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Interfacing lab backups and central server backups

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I'm a Unix (Solaris) Sysadmin responsible for the Sun servers in our department. We have several labs that each have a bunch of Macs that they use for collecting data from instruments, scanners, microscopes, etc. We don't have the personnel to take responsibility for backing up all their computers and data.


So, here is what I did. I had each lab buy a large drive (say, a 300G Seagate Cheetah) to put on our Sun server. That becomes their backup drive. I then suggested they buy Retrospect and point it at the backup drive on the server. The idea then is that I can run it out to tape using my installation of amanda on the server with my Sony LIB-162A5.


This turns out to be slightly sub-optimal. I can tweak it and get it better, but I'm still stuck with one lab having quicky filled up their drive with a 288G backup set (the catalog file is separate). And, unfortunately, the drive is on the department server, not on the backup server. So, I have to shoot it across the network again to get it to tape. More tweaking. I can negotiate putting a drive cabinet on the backup server and moving the drives there. Then I have to run Netatalk and set up accounts for the labs on the backup server. OK. I can manage that too.


So here is the final hangup. Suppose they want to recover something from an older backup set, and they have a more recent backup set on their drive. I have to put what is there on tape, delete what is there, recover the older one from tape, then let them do the recover using Retrospect, then delete that old backup set, then either let them start fresh or recover the most recent backup set from tape. At 300G a pop, that's a huge amount of time and effort, even with 100Mb connections.


That leaves me with a couple of remote possibilities. If I could recover individual files directly off tape, then I would be in great shape. That would require either that I be able to run Retrospect and address my AIT5 Library, or that Retrospect give me a directory/file format that is native rather than a single file blob. If it did the second, I could backup the drive using amanda and recover individual files using amanda. In order to do the first, I would have to be able to run Retrospect on Solaris and have it work with the st driver for AIT5. I could get away without the sgen driver for the Library, because I could position it manually before writing a tape.


I know this is a bit over the top for every day Retrospect stuff, but I'm just hoping some of the really sharp folks are still there and can comment on this situation or come up with a suggestion. (I used Retrospect at Laserpoint Software around 1993, and at Specular International from around 1994 to 1997, and am still using it at home).

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