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Part 1:  Disk-to-Disk backup

It's not very often you hear the terms Storage Efficiency and data protection in the same sentence.  Typically, when implementing a data protection (Backup and Recovery or Disaster Recovery) solution, the end result is multiple copies of your data (most of them full copies).  NetApp has the ability to solve this problem using our data replication technologies.  Given the efficient snapshot technology implemented in Data ONTAP, it's quite simple to extend the exact some functionality to our data replication solutions.  For part 1 of this series, I will focus on the backup and recovery side of the solution.


By leveraging NetApp snapshot technology, data is replicated at the block level.  This is one of the main selling features for NetApp data protection solutions.  With the addition of NetApp deduplication, the amount of storage is reduced even more.  Depending on how you look at it, the NetApp data protection solutions have been employing deduplication for years, mainly because the data isn't duplicated to begin with.  All of NetApp replication technologies are similar to the snapshot technologies in that we only need to protect changed blocks.  Only those changed blocks are replicated and stored on disk. When implementing a disk-to-disk backup, the advantages are much easier to see. 


The old paradigm of weekly fulls and daily incrementals is completely eliminated with NetApp SnapVault or Open Systems SnapVault solutions.  NetApp SnapVault technology allows for different snapshot retention schedules at both the primary and secondary sites.  This configuration can allow for a longer retention period on the secondary storage system.  Another advantage of a SnapVault solution is that it's logical replication, so the hardware for both the primary and secondary systems can be different.  This allows for consolidation from multiple primary systems to potentially one backup system.


To extend this solution even further, as mentioned above, deduplication can be leveraged in a SnapVault environment.  Since the data is replicated at the qtree level with SnapVault, multiple qtrees (from different source systems or different volumes) can be replicated into 1 destination volume, increasing the likelihood of duplicate data (thus reducing the required storage even more).  After the data is now on a centralized system, the data can then be written to tape or replicated to another system with SnapMirror (if off-site copies are required).  If the data is replicated with SnapMirror (see figure below), then only the unique data is replicated and stored on disk.  This will result in bandwidth and storage savings for the off-site backup data.


If tape is still in the SLAs for this solution, then the tape creation can shift from the primary storage system (or clients) to the secondary storage system.  This will allow the primary system to worry about serving out primary data while the secondary system can be utilized to create tapes - more than likely on a less frequent basis.  The existing tape infrastructure can be repurposed from within the data center (and potentially eliminated in the remote offices) to meet this need, reducing the need to purchase more tape infrastructure.


By combining all the correct pieces, it's very possible to achieve a very efficient backup and recovery solution.  We see customers gain a tremendous amount of money and time back into their business when transitioning to this type of solution from a tape solution.  In addition to these benefits, customers can also leverage their backup data to do more.  One way of achieving this would be utilizing NetApp FlexClone, similar to the way Sealy has implemented this solution. 


Does this all sound like a good solution?  What if NetApp isn't the primary storage?  No problem.  Open Systems SnapVault can leverage the exact same benefits, allowing data from any Windows, UNIX, Linux or ESX server or data from on non-NetApp primary storage to be replicated to a NetApp system.  The OSSV agent is a simple lightweight agent that leverages the exact same block level increment (or BLI) technology that SnapVault leverages.   This will provide the ability for almost all NetApp and non-NetApp storage to replicate to a SnapVault secondary storage system. 


Jeremy Merrill
Technical Marketing Engineer - Data Protection Solutions
NetApp Storage Efficiency Community
Twitter: JeremyMerrill


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