I think white boxes often overlooked as a solution, especially for end user machines. I think your note about having the appropriate internal knowledge was right on target, might not be the right solution for a business where the receptionist doubles as the network admin. Im sure some will disagree, but computers are just expensive toasters now. When it breaks, buy a new one!
Kudos for building a strategy and executing it successfully (and for writing it up).
Well thought out, well written, concise and to the point. I enjoyed and learned from this article. I can usually say only one or the other about technical articles I read.
From punch cards to CDP in one career - quite a journey!
Carter (also in the Atlanta area)
For FTP (as in the entire process) - nothing fancy.
I use WS_FTP Pro from IPSwitch, it is installed on a whitebox PC (low end) with an hourly schedule. It does a diff on the files that are the current weeks backup folder (which is the base images and the hourly incrementals). The incrementals and base images have different file extension, so it downloads only the incrementals. The offsite uses a cable modem which has 8.5MB (theoretical ) downstream - which is more than my internal bandwidth in total, so I throttle that down a bit on the FTP server. The incrementals are password protected and encrypted, but without the base image they are useless. SQL transaction logs do contain easy to read data, so I would recommend some form of encryption. I use a freeware Blowfish utility - there are plenty of options in the public domain.
Since the weekly incremental images are 'included' in the weekend base image, the start of each week the offsite deletes the prior week incrementals and starts anew.
An interesting article, but for the prejudice against name-brand servers.
While I appreciate that technical experience can make a 'white-box' solution more palatable, you run a huge risk of discovering that Microsoft won't talk to you about your Windows bug because you're not running hardware on their HCL. We were warned about that in MCSE classes, but I never took it seriously until the first (only!) time it happened to me. It's great to save 20% on a server, but if that means you're on your own re-building an Exchange database, well... I'd rather spend my weekends with my family than in the server room, surfing web forums.
That, added to the prospect of risking your enterprise on Symantec... He has faith in different companies than I do, I guess. I just spent about 20 minutes on the Symantec website looking for v2i. While I can find press releases from 2003 and technical bulletins discussing it, either they don't sell it anymore, or they really don't want you to buy it.
I've never had an issue with MS Support based upon any whitebox solution. Actually, I've never had them query the hardware components when I've called them for support. Still, your point is well taken and something to consider.
As for 'risking your enterprise on Symantec' - like many large companies, Symantec did not originally create any of the products that we use, they simply acquired them. I am not a fan of Symantec, but I have tested (and will continue to test/verify) all components of our disaster recovery plan - regardless of the vendor. Don't knock something you have not tried simply because of the logo currently stuck to the box.
Bob - other than the performance issues, the only one that comes to mind is security/authentication. If the offsite box is connected via VPN and a member server of the same or trusted domain, then it sounds technically feasible. (I do not use SQL Replication, so I am not familiar with any idiosyncrasies it may have) Test the inevitable disconnect/reauthenticate scenarios as well as power loss, so that you are not faced with making trips to resolve issues - that along with remote access to the device (UltraVNC, GotoMyPC, etc). That is how I manage our remote FTP backup machine.