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06/09/2011

SnapProtect questions… I have answers!

Last week, we unveiled our latest offering: SnapProtect.

NAP_SnapProtect

There was a lot of shock-and-awe concern and excitement, as well as a lot of what I like to call "unicorns and rainbows" theorycrafting going on, some positive, some negative-nancy. What I'm going to do here is post a sort of FAQ based on some questions received in the communities, and if you have further questions, we can continue those into the comments below, and I will go straight to the source to get answers if I cannot answer them myself. Big thanks go out to Glenn Miller and Vaughn Stewart for helping me pull all this info together and share it with you.

You can also log your questions over in the NetApp communities here: http://communities.netapp.com/message/56120

You can find the new TR, "SnapProtect Overview and Design Considerations" here: http://media.netapp.com/documents/tr-3920.pdf

So without further adieu, let's dive in to the meat of what you came to read.

So, SnapProtect is the all-in-one solution that replaces SMVI, SMO/Exch/SQL and local snapshots for NAS volumes, in a one-pane-of-glass management solution with SnapMirror and SnapVault integration. Right? This sounds to good to be true...

In a word? Yes.  

I still need DFM/ProtMan/ProvMan? Why? Can't SnapProtect do the updates for me, after I create any mirror/vault relationships myself? DFM gives me very limited options in how to create those relationships and manages them really poorly. How does SnapProtect copy a specific SnapVault snapshot to tape if that snapshot is not created by itself but by PM instead? It would make SnapProtect a real one-in-all solution if it could also manage mirror and vault relations and their retentions, without the need for DFM.

SnapProtect only requires OpsMgr/Protection Manager and mostly only uses Protection Manager as a sort of SDK for making storage provisioning and replication requests. The only time the user needs to directly interface with Protection Manager is to create and manage the resource pools that SnapProtect uses for secondary storage. SnapProtect automagically provisions secondary volumes and qtrees for SnapVault or SnapMirror when new clients are added to storage policies. This is actually pretty slick. SnapProtect creates and deletes all snapshots and directly triggers all replication. For this reason, SnapProtect has no problem going from snapshot to SnapVault to Tape.

Do I still need SnapDrive? To create a consistent LUN snapshot, with or without a database on it, I need a VSS Hardware provider, like SnapDrive. Is it still required? If no, how is this tackled? Does SnapProtect have its own VSS Hardware Provider? Oh, and are there any required windows hotfixes, like the immense list for windows 2003?

SnapDrive is not required. SnapProtect has its own VSS HW provider.

Does SnapProtect still require a specific volume/qtree/lun layout for SQL, Exchange and Oracle? Is that layout comparable to the requirements of SMO/SMSQL/SMExch? Why/why not? Does SnapProtect also have the very usefull migration wizards?

There are no migration wizards, such as the Configuration Wizard in SME.  This was built into SME due to the inherent requirement of remote storage.  Maybe it's best to understand that SnapProtect doesn't care about this sort of thing, meaning we can now support backups of VM's running these applications with VMDK's running in ESX datastores.  (Hope that makes sense?)   In other words, comparing this to the SnapManager products is an apples to oranges comparison, and should not be equated that way.  As far as specific disk layouts required?  No.

What about compatibility and interoperability? SMO on Windows does not work with SnapVault. SMVI does not work with SnapVault without scripting. SMSQL has VMDK support, but not with PM/SnapVault integration. And what if I set up a separate mirror/vault network interface? I'm still having issues with that with current snap* solutions. Are all (and I mean really all) integrations supported by SnapProtect? Are the latest versions of Exchange, SQL, Oracle, VMware ESX, Sharepoint etc supported? I read there is currently no ONTAP 8 support?? You can't bring a product to market without it! That just makes no sense.

First, ONTAP 8.0.1 7-mode support is right around the corner.  It is currently being qualified.

Second, a lot of work went into adding SnapVault and SnapMirror support to the application snapshot capabilities that were already available from CommVault with Simpana 9.  We support BOTH replication engines as well as varying cascades and fan-out configurations.  I'm not aware of any networking configuration restrictions.  There is an interoperability matrix you could use for specifics on the NOW site, but for the most part, the latest versions of the popular tier 1 apps are all supported. 

We have listened. We realize these have all always been pain points. SnapProtect is here to answer those pain points.

I will also add that there have been a lot of questions about positioning, cannibalizing other products, etc. And I wanted to set the record straight around who is supposed to do what and which product, etc.

  1. SnapProtect is positioned to be our primary tool for backing up solutions running on VMware, Citrix, and enterprise-wide backup opportunities. This includes vCloud Director, its database(s), and all underlying tenants. Cataloguing, cascade and fan-out Vault & Mirror relationships, in a single GUI. This is it. If your shop is new to NetApp, or looking to beef-up your current backup ways-and-means, you can't pass up looking at SnapProtect. Oh, and it will do all the old traditional physical stuff as well. Oh, and V-series is supported in front of 3rd party arrays. I'm not kidding, guys. This is the all-in-one you've been asking for.
  2. SnapManager for X is our primary tool for backing up solutions running on Hyper-V and also will continue to be used in shops where the SnapManagers are used for more than just B/R. Cloning, test/dev, etc, I personally still see the SnapManagers for Exch/SQL/SharePoint/SAP/etc having a strong play here.
  3. SnapCreator is a technology enablement tool, somewhat like the Data Ontap Powershell Toolkit, and will be promoted as a tool that enables one when there are no solutions. Personally, I see this gaining traction in the Linux shops by people who live-and-die at the CLI, and like having the control of granular configuration. It really is a brilliant product. It was originally created for the community, by the community, and will continue to be developed and QA'ed internal at NetApp, with heavy community participation.

If I didn't cover all concerns, please let me know!  I want this to be a very interactive post, so please don't be shy!

-Nick

Comments

Fletch

@Nick - I'd like to try snapprotect, but what licenses requirements/costs are associated with it?

My NOW account currently lists the the download as "Not Active/Expired" although I have flexclone, snapmirror licenses.

I'd like to test out the vmware snap integration

thanks

Nhowell

@Fletch

Great question on licensing! What I can tell you is that it is a per-controller license, just like all of the other NetApp products. What I can't tell you about is cost, because, frankly, I just don't know. I have reached out to people on the Stanford account about getting you set up with a demo and they should be contacting you!

Bert

How does snapprotect deal with applications such as MS SQL or Oracle in a VMWare environment? If I understand correctly the VMWare integration is VMDK/file level only, the integrations for non-virtualized versions of these applications aren't available with the additional VMWare layer. I guess backup will work just fine but restore will be more of an all or nothing approach.

Nhowell

@Bert

SnapProtect has its own VSS provider, in the form of a tiny agent that gets pushed into the VM, called iDataAgent. This guy is basically just a translator, and knows how to talk the talk with the likes of all tier1 apps (i.e. Oracle hot backup mode, ALTER DATABASE OPEN, etc)

So, you can take a backup of just the app, or the entire VM, or both at the same time, and the agent will release the app back to its normal operating state.

Restores absolutely work as you described, but better. You can restore different snapshots of db's, even to different instances (auth permitting).

To your point about VMDK/file only, this is true, but I want to make sure you understand the context. We're trying to promote users to keep everything within the confines of their virtual environment. By sticking to using VMDK's inside datastores (let's say 10GbE NFS to your storage/ESXi) then you get all the bene's of NFS, and your Orcl/SQL/Exch VM's just think they have local disks. Keeps everything nice and neat. No more block storage headache. And performance will not suffer.

Ryan

Can a current CommVault / NetApp customer get the SnapProtect functionality for their existing Simpana installation? If so, what are the licensing requirements?

Thanks.

Nhowell

@Ryan

Simpana has the same functionality as NetApp SnapProtect. We have OEM'ed CommVault's product as we think that highly of it, and are already intimately integrated with it.

For existing customers, you would just keep Simpana, and add more NetApp storage on the backend for the varying replication scenario's, as you see fit.

Bert


@Nick

Thank you for your reply, three follow up questions if I may:
You mention a client+VSS provider, which I also find mentioned in the tr-3920 document but I see no such option for quiescing for Linux VMs, am I missing something or does this integration not (yet) exists?
If I where to restore one or more VMs on a volume/qtree which have been backed up by snapprotect, will I be dealing with a bunch of directories files or will the integration provide me with a list of VMs?
Is there any difference in the restore options when using NFS or FC datastores (for VMs)?

Once again thanks for your answers, really helps me getting to know this solution better.

Nhowell

@Bert

You're gonna stump me on the Linux questions for right now because, frankly, I haven't gotten a chance to PoC the Linux stuff for myself. So anything I talk about will be merely my best guess based on experience. I'm attending an internal field event this week and will have LOTS more info to share in the coming days, so stay tuned!

That little disclaimer out of the way, I do have lots of experience with Oracle + Linux. From what I know, Linux is perfectly happy with "write-suspends" (via VMware snapshot) and the internal applications can be quiesced within their own mechanisms (i.e. Oracle "hot backup mode"). So, if you wanted to backup an entire Oracle DB, and a the Linux VM carrying it, SnapProtect would 'hot backup mode' the DB via the iDataAgent, quiesce the VM with a VMware snapshot, trigger the snap on the NetApp filer, remove the VMware snapshot, take Oracle out of hot backup mode. This is all very similar to how SnapManager for Oracle operates, but what you gain is backup of the WHOLE VM, not just the Oracle DB. Since the DB was in hot backup mode at the time the VM was quiesced, you get a defacto point-in-time recover point of the VM, the DB, or both.

Bert

@Nick

Thanks once again, I am clear on the linux side for now, but how about the restores?
Lets say I have a couple of NFS datastores which get backed up with snapprotect, if I want to restore VMs on these datastores, will I be able to pick the VMs from the restore interface or will I only be able to restore specific directories/files? (in both cases from a certain point in time)

CDM

What happens to NetApp/Syncsort Integrated Backup? Is it dead?

Marcus

I enjoyed reading your piece

I did a bit of follow up and got some feedback from CV, hope you don’t mind me sending this to you.

From CV:

- For SM / SV functionality CV absolutely require DFM.
- There are caveats on vCloud Director that people need to be aware of.
- vFiler support is via vFiler0 only (not via the IP nodes) which has an impact on secure multi-tenancy environments
- Xen is not supported by SPE

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