EMC's NetWorker Storageware Gets First Major Release in 10 Years

NetWorker 8 breaks up backup workloads into smaller pieces in order to get the job done faster and includes new SQL Server support.

EMC has been poked in the past for retaining an ancient code base dating back to the Paleolithic Age (for IT, that means the late 1980s) in some of its storage arrays.


Now that may be a tad harsh, because the Symmetrix code base was updated in 2010 for the company's VMAX line and built upon several times since EMC acquired it in 1987. One also must realize that most of that old-code, FUD-type (fear, uncertainty and doubt) talk emanates from competitors simply trying to dislodge the king of storage from its customers.

EMC, of course, has one answer: If it works, why change it? Truth be told, EMC has a history of sticking with software for long periods of time, despite the fast pace of change in other areas of IT.

The company's latest software update, NetWorker 8, was released July 10. This is the first new version of EMC's universal storage software since NetWorker 7 took a bow in 2003.

NetWorker 8 has new features aimed at big data-type workloads, runs faster and is easier to use, EMC Senior Director of Product Marketing Rob Emsley told eWEEK.

"We've added a new architecture to drive higher performance and scalability," Emsley said. "Our customers' workloads aren't getting any smaller, so we've added new features that specifically speed up backup to disk. We actually believe that the performance of individual backups will improve by up to 50 percent."

If that's true, that kind of time savings would be music to storage administrators' ears, because daily, weekly and monthly backup jobs are generally the bane of their professional existences.

NetWorker 8 breaks up backup workloads into smaller pieces in order to get the job done faster. In NetWorker 7 and earlier, management of backup appliances ran only on a central NetWorker server, which causes traffic problems in large data sets. In NetWorker 8, that work is distributed to up to three times as many storage nodes, so that adding more backup nodes no longer chokes a central server.

Storage admins also have more flexibility in choosing how to process a workload with NetWorker 8, thanks to a new feature called Client Direct. This enables NetWorker to bypass specific nodes in the backup process, if so desired.

Client Direct can send data straight from a client to a backup target, such as a disk array or virtual tape library--bypassing the server completely. This can save a great deal of time and bandwidth, Emsley said.

NetWorker 8 now includes granular restoration support--one or several files if needed, instead of an entire node--for Microsoft SQL Server 2012, Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010, Emsley said.

Private and hybrid cloud system administrators will be glad to hear this: For the first time, EMC is including multi-tenancy in NetWorker 8. This enables backup loads by different company departments to be targeted to the same storage device but separated from one another.

This function also allows service providers in a hosted cloud environment to back up data of numerous customers and keep it in one place. All the individual data sets are kept secure using EMC's RSA role-based access process.

NetWorker 8 is now more tightly integrated with EMC's Data Domain backup appliances. Data Domain systems are already well-known for efficient data deduplication, so a native integration with the speedier NetWorker 8 is a huge plus, Emsley said.

NetWorker 8.0 is available now, starting at $2,000 for an entry-level configuration.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...