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Commentary from a long term NetWorker consultant and Backup Theorist

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Aside – Is NetWorker fast enough for my needs?

Posted by Preston on 2009-07-30

Most days my blog stats shows at least one search coming into the blog along the lines of “how fast is NetWorker”, etc. It’s understandable. A lot of people selling products other than NetWorker try to push old FUD that it’s not fast enough. Equally, a lot of people who are considering NetWorker are understandably curious as to whether it will be fast enough to suit their needs.

I thought I should write a (brief) piece on this.

To cut to the chase, NetWorker is as fast as your hardware will allow. Yes, there are obviously some software limitations, but that’s true of any backup product.

Looking at the facts though, we can refer back as far as 2003, where NetWorker broke the (let’s call it) “land speed record” for backup by achieving backup performance of 10TB per hour. Most companies now would still be happy with 10TB an hour, but obviously that performance metric was bound by the devices and infrastructure available at the time. These days, it would obviously come out much faster.

I’m currently struggling to find the original Legato piece about this performance record, but my recollection is that it was:

  • Averaging 10TB/h
  • Achieving 2.86GB/s (that’s gigabytes per second, not gigabits per second)
  • Using real customer data

I did find the (very brief) SGI announcement about the speed achieved here. I also found a Sun/Legato presentation here (search for “10TB/h”), and a “press clipping” here.

The net result? Well, I’m not claiming every environment will get that sort of speed, but what I will reasonably confidently assert is that NetWorker will scale to meet your needs, so long as you have budget.

Backup performance isn’t really a p–ssing competition that you want to get into – in reality, if you want to worry about “speeds and feeds”, look at restore performance. NetWorker does admirably there – that 10TB/h filesystem backup restored at 4.5TB/h, and a block level backup run at 7.2TB/h restored at 7.9TB/h.

So the next time someone tries to tell you that “NetWorker isn’t fast enough to be enterprise”, remember one thing: they’re wrong.


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