EMC is updating its NetWorker backup and recovery software on Tuesday with an eye to greater efficiency, tighter integration with other EMC products, and cloud computing.
NetWorker 8 is the most significant new version of the software since 2003, when NetWorker 7 was released. It updates the product in several major ways, both streamlining it for higher performance and enhancing its usefulness.
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In fact, the basic architecture of NetWorker has been changed for improved performance and scalability. In previous versions of NetWorker, the management of backup appliances ran entirely on the central NetWorker server. With Version 8, that work is distributed among NetWorker Storage Nodes, the servers that send data to backup appliances. Adding more backup systems no longer requires more central server capacity.
"Rather than one server managing devices, you now have N number of servers managing devices," said Rob Emsley, senior director of product marketing. "That has allowed us to, with the same amount of infrastructure ... scale to three times the amount of devices," he said.
While NetWorker Storage Nodes now can take over management tasks, another new feature called Client Direct lets NetWorker bypass those nodes in the backup process. Client Direct is an addition to NetWorker's client software that can send data directly from the client to a backup target, such as a disk array. This feature reduces the backup path from two hops to one, cutting in half the time it takes to complete the process, Emsley said.
Reducing the workload on NetWorker Storage Nodes is the key benefit that Luke Youngblood sees in NetWorker 8. Youngblood is an enterprise infrastructure architect at a large national health-care technology company in the U.S. His company has standardized on Data Domain backup appliances from EMC, using data deduplication to cut the amount of data that has to be transported and stored. The company offers managed services for processing health-care diagnostics and insurance claims, and it has about 2,000 physical and virtual servers in five data centers around the U.S., with about 1 petabyte of data.
With its current NetWorker software, Version 7.6, Youngblood's company has to run every backup through a NetWorker Storage Node, he said. That has meant fat 10-Gigabit Ethernet pipes to carry data from multiple servers to the node, plus high capacity within the node to handle the process.
With NetWorker 7.6, "You had to be careful not to overload the storage node," Youngblood said. In some cases, that has required his company to stagger its backups so there aren't too many running at once. Once deduplication and backup happen directly between the client and the storage appliance, a Gigabit Ethernet connection will suffice and the company won't have to invest in more storage nodes just for processing, he said.
In addition to decentralizing the way NetWorker operates, EMC has also added several other features.