Legato integrates serverless code into NetWorker


Having virtually disappeared from the serverless backup scene a year ago, Legato Systems recently brushed the cobwebs from its Celestra code, making it generally available in a workstation configuration to end users running NetWorker 6.1 in Solaris and HP-UX environments. The announcement is part of a broader corporate overhaul, which has included sweeping management changes, product re-launches, and new software releases.

"From a product and positioning standpoint, we're trying to put our strategy and road map together," explains George Symons, vice president of product management and development at Legato. "We've identified three key market opportunities: information protection, application availability, and management." Celestra falls under the information protection umbrella.

Based on technology inherited from Intelliguard in 1999, Celestra is Legato's serverless backup software. It competes with products such as BakBone's NetVault DirecSAN, Computer Associates' Image Option for ARCserveIT (Windows NT only), and Veritas' NetBackup Server Free Agent (Solaris only). Serverless backup allows for direct disk-to-tape data transfer in a storage area network (SAN). Benefits include reduced CPU and I/O overhead, faster restore times, and shorter backup windows.

Among the users of Celestra 1.6 is Serome Technology, a voice-over-IP service provider in Korea. "The ability to run backups at anytime without interrupting business operations has given us a major advantage," says a Serome official.

The benefits of serverless backup (above) versus traditional server-based backup (below) include reduced CPU and I/O overhead, faster restore times, and shorter backup windows.
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Despite being more than a year late with Celestra 1.6, Legato says it still plans to announce a workstation-free Celestra model, but not this year. This release will support the SCSI Extended Copy Command within a fabric device (e.g., bridge or router), not on a workstation.

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The delay, says Symons, is due to the complexity of this type of environment. "There isn't an issue with supporting SCSI Extended Copy within a fabric device [e.g., a bridge], but with managing and configuring it." Other vendors such as IBM/Tivoli contend that Extended Copy has serious performance, replication, and error- handling issues (see "Is serverless backup ready for prime time?", InfoStor, January 2001, p.1).

Symons says the primary drawbacks to the workstation approach center on performance and cost. "There can be performance issues if you're running a heavyweight multiple-layer operating system like Windows, or if you running other things on the ser ver," he says.

Legato says it plans to extend Celestra's feature set later this year to include support for Windows 2000 and NT and such functions as multi-pathing. Celestra 1.6 is an option to the just-released NetWorker 6.1.

In addition to serverless backup support, NetWorker 6.1 has a drive sharing option that allows tape drives to be dynamically reconfigured and shared among multiple NetWorker storage nodes in a single data-zone SAN environment. This capability was previously provided by SmartMedia. "We're not getting rid of SmartMedia, but it is currently only needed if you are trying to share libraries across multiple NetWorker servers in larger, more-complex environments," according to Symons.

Another advantage of doing the dynamic drive sharing in NetWorker is the ability to share tape drives among multiple Network Appliance file servers. "So, not only can users attach a library to two filers out the back, but now they can share the drives attached to those," says Symons. Legato claims to be the first to be able to do this.

Also new to 6.1 is NDMP support for Red Hat, Caldera, and SuSE Linux, which gives users the option of backing up NDMP-based Auspex and EMC network-attached storage (NAS) filers; Direct Access Restore capability for NAS; and support for Legato Automated Availability Manager (formerly Legato Cluster Enterprise) in AIX, HP-UX, and Windows. Legato has also expanded its clustering options to include IBM's HACMP. The company says it has no plans to develop its own virtualization capability but says it will manage and support a variety of products from other vendors.

In terms of management, Legato introduced its GEMS Console, a Web-enabled tool to manage, administer, and monitor both local and remote NetWorker environments. To reflect its new focus on availability, the company also reintroduced its automated data management suite under the Legato Automated Availability Manager label.

Legato acquires SCH

Last month, Legato acquired Cincinnati, OH-based SCH Technologies for $12.5 million. SCH's primary product is AlphaStor, a software package that provides some media management functions-such as tracking tapes as they move out of a library or are ready for recycling-that are not in Legato's SmartMedia software. According to George Symons, vice president of product management and development, Legato will combine AlphaStor code with SmartMedia.

SCH also sells dbBRZ online database backup software and resells StorageTek's line of REEL software products. In addition to the software products, Legato acquired SCH's Trilliant Group SAN consulting organization.

This article was originally published on August 01, 2001