Networker, reliable but works like backup software
Josh Dix profile photo
August 16, 2017

Networker, reliable but works like backup software

Score 5 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with Networker

At Provident Funding, we use Networker for backing up virtual machine images, a few physical Windows systems, and some of our Cellera NAS. We push it all to a data domain. It is being used only by IT directly and users make requests to us as needed for recoveries. Networker gives us reduced risk of data loss.
  • Networker has proven to be really reliable in restores. If it says it was backed up successfully we have never had a restore failure which is great. Some backup software fails at this most important task, but Networker has been reliable.
  • Networker is efficient on system resources. It takes a lot of backing up in order to put our Networker (VM) under any meaningful load. We back up about 60 VMs at a time while backing up other resources (such as the NAS) and it is a breeze for the system.
  • Networker is flexible. It takes a little bit to understand how everything is linked together in the interface, but you can customize just about anything about your backup jobs from speeds, threads, backend targets, schedules, and level all very easily.
  • We backup to a data domain, which I think does most of the magic, but it is a very compressed/deduped/small backup size relative to the whole sum of the data which is great. Essentially it is very efficient on the storage side, at least when coupled with a data domain.
  • Networker terminology is awful. My favorite example is that many required-to-function configuration changes need to occur with the advanced configuration enabled. To make this worse, the 'advanced configuration' I am speaking of is actually called 'Debug Mode'. That's right, you must use debug mode in order to have a functional administrator interface.
  • Errors are common and to resolve you often must go to support. You really need to be an expert to fix many errors, the steps usually involve being really knowledgeable in the CLI tools, which I am getting good at, but the public documentation is seriously lacking for troubleshooting these issues. That said, support (through emc) is really good at handling the common issues, friendly, generally knowledgeable, and quick to respond.
  • It runs on Java, and sometimes I need to clear java cache to fix interface bugs. Generally this isn't an issue, but it is additional software you must worry about.
  • Networker has helped reduce risk of data loss. We have many compensating controls for business user level data but Networker has been helpful with full image recoveries. Sometimes an IT mistake can be hard to back out of and/or rebuilding from scratch isn't a good option. Networker has helped save lots of IT engineer's time in our company.
Previously I have used MS DPM and Symantec Backup Exec. I think they all have similar strengths and drawbacks actually. In general, BE/DPN have slightly better interfaces and terminology but slightly worse backup and recovery reliability. I would recommend Networker over them for the reason of reliability as I have experienced it. My disclaimer is that I worked with DPM and BE many years ago at this point so all this software may have improved at different rates. Backups and backup software continue to be seen as a huge but necessary time sink for me and I plan on doing more evaluations to see if there is better software out there. I am looking at trying Veeam but have not yet had a chance to evaluate, for example.
Networker is really good at backing up a lot of data and it might be the right tool for the job if you have a title like 'backup administrator'. I say this because I think to really master and benefit from Networker it requires an immense amount of time playing with the CLI tools before you could comfortably solve many issues on your own. Due to the need I have (and I generally don't have to do this for similar type/complexity products) to reach out to support so often I wouldn't generally recommend it as I work in many systems and my job requires me to administer multiple back end systems of comparable size and importance. However, it is incredibly efficient and reliable, so if you have a large infrastructure and have plenty of time to get really intimate with the software, it can be a good friend. I didn't chose Networker, at first I didn't like it, and now I think it is an OK or even good solution, but it took a lot of experience to feel that way.

Dell EMC Networker Feature Ratings

Live recovery
8
Recovery verification
10
Multiple backup destinations
10
Incremental backup identification
10
Deduplication and file compression
10
Snapshots
10
Flexible deployment
10
Management dashboard
5
Platform support
10
Retention options
10