EMC Unveils NetWorker 8.0 With Big Focus On Multi-tenancy, Performance

EMC on Tuesday unveiled EMC NetWorker 8.0, the first major upgrade to its flagship data protection software in years and the first to include multi-tenancy, a key feature for use in cloud and managed services environments.

EMC NetWorker 8.0 also includes significant increases in performance and scalability, improved integration with other EMC technologies including the vendor's Data Domain deduplication appliances, and enhanced support for Microsoft applications.

However, it is the multi-tenancy feature that solution providers said is the most critical for helping customers take advantage of cloud and managed services offerings.

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EMC got NetWorker with its 2003 acquisition of Legato.

Multi-tenancy gives service providers and large enterprises the ability to create logical zones, provide isolated data capabilities and separate customers, said Rob Emsley, senior director of product marketing for EMC's backup and recovery systems division.

"In the past, for large enterprises to do this, they would need multiple nodes and backup devices," Emsley said. "Now they can share resources but have separate services environments."

The addition of multi-tenancy to EMC NetWorker 8.0 provides EMC a new growth opportunity in the part of the data protection market where brand name is not so important, said Keith Norbie, vice president of Nexus, the Minnetonka, Minn.-based office of Stratos Management Services, an Atlanta-based solution provider and EMC partner.

EMC's NetWorker, which since EMC's acquisition of Legato has been seen as an old-school legacy product, has done well in legacy NetWorker environments, but it has had a difficult time attracting new customers, Norbie said.

"The biggest caveat in data protection software is not the killer feature but the killer take-out," he said. "Solution providers offering technology with the ability to attract new customers can do well. That's why multi-tenancy and managed services are important."

Moving customers to new backup technologies is hard unless a managed service is involved, Norbie said.

"Migrating customers to a new backup product is one of the hardest things a solution provider can do," he said. "Manufacturers sometimes even offer the products for free, but customers may not take it."

NEXT: Multi-tenancy, New Architecture, And More

Jamie Shepard, executive vice president of technology solutions at ICI, a Marlborough, Mass.-based solution provider and long-time EMC partner, said his company is hosting backups, managing them and providing 24/7 access with EMC technologies such as Data Domain.

"Getting multi-tenancy is a huge plus for EMC," Shepard said.

When EMC acquired Legato in 2003, NetWorker was in its seventh version, making the upgrade to version 8.0 seem late despite all the enhancements EMC has done over the years, EMC's Emsley said.

"During the EMC years, we have been delivering upgrades to the version 7 release that came to us in 2003," he said. "We did a lot of releases, but we didn't name any as version 8.0 until now. Looking back, we probably should have done it sooner."

NetWorker currently has an installed base of about 23,000 customers worldwide, the vast majority of which were handled by channel partners, Emsley said.

In addition to the multi-tenancy addition, EMC has enhanced Networker in three other primary areas with version 8.0, he said.

The first is an architecture upgrade to increase scalability and performance. The primary change here was to move the management of backup devices from a single NetWorker server to a distributed management system across all the storage nodes, which significantly improves scalability, Emsley said.

NetWorker 8.0 also replaces the previous flat file used to manage storage to a relational database, which decreases memory requirements as the data scales by up to 80 percent, he said.

Also new is the ability to stream backup data direct to target storage devices instead of routing that data through the storage nodes, which Emsley said cuts backup times by 50 percent or more.

The second primary area of enhancement is deeper integration with EMC's Data Domain backup and deduplication appliances that takes advantage of Data Domain Boost, a software used for improving the performance of deduplication.

The third primary area is expanded support for Microsoft applications, including supporting the virtual device interface in SQL Server to provide granular backup support.

EMC NetWorker 8.0 also provides granular recovery for Microsoft's Exchange and SharePoint, as well as support for Hyper-V virtualization technologies in Microsoft Clustered Shared Volumes, he said.