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The NDMP Initiative Overview


The NDMP initiative was launched to create an open standard protocol for network-based backup for network- attached storage. The protocol allows backup and network-attached file server vendors to focus investment on functionality instead of excessive porting, and gives users an unprecedented level of choice and interoperability. The protocol is called Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP). The objective of the protocol is to help address the problem of backing up networks of heterogeneous file servers, including dedicated file servers ("filers"), with any of several backup applications. Prior to the existence of the protocol, backup vendors would port to and track many different platforms and OS releases, with filers presenting a special challenge because of the desire to have them be backup-ready (eliminating the need to specially install backup client software). Dedicated file server vendors tried to make sure that all the newest, most important backup applications were available for their current and new releases.
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This network-based backup protocol enables the creation of a "universal agent" for the network- attached file servers to be used by any of the centralized backup administration applications. The filer vendors must only be concerned with maintaining compatibility with one, well-defined protocol. The backup vendors can place their primary focus on the sophisticated central backup administration software. 

What's the problem?

Backup is complex
  • Discovery 
  • Configuration 
  • Scheduling 
  • Media management 
  • Tape device control 
  • Autoloader device control 
  • Data client software 
  • User interface 
Backup is heterogeneous
  • Hardware & OS are selected 
    • Department level 
    • Project specific 
    • Selection changes over time 
  • Backup is often centralized 
    • Enterprise-wide decision 
    • Reduce workload on department systems administrator
Problems for users
  • File servers must be backed up 
  • User wants flexibility to choose best backup solution 
  • Users must mix-and-match backup and file servers 
  • Backup agents are not ported to all file servers 
  • Users want network-attached storage ("filers") to be backup ready 

  • that is, no backup installation required
Problems for network-attached storage vendors
  • File servers must be backed up 
  • Backup is not core-competency 
  • Customer selects backup solution 
  • File server vendors cannot mandate a single backup solution 
  • Difficult for file server vendor to work with all backup vendors 
  • Filers want to be "backup-ready" no installation of backup client 
  • Difficult to port backup agent to some file servers 
Problems for backup vendors
  • Difficult to port backup solution to most network-attached file servers 
  • Large investment to port product to all file server vendors 
  • Installation required for every host, every filer 

What is NDMP?

Backup Vendor Architectures Tend to Be Similar

NDMP Objectives

  • Solve customers needs 
    • High performance backup 
    • Backup to local tape device without network traffic 
  • Partition problem to minimize code on filer 
  • Minimize installation 
  • Filer vendor focuses on file server 
  • Backup vendor focuses on backup 
Open NDMP objectives
  • Solve customers needs 
    • Allow freedom of choice of backup solution 
  • Solve filer vendor needs 
    • File servers can be backed up 
  • Solve backup vendor needs 
    • Support of network-attached storage 
  • Improve time to market

Network Protocol for Controlling Backups

Configuration Options

Implementing NDMP

Who does what?
  • File server vendor 
    • Data, tape and SCSI interfaces 
  • Backup vendor 
    • Control and databases 


  • NDMP removes technical barriers to filer/backup solution 
    • Reduces complexity 
    • Provides interoperability 
    • Lowers administrative costs 
    • Allows file servers to be "backup ready" 
    • Allows faster backups 
  • NDMP allows vendors to focus on core competency 
  • NDMP is a cooperative open standard initiative

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