EMC NetWorker 7.6 SP1 surfaces

Photo of DD880 appliance (from EMC.com)
Photo of DD880 appliance (from EMC.com)

This week EMC releases NetWorker 7.6 SP1 with new Boost support for Data Domain (DD) appliances which allows NetWorker’s storage node (media server) and the DD appliance to jointly work on providing deduplication services.  Earlier this year EMC DD announced the new Boost functionality which at the time only worked with Symantec’s OST interface. But with this latest service pack (SP1), NetWorker also offers this feature and EMC takes another step to integrate DD systems and functonality across their product portfolio.

DD Boost integration with NetWorker

DD Boost functionality resides on the NetWorker storage node which transfers data to backend storage.  Boost offloads the cutting up of data into segments fingerprinting segments and passing the fingerprints to DD.  Thereafter NetWorker only passes unique data between the storage node and the DD appliance.

Doing this reduces the processing workload on DD appliance, uses less network bandwidth, and on the NetWorker storage node itself, reduces the processing requirements.  While this later reduction may surprise some, realize the storage node primarily moves data and with DD Boost, it moves less data, consuming less processing power. All in all, with NetWorker-DD Boost vs. NetWorker using DD in NFS mode there is a SIGNIFICANT improvement in data ingest performance/throughput.

DD cloning controlled by NetWorker

Also the latest SP incorporates DD management integration, such that an admin can control DataDomain replication from the NetWorker management console alone.  Thus, the operator no longer needs to use the DD management interface to schedule, monitor, and terminate DD replication services.

Additionally, NetWorker can now be aware of all DD replicas and as such, can establish separate retention periods for each replica all from the NetWorker management interface.  Another advantage is that now tape clones of DD data can be completely managed from the NetWorker management console.

Furthermore, one can now configure new DD appliances as a NetWorker resource using new configuration wizards.  NetWorker also supports monitoring and alerting on DD appliances through the NetWorker management console which includes capacity utilization and dedupe rates.

Other enhancements made to NetWorker

  • NetWorker Cloning – scheduling of clones no longer requires CLI scripts and is now can be managed within the GUI as well.  NetWorker cloning is the process which replicates save sets to other storage media.
  • NetWorker Checkpoint/Restart- resuming backups from known good points after a failure. Checkpoint/Restart can be used for very large save sets which cannot complete within a window.

New capacity based licensing for NetWorker

It seems like everyone is simplifying their licensing (see CommVault’s Simpana 9 release). With this version of NetWorker, EMC now supports a capacity based licensing option in addition to their current component- and feature-based  licensing.  With all the features of the NetWorker product, component-based licensing has become more complex and cumbersome to use.  The new Capacity License Option charges on the amount of data being protected and all NetWorker features are included at no additional charge.

The new licensing option is available worldwide, with no tiers of capacity based licensing for feature use, i.e., one level of capacity based licensing.  Capacity based licensing can be more cost effective for those using advanced NetWorker features, should be easier to track, and will be easier to install.  Anyone under current maintenance can convert to the new licensing model but it requires this release of NetWorker software.

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NetWorker’s 7.6 SP1 is not a full release but substantial nonetheless.  Not the least of which is the DD Boost and management integration being rolled out.  Also, I believe the new licensing option may appeal to a majority of their customer base but one has to do the math.  Probably some other enhancements I missed here but these seem the most substantial.

What do you think?