Protecting NAS Devices with NDMP

 This post is one in a series concerning release 8.0 for Recovery-Series physical appliances and our UEB virtual appliance. The overview for this series may be found here.

We admit it. NDMP is not a new technology. But it still has legs in the backup and recovery world, especially in larger enterprises. So we are very excited to be adding NDMP support for protecting EMC and NetApp Network-attached storage (NAS) in Release 8.0 for our enterprise-class Recovery-Series and Unitrends Enterprise BackupTM appliances. While the technology may not be new, there are still a number of vendors lacking NDMP support out there.

For those not too familiar with NDMP, here’s a definition from SearchStorage:

NDMP (Network Data Management Protocol) is an open protocol used to control data backup and recovery communications between primary and secondary storage in a heterogeneous network environment.

Clear as mud? Let’s simplify.

Unitrends leverages NDMP as an option to execute backup and recovery for NAS file servers. Because these devices typically do not support installing a backup agent on them, we leverage the NDMP protocol as a way to integrate more tightly with the storage to access its data more easily than the alternative – mounting each volume via CIFS or NFS protocols and using file-level methods to protect and recover.

So NDMP is definitely how you want to protect every NAS device. Right? Well, not exactly.

With NDMP, you will get the following benefits:

  • Simpler access to the NAS storage stack
  • Much faster backups in certain circumstances, particularly where the NAS contains millions of small files
  • Support for incremental backups, yielding more recovery points and less network impact
  • Persistence of access control lists (ACLs) and other file attributes after recovery

These are all great things, for sure.  However, NDMP data streams include both metadata and data in them. As a result, they often do not deduplicate – and hence, replicate – as efficiently as mounting the volumes using CIFS or NFS.

If you need to protect EMC and NetApp filers, there’s a good chance you’ll want to take a look at leveraging the NDMP protocol support from Unitrends. However, if storage footprint and replication bandwidth are serious concerns, then you still have the option to protect using the CIFS or NFS approach.


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