EMC launches NetWorker 8 with Client Direct, multi-tenancy

EMC NetWorker 8 arrives nearly a decade after NetWorker 7; enhancements include a way to bypass the media server and multi-tenancy for cloud backup.

EMC today rolled out the most significant enhancements to its NetWorker backup software since 2003, revising the architecture so it no longer requires a media server and adding multi-tenancy for cloud backup.

"We made fundamental architectural changes to support backup to disk," Rob Emsley, EMC's senior director of product marketing for backup products, said of NetWorker 8. "We changed the way backup data flows from backup clients to any disk target."

NetWorker 8 distributes the backup process among application servers. In previous versions, backups were managed through media servers sitting between the application servers and the backup target.

EMC claims its NetWorker's new Client Direct feature can improve backup speeds by up to 50% by backing up directly from the application client to disk without going through a media server.

"In the past, data would have to go through NetWorker storage nodes [media servers]," Emsley said. "We're reducing from two hops to one hop."

The Client Director feature also works with EMC's Data Domain DDBoost software to improve performance when NetWorker is used with Data Domain's deduplication backup systems.

DDBoost, which offloads part of the deduplication processing to the backup software and server, previously worked with NetWorker on the media server but not on the backup client.

NetWorker 8's multi-tenancy features allow customers to logically zone data, devices and users in shared backup environments. This feature can help enterprises running private clouds or cloud service providers.

"It provides isolation of data within the backup infrastructure," Emsley said.

NetWorker does not give customers the ability to move data directly off to cloud service providers such as Amazon S3 or Microsoft Azure, an ability offered by some of its competitors. Emsley said NetWorker customers would have to go through Data Domain appliances to move data to a public cloud.

"You can back up to Data Domain and replicate to a service provider," Emsley said. "That gives customers the ability to contract out their DR and keep local backup."

EMC also extended NetWorker's support for Microsoft applications, adding support for SQL Server 2012 and granular-level recovery for Exchange, SharePoint and Hyper-V. The latest version of NetWorker also supports Clustered Shared Volumes for Hyper-V. Granular-level restores let customers restore individual files instead of all the data on an application server.

EMC launched NetWorker 7 soon after acquiring NetWorker's original developer, Legato. EMC added features over the years without fully revamping the product. The last release, NetWorker 7.6, was released in 2010.

With version 8, EMC makes it clear it will continue to develop NetWorker and Avamar backup software separately. Like other areas of EMC's storage portfolio, there is overlap between products. Emsley said Avamar is aimed mostly for remote offices and endpoint devices, although he admits "there is some blurring between the lines in the data center."

NetWorker remains one of the few major backup applications without data deduplication. EMC offers dedupe at the target with its Data Domain appliances and at the source with Avamar software and appliances, and NetWorker works with those products to reduce data.

"Our deduplication is appliance-centric," Emsley said. "We made a conscious decision to offer Avamar as a standalone product instead of embedding the [deduplication] technology with NetWorker. Some of our competitors use a one-size-fits-all model. We can sell Avamar for specific use cases."

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