than there are customers of Amanda Enterprise. Amanda community is fully functional and advanced network backup software. Of course, Amanda Enterprise adds tons of functionality on top of Amanda Community Edition. But by no means Amanda Community edition is simply a "lure".


August 3rd, 2010, 10:51 PM
Thanks for your response.

What bothers me is that fact that the *default* behaviour is not to trust the administrator. (at least that is what I interpret from the documentation) While the feature might be useful in certain environments, I see it is wrong to have that be the default. Also "efficient" is a relative, if not an arbitrary term. Efficient use of tapes or efficient use of network bandwidth? A sudden spike means the system starts a full backup (for example), which then has a negative impact on the performance of the entire network. Yes, you can "force full backups on weekends", but again, the default should be to do what the admin says and not think "you know better". Perhaps it was simply the illogical explanation in the FAQ.

I certainly did not mean to insult anyone, which is why I said so before I made my comment. As I said we are looking at new tools, only one of which is Amanda. When a "community" product constantly points to the commercial version and claims they can do things better than a "community" version of another product that actually has more features (i.e. Bacula), I get suspicious. Further, you do not need to look very hard to see a large number of products that started out as free and then development on that version was cut down just to patch fixes and upgrades came out a lot slower once a commercial version was making money.

Also, the "Zmanda Contributor License Agreement" requires that you "assign and transfer the copyright of your contribution to Zmanda". This is very suspect. This means anyone who makes improvements on Zmanda products is not entitled to any money that Zmanda makes on that person's work. You cannot honestly believe that if someone adds a substantial improvement or bug fix to the community version, that Zmanda won't add it to the commercial version. They make money and the developer "will also receive a Zmanda shirt". That should make any person suspicious. Making money from a product like Amanda is not the issue, it is how they go about it.

August 4th, 2010, 01:15 PM
(1) Default behavior is meant as a help to the administrators. Most system administrators love this feature of Amanda. One analogy is an automatic car vs. a manual car. An automatic car is construed as a great advance by most car users (even though it my not be the most efficient in some circumstances). Amanda provides best of both worlds: You can start and stay with the automated approach, or you can customize to your own environment.

As far as language in the FAQ, you are certainly welcome to improve it (It is on a public Wiki).

(2) As far as pace of development of Amanda, you should see the commits and releases (http://sourceforge.net/projects/amanda/files/) in recent years. Amanda development (in the open source) has significantly accelerated in last few years.

(3) Developers can continue to contribute using the traditional BSD style license without any copyright assignment (http://wiki.zmanda.com/index.php/Licensing_your_Contribution). As far as the Zmanda Contributor License Agreement - it was modeled after other successful such agreements in the open source.

(4) Of course, an improvement or fix to Amanda will almost certainly become part of Amanda Enterprise (after some QA).

August 4th, 2010, 11:52 PM
Are you a Zmanda employee, by chance? I rarely encounter someone outside of the Microsoft world who is so adamant about a product being so perfect unless they were an employee. Personally, I am very vocal about about my disatisfaction with product I like. If I don't like them, I simply don't use them. Vocalizing my disatisfaction with products I like has resulted in several improvements of multiple products from a major UNIX vendor. If they are willing to listen to criticism, it would be sad if Zmanda is not. It is FATAL in the open source community not to be open, even with negative comments.

1) A *very* good analogy. If driven properly, an manual transmission is far more efficient than an automatic. Also, an automatic can be dangerous as compared to an automatic. Try passing someone on steep slope in an automatic. What if the breaks fail with an automatic? With a manual transmission you have an extra mechanism to slow down. An automatic is for people who cannot figure out how to use a manual transmission, are too lazy to learn, or their needs are very simply. In most countries you have to ask *explicitly* for an automatic. Therefore, it makes sense if you have to *explicitly* configure Amanda to run on automatic. So why doesn't Amanda do what is expected and what other businesses do?

"As far as language in the FAQ, you are certainly welcome to improve it."
That sounds like "Yes, we realize the FAQ sucks, but we aren't going do anything about it." Considering how outdated the Amanda web site is, I guess I should not be surprised.

2) In *most* cases I know of, the commercial company "supporting" the development provides only support and there is no "enterprise" product with features that should be in the "community version". Some also make money with consulting, and in some cases it is really that necessary as their documentation is excellent. Some give you an extended warranty if you purchase a license (i.e. they will fix bugs within a certain time). Some limit the number of agents/clients you can support (e.g. only 200 instead of unlimited). Some have additional features that are based on proprietary 3rd party software and you are actually paying for the 3rd party license. A "watered-down" community version is not the norm. (in my experience)

3) I would be interested to know which ones. Saying "modeled after" is so vague as to be almost worth. For example, Zmanda models it after another license that gives the main developer the right to use the code, but doesn't relinquish any rights. "successfulI" does not always imply"good". The Nazis modelled themselves after the Romans. Both were successful. (perhaps an extreme example, but it demonstrates clearing, copying something successful does not always make it a good thing) I am aware of no product that says "give us all the rights to make money off your improvement and we don't have to give you any". I know of none, but honestly I would be interested to know about. I, for one, don't want to stick my head in the sand.

4) Which confirms by comment that Zmanda can make money of a person's contribution without anything in return. (<sarcasm>Zmanda made mega bucks off my improvement and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.</sarcasm>)

It seems that the Amanda web site is using a lot of old market research to support a belief it has as many users as it (thinks it) does. What I have seen is that it is lost a lot of "market share" to Bacula. Why? Is Bacula so much better? Are there other people who are as concerned with Zmanda's business practices as I am?

Charles Curley
August 6th, 2010, 02:19 PM
The Amanda community -- including Zmanda (although I don't speak for them officially) -- are very much aware of the documentation deficiencies in Amanda. Like any open source software, the code outpaces the documentation. We are open to corrections and to constructive criticism. As zbackup has mentioned, the wiki is public; please join us. I will be working on the documentation, and welcome suggestions.