Veritas bug killed firm's Win2003 back-up system

software quality Users slam their software suppliers as rising tide of patches and short upgrade cycles hit productivity and...

Users slam their software suppliers as rising tide of patches and short upgrade cycles hit productivity and jeopardise data.

Storage software firm Veritas has had to release a patch for its flagship data back-up software due to a major incompatibility with Windows 2003.

The need for a patch will be an embarrassment for Veritas, the world's fifth-largest software company, which asks users to rely on its products for disaster recovery. It also comes as software suppliers are under mounting pressure to improve software quality and stop releasing products before they are reliable enough for business use.

Users have been plagued by bugs in Veritas Backup Exec 9.0 since its release in January. The company has issued six patches and is about to release a new service pack. On 27 May, it introduced build 4454, a 33Mbyte download, to correct a major incompatibility problem with the VSS (Version Shadow Copy Services) back-up system in Windows 2003.

One user who was involved in the Windows 2003 early access programme ran into serious problems when he tried to replace the previous version 8.6 of Backup Exec running on Windows 2000 with version 9.0 on Windows 2003. "Our installation of version 9.0 failed, leaving us without a back-up facility," he said.

His company had to take emergency measures after finding that it was no longer able to back-up its systems. Since Veritas was not supporting version 9.0 build 4367 on Windows 2003, he had to reconfigure version 8.6 and ran it unsupported on Windows 2003.

"We did not expect incompatibility issues with Windows 2003," the IT director said. "The 4367 build of Veritas Backup Exec 9.0 was so buggy that we were waiting on hold for three and a half hours for technical support."

Along with the update to correct Windows 2003 incompatibilities, Veritas had to issue a number of hot fixes for the 4367 build of Veritas Backup Exec 9.0 prior to the release of build 4454 last month. In one instance, running the Remote Agent for Windows installation with no parameters or incorrect parameters could cause files to be removed from the server's hard disc.

Robin Purohit, vice-president for product management at Veritas, pointed out that Backup Exec 9.0 was the first major release of the product in four years. He said the first patch needed to be issued quickly to deal with a virus in the Microsoft SQL Server engine used by the software. Purohit said part of the incompatibility problem with build 4367 was due to a specification change in Windows 2003 that affected shadow copy.

Although he was happy with the level of quality assurance undertaken on the product, Purohit said, "Support [for the new release] has not been the most successful we have had."

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