Dec 022009

One of the areas where administrators have been rightly able to criticise NetWorker has been the lack of reporting or auditing options to do with recoveries. While some information has always been retrievable from the daemon logs, it’s been only basic and depends on keeping the logs. (Which you should of course always do.)

NetWorker 7.6 however does bring in recovery reporting, which starts to rectify those criticisms. Now in the enterprise reporting section, you’ll find the following section:

  • NetWorker Recover
    • Server Summary
    • Client Summary
    • Recover Details
    • Recover Summary over Time

Of these reporting options, I think the average administrator will want the bottom two the most, unless they operate in an environment where clients are billed for recoveries.

Let’s look at the Recover Summary over Time report:

Recover summary over time

This presents a fairly simple summary of the recoveries that have been done on a per-client basis, including the number of files recovered, the amount of data recovered and the breakdown of successful vs failed recovery actions.

I particularly like the Recover Details report though:

Recover Details report

(Click the picture to see the entire width.)

As you can see there, we get a per user breakdown of recovery activities, when they were started, how long they took, how much data was recovered, etc.

These reports are a brilliant and much needed addition to NetWorker reporting capabilities, and I’m pleased to see EMC has finally put them into the product.

There’s probably one thing still missing that I can see administrators wanting to see – file lists of recovery sessions. Hopefully 7.(6+x) would see that report option though.


 Aside, General thoughts  Comments Off on Nybbles
Nov 262009

If you thought in the storage blogosphere that this week had seen the second coming, you’d be right. Well, the second coming of Drobo, that is. With new connectivity options and capacity for more drives, Drobo has had so many reviews this week I’ve struggled to find non-Drobo things to read at times. (That being said, the new versions do look nifty, and with my power bills shortly to cutover to have high on-peak costs and high “not quite on-peak” costs, one or two Drobos may just do the trick as far as reducing the high number of external drives I have at any given point in time.)

Tearing myself away from non-Drobo news, over at Going Virtual, Brian has an excellent overview of NetWorker v7.6 Virtualisation Features. (I’m starting to think that the main reason why I don’t get into VCBs much though is the ongoing limited support for anything other than Windows.)

At The Backup Blog, Scott asks the perennial question, Do You Need Backup? The answer, unsurprisingly is yes – that was a given. What remains depressing is that backup consultants such as Scott and myself still need to answer that question!

StorageZilla has started Parting Shot, a fairly rapid fire mini-blogging area with frequent updates that are often great to read, so it’s worth bookmarking and returning to it frequently.

Over at PenguinPunk, Dan has been having such a hard time with Mozy that it’s making me question my continued use of them – particularly when bandwidth in Australia is often index-locked to the price of gold. [Edit: Make that has convinced me to cancel my use of them, particularly in light of a couple of recent glitches I’ve had myself with it.]

Palm continues to demonstrate why it’s a dead company walking with the latest mobile backup scare coming from their department. I’d have prepared a blog entry about it, but I don’t like blogging about dead things.

Grumpy Storage asks for comments and feedback on storage LUN sizings and standards. I think a lot of it is governed by the question “how long is a piece of string”, but there are some interesting points regarding procurement and performance that are useful to have stuck in your head next time you go to bind a LUN or plan a SAN.

Finally, the Buzzword Compliance (aka “Yawn”) award goes to this quote from Lauren Whitehouse of the “Enterprise Strategy Group” that got quoted on half a zillion websites covering EMC’s release of Avamar v5:

“Data deduplicated on tape can expire at different rates — CommVault and [IBM] TSM have a pretty good handle on that,” she said. “EMC Avamar positions the feature for very long retention, but as far as a long-term repository, it would seem to be easy for them to implement a cloud connection for EMC Avamar, given their other products like Mozy, rather than the whole dedupe-on-tape thing.”

(That Lauren quote, for the record, came from Search Storage – but it reads the same pretty much anywhere you find it.)

Honestly, Cloud Cloud Cloud. Cloud Cloud Cloud Cloud Cloud. Look, there’s a product! Why doesn’t it have Cloud!? As you can tell, my Cloud Filter is getting a little strained these days.

Don’t even get me started on the crazy assumption that just because a company owns A and B they can merge A and B with the wave of a magic wand. Getting two disparate development teams to merge disparate code in a rush, rather than as a gradual evolution, is usually akin to seeing if you can merge a face and a brick together. Sure, it’ll work, but it won’t be pretty.

NetWorker 7.6 and Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)

 NetWorker  Comments Off on NetWorker 7.6 and Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
Nov 232009

While still not appearing on the NetWorker compatibility lists, it would certainly appear from testing that NetWorker 7.6 plays a whole lot nicer with Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) better than its predecessors did.

Previously when Snow Leopard came out, I posted that NetWorker 7.5 was able to work with it, but did qualify that if you were backing up laptops or other hosts that periodically changed location, NetWorker would get itself into a sufficient knot that it would become necessary to reinstall and/or reboot in order to get a successful backup. (In actual fact, it was rare that a reboot would be sufficient.) Fixed-point machines – e.g., servers and desktops – typically did not experience this problem.

It would seem that 7.6 handles location changes considerably better.

If you’re experiencing intermittent problems with NetWorker 7.5 not wanting to work properly on Mac OS X 10.6 hosts, I’d suggest upgrading to NetWorker 7.6 as a test to see whether that resolves your problems.

The usual qualifiers remain – read the release notes before doing an upgrade.

Nov 212009

While NetWorker 7.6 is not available for download as of the time I write this, the documentation is available on PowerLink. For those of you chomping at the bit to at least read up on NetWorker 7.6, now is the time to wander over to PowerLink delve into the documentation.

The last couple of releases of NetWorker have been interesting for me when it comes to beta testing. In particular, I’ve let colleagues delve into VCB functionality, etc., and I’ve stuck to “niggly” things – e.g., checking for bugs that have caused us and our customers problems in earlier versions, focusing on the command line, etc.

For 7.6 I also decided to revisit the documentation, particularly in light of some of the comments that regularly appear on the NetWorker mailing list about the sorry state of the Performance Tuning and Optimisation Guide.

It’s pleasing, now that the documentation is out, to read the revised and up to date version of the Performance Tuning Guide. Regularly critics of the guide for instance will be pleased to note that FDDI does not appear once. Not once.

Does it contain every possible useful piece of information that you might use when trying to optimise your environment? No, of course not – nor should it. Everyone’s environment will differ in a multitude of ways. Any random system patch can affect performance. A single dodgy NIC can affect performance. A single misconfigured LUN or SAN port can affect performance.

Instead, the document now focuses on providing a high level overview of performance optimisation techniques.

Additionally, recommendations and figures have been updated to support current technology. For instance:

  • There’s a plethora of information on PCI-X vs PCIeXpress.
  • RAM guidelines for the server based on the number of clients has been updated.
  • NMC finally gets a mention as a resource hog! (Obviously, that’s not the words used, but it’s the implication for larger environments. I’ve been increasingly encouraging larger customers to put NMC on a separate host for this reason.)
  • There’s a whole chunk on client parallelism optimisation, both for the clients and the backup server itself.

I don’t think this document is perfect, but if we’re looking at the old document vs the new, and the old document scored a 1 out of 10 on the relevancy front, this at least scores a 7 or so, which is a vast improvement.

Oh, one final point – with the documentation now explicitly stating:

The best approach for client parallelism values is:

– For regular clients, use the lowest possible parallelism settings to best balance between the number of save sets and throughput.

– For the backup server, set highest possible client parallelism to ensure that index backups are not delayed. This ensures that groups complete as they should.

Often backup delays occur when client parallelism is set too low for the NetWorker server. The best approach to optimize NetWorker client performance is to eliminate client parallelism, reduce it to 1, and increase the parallelism based on client hardware and data configuration.

(My emphasis)

Isn’t it time that the default client parallelism value were decreased from the ridiculously high 12 to 1, and we got everyone to actually think about performance tuning? I was overjoyed when I’d originally heard that the (previous) default parallelism value of 4 was going to be changed, then horrified when I found out it was being revised up, to 12, rather than down to 1.

Anyway, if you’ve previously dismissed the Performance Tuning Guide as being hopelessly out of date, it’s time to go back and re-read it. You might like the changes.

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