How to Improve NAS Backup Performance, Without Comprise

How to Improve NAS Backup Performance, Without Comprise

Concat’s dsmISI products can dramatically boost backup performance when targeting NAS, as well as offering a great alternative to NDMP.

Backing up large network attached storage (NAS) data is typically a painful, clunky and unrealiable process.

Many backup using the Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP), a protocol that enables to transportation between NAS devices and backup devices.

The main advantage of NDMP is that it removes the need for transporting that data through the backup server itself and can directly offload to secondary storage.

However it does have quite a few pitfalls including the following:

  • NDMP is not storage agnostic
     In general you cannot backup data and restore to another array from another vendor or sometimes even another OS version. This means you need an identical array to recover onto so it is a very inflexible solution.
  • The majority of the backup software solutions do not index the files of the NDMP files
     For example in Spectrum Protect you can store a Table of Content (TOC) with the backup but if you want to restore a single file you have to load the TOC into a temporary table to work with it. This is typically very time consuming.
  • NDMP doesn't really support a incremental forever strategy
     That means it doesn't scale well and you have to do a full backup periodically which is a no go with large file systems at petabyte scale that contain billions of files.

The business realities of these pitfalls are:

  • You cant backup your NAS data quickly enough
  • Your RPO is days or weeks rather than hours
  • Your consuming too much space due to having to store periodic fulls
  • You have to have an identical array available to recover onto
  • The array will at some point go EOL meaning if you need to recover previous backups you still need access to a EOL array and
  • More than likely your boss is shouting at you that this should be easier and more cost effective

So how do you provide a sustainable method to your company to backup NAS data and make each of those business realities of NDMP history?

The answer is simple via dsmISI MAGS

dsmISI MAGS in conjunction with IBM Spectrum Protect enables the incremental backup of large production file services for a wide range of NAS vendors including EMC, HDS, HP, IBM NetApp and for Windows file servers.

Spectrum Protect (previously TSM or ADSM or WDSF for the experienced veterans amongst us) is still the only software capable of continuously backing up file systems entirely incrementally. With extremely large file systems, containing many millions or even billions of objects, this approach, however, does have its limits. Very often the time used for identifying changed, new or deleted objects alone takes days or even weeks – and thus renders a service level which requires a daily backup cycle which is impossible to achieve.
 General Storage dsmISI MAGS solves this fundamental problem by accelerating identification of changes and the resulting movement of data by orders of magnitude. Even extremely large and busy file systems can be backed up incrementally within a reasonable timespan using regular Spectrum Protect incremental backup when controlled by dsmISI MAGS.So how does it work? 

MAGS is in effect a wrapper for the Windows Spectrum Protect client, designed to accelerate backups of NTFS, CIFS & SMB file systems with many objects. MAGS does not interfere with what Spectrum Protect does or does not do. It merely starts many Spectrum Protect clients in parallel to assure faster backups and restores. The general concept of how MAGS works is pictured below, yes it really is quite simple!

MAGS runs on a Windows server and has the following requirements:

  • Requires a 64 bit Windows operating system (Windows 8.1, Windows 2008 R2 or Windows 2012 R2)
  • Requires Spectrum Protect Client/TSM Version 6.3 or later, configured to a Spectrum Protect/TSM Server (any Platform) Version 6.2 or later
  • Microsoft .Net 4.5
  • If you plan to backup data through a Linux system (NFS or Unix-type file systems), that system has to have a Spectrum Protect/TSM client V 6.3 or later installed

From version 1.1 MAGS monitoring and configuration are based on a web interface. From MAGS CONFIG you can alter the web port the webserver is configured under (8088 by default), ensure a valid license key is active, install the service, uninstall the service, start, stop and restart the MAGS web server service.

Once the web service is installed and running your flying and can access the MAGS web interface so assist setting up backups, monitoring backups and setting up parallel restores to run.

Scheduled backups run via Spectrum Protect have to call on a .cmd containing a command to run the mags executable and referencing the MAGS option file created via the web interface during setup. You will have obviously needed to configure the schedule in Spectrum Protect to run the .cmd which should be located on the MAGS proxy server, associated the MAGS proxy node with the schedule, setup the client scheduler on the MAGS proxy node and ensured the scheduler is running via an ID that can access the fileshare to be backed up via MAGS.


First full backups will typically take a considerable period of time, this depends on a number of factors including the size of the fileshare, number of files and underlying infrastructure for the MAGS proxy and Spectrum Protect server. However once the first full is complete incremental forever backups are possible and the real business benefits of MAGS are realised.


So what are the real business benefits of MAGS?

  • It enables an incremental forever backup strategy for large filesystems and makes quicker and more frequent backups possible
  • Provides organisations with a reduced RPO and RTO vs NDMP
  • Ensures data can be restored from backup and enables recovery onto ANY storage
  • Significantly reduces your storage requirement due to storing incremental’s rather than regular full’s
  • Ultimately it provides a sustainable method for backing up NAS data

Sounds great, how do I see it in action? 

We can quickly setup a proof of concept and use a 30 day trial license for dsmISI MAGS to enable the solution to be proven before you replace NDMP or your existing backup solution for your filesystems with it.

So if you want to be a data protection hero in your organisation and enable the implementation of a sustainable method for backing up NAS data please feel free to get in contact with our Technical Services Manager William Bush.