SUMMARY: Legato Networker

From: Greg Morrison (
Date: Fri May 03 1991 - 21:58:30 CDT

My posting was:

> We've been using a set of locally-written shell scripts to back up
> several dozen workstations over our university network to an Exabyte
> tape drive, located centrally. The systems being backed up are mainly
> Suns (all three varieties), with some PCs running Unix, but we would
> like to also be able to handle Apollos, Irises, and so on. Generally,
> the number and diversity of systems to be handled is expected to
> increase steadily.
> We are wondering whether it would make sense to switch to commercial
> backup software, and are particularly interested in Legato Networker.
> I'd appreciate hearing from any of you who have had experience with
> Networker, or have alternative suggestions. I'll be happy to
> summarize the responses. Thanks.

I got a bunch of replies, roughly evenly divided among those in pretty
much the same situation we're in, those who've demoed or otherwise
investigated Networker and/or other possible programs, those who
are actually using Networker, and those who would like sell it or
other programs to us. Thanks to all (see list at end).

Going through the information, the advantages of Networker seem from
my perspective (and comparing it particularly to our current scripts)
to be as follows:

   :the client-server approach. Supporting PCs running DOS as clients
is a plus, but then there is no client software currently available
for Apollos, Irises or PCs running Unix System V, all of which are or
may become important to us.

   :the ability to back up several clients simultaneously, in
parallel, multiplexing the files to tape, giving faster performance.
This could certainly help aleviate some of our current problems. But
some people pointed out that, since the underlying mechanism is not
dump, tar or whatever, one is tied into this particular program.

   :a backup can span multiple tapes. Or, multiple backups per tape.

   :availability of compression and encryption. Not sure how much
we'd use these, though.

   :selectivity and customizability. Ability to exclude selectively,
even at the file level; special handling of swap files (we have quite
a few by now); possibility of customized backup schedules for
particular clients or even filesystems; ability to do ad-hoc backups
if needed.

   :OpenWindows interface, but also remote monitoring, and
notification by mail of events.

   :indexing of backup locations, allowing users to retrieve their own
files; supports relocation of retrieved files. Then again, several
people pointed out that the index can take up lots of space.

   :you can have multiple servers operating. Not clear whether you
can have multiple exabytes on one server, nor whether exabyte
jukeboxes are supported.

As you can see, I've included some disadvantages in the above, too.
In addition, there were doubts expressed about the licensing. Though
opinion was mixed, there was considerable enthusiasm and interest, and
those actually using Networker seemed pretty happy. Even those who
were critical tended to feel that "it was generally a very neat system
and it has a lot of potential." A free demo is available, and we will
almost certainly try it out, at the least.

The main alternative mentioned was BUDTool, from Delta Microsystems.
Opinion here was split, definitely, with some seeing the underlying
use of rdump, etc., as an advantage in allowing one to cope more
easily with new kinds of systems, while others (and some of the fans,
too) felt the program went overboard on user-friendliness.

And now, thanks again to: (Frank P. Bresz)
uunet!pictel!gmd (George MacDonald)
bcook@Kodak.COM (Bill Cook) (S.L. Hric - Hillcrest Computer Operations) ( Urszula Frydman )
(anonymous person from .com world)
steve@icad.COM (Steve Carr) (Daniel B Dobkin) (Rolf Wilson) (Richard Hintz
<> (Bob Disinger)
qualix!compassion!dshaker@uunet.UU.NET (Doug Shaker)
nowicki@Legato.COM (Bill Nowicki)

Greg Morrison                           |
Computing and Communications Services   |  phone: (613) 788-2507
Carleton University                     |  fax:   (613) 788-4448
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1S 5B6         |  

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