EMC on Monday announced the next version of its NetWorker Unified Backup and Recovery Software. NetWorker 8.0 was designed with backup transformation in mind as enterprises transform their IT infrastructures to move to cloud computing models and deliver IT-as-a-service.

For example, Networker 8.0 has a new architecture that EMC says lowers server processing and delivers three times more scalability. And a "Client Direct" feature lets NetWorker clients backup directly from the application client to disk.

Networker 8.0 also offers DD Boost integration, new data protection capabilities for SQL Server, and multi-tenancy management that delivers logical zoning of data, devices and users in shared backup environments. EMC Global Services announced a new services, including infrastructure assessments.

No More Ugly Ducklings

"EMC has delivered a rich set of new backup to disk enhancements for NetWorker users with its 8.0 release, some of which will have immediate impact in existing user environments and others that will help enable more progressive backup and recovery initiatives," said Jason Buffington, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.

"Deeper integration with Data Domain, enhanced Microsoft workload support via its consolidated agent and the new Client Direct feature are high-value additions that will make NetWorker 8.0 a particularly compelling proposition for large enterprises with diverse sets of backup data."

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said that too often, backup-and-recovery is the ugly duckling of the data center -- mostly ignored, a target for complaints and only grudgingly supported. But, he added, discussions around backup and recovery have evolved over the past decade with the improving price and performance of HDD technologies.

A Positive Double Whammy

"Networker 8.0's new architecture delivers a positive double whammy of reduced server processing requirements and a tripling of scalability. That means enterprises using the new platform should see notable improvements in ROI, a crucial issue in times of tight budgets," King said.

"In addition, Networker 8.0's new Client Direct boosts point-to-point backup times by 50 percent or more by taking the storage node out of the data path. That allows businesses carrying severe backup burdens, like large hospitals creating multiple terabytes' worth of new medical images every day, to safely secure critical files and meet their SLAs [service-level agreements]."

Dan Yancy, a systems engineer at Cook Children's Hospital, is on board with Networker 8.0. He said the environment at Cook is about 85 percent virtualized, with approximately 650 virtual machines. As a Microsoft shop, Yancy found the additional application support features helpful, and the new configuration wizards were useful.

"We back up as much as 10 TBs nightly to a Data Domain system, then replicate to a second remote Data Domain system," Yancy said. "DD Boost at the NetWorker client combined with the new Client Direct feature improved backup performance to the point where we could run backups two times a day -- or even more, which is really important in a large hospital environment."