Improving Backup Performance: Find the Bottleneck in .NET framework

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Properly tuned and configured backups are really just an exercise in moving data. The process is very much analogous to moving water through pipes. You have to move a certain amount of water, but you are limited by the capacity of the pipes. If you want to move more water faster, you need fatter pipes or more pipes, or you need to make better use of the pipes you already have (get the hair out of the drain!). You can put a 100MB/second LTO Ultrium 2 drive on a system, but if the backup data is sent across a 10 Base-T network, then the drive will only be able to write data at about 750KB/second (or less than 1 percent of the drive s capacity), because that s how fast the data arrives on the network.
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Improving Backup Performance: Find the Bottleneck
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Let s say that you have to back up 60GB of data located on five systems, as shown in Figure 6.2. There is 40GB on one system, and 5GB each on the remaining four. The systems are networked to a dedicated backup server, with no data of its own via an old-fashioned 10Mbit/second (10Base-T) Ethernet link. The backup server has a single DLT 7000 tape drive on it, which can write compressed data at 10MB/second. (Some data cannot be compressed as well as others, and so the 10MB/second is an estimate. Some sites report bursts of up to 12 or 13MB/second, while others see no more than 7 or 8.) The game, then, is to find the bottleneck.
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Figure 6.2 Basic networked backup configuration.
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Backups and Restores
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Regardless of how fast your tape drive can write, it will only be fed data at 750KB/second, and that assumes that your data is the only data flowing on the network cable; in real life, your throughput will probably be less. 60GB at 750KB/second will take roughly 80,000 seconds, which is over 22 hours. And that assumes maximum efficiency from every other element in the backup chain. In this example, the bottleneck is very much the network. If we magically change the network to 100Base-T (see Figure 6.3), then backup times are cut by an order of magnitude to about 8,000 seconds, or about 2 hours and 10 minutes. But since 100Base-T can only send data at about 7.5MB/second and the tape drive can handle data at about 10MB/second, the network is still your bottleneck. What if we move our tape drive from the dedicated backup server (greg) and attach it directly to the 40GB server through a nice Ultra Wide SCSI interface that can pass data at 40MB/second We have eliminated greg from the picture; marcia is now our media server. (See Figure 6.4.) Now the 40GB from marcia will go directly to the tape without hitting the network, and will do so at tape drive speed. 40GB at 10MB/second will take 4,000 seconds, or about 1 hour and 5 minutes. The remaining 20GB from the clients must still flow over the 100Base-T network at 7.5MB/second, and so will take an additional 45 minutes, for a total of about 1 hour and 50 minutes. The other advantage to putting the tape drive directly on the server is that the 40GB of backup data no longer goes across your LAN, freeing network bandwidth for other applications.
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100MB/sec Ethernet
Figure 6.3 Backup with 100MB/second network.
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Figure 6.4 Backup with the tape drive on the main server.
To increase our network performance so that it approaches the performance of our tape drives, we can introduce a switched network (see Figure 6.5). In a switched network, a private 100Mbit/second tunnel is opened between two of the network cards on the network. If we put four network cards in our main server and connect them all to a 100Base-T switched network hub, then each client can send data to the server at 7.5MB/second at the same time, for a theoretical total of 30MB/second reaching the server at the same time. 20GB at 30MB/second takes about 11 minutes. However, since our tape drive can only write at 10MB/second, our bottleneck has moved from the network to the tape drive. Assuming that we can throttle back our network usage, or limit the amount of data being sent over our networks to maximize the utilization of our single tape drive, we can write our 20GB of client data in 2,000 seconds, or about 33 minutes. We can cut still more time off of the backup by adding a second tape drive (Figure 6.6). Since the Ultra SCSI bus can handle 40MB/second (and Wide SCSI can write at 20MB/second), and our one tape drive only uses 10MB/second, we can add a second tape drive to the SCSI bus and effectively double our write performance. Used properly, our local backups are down to just 34 minutes. With our switched network still in place, the clients will back up their 20GB at 20MB/second, or 1,000 seconds, which is a little less than 17 minutes. Adding the second tape drive cuts the total backup time to just 51 minutes. The bottleneck for our clients is still the tape drives, not the network.