By Ron LaPedis, Security Solutions Marketing Manager, NetApp
Net2Vault, an enterprise-class cloud backup and disaster recovery firm, has been running a new service in stealth mode for a few months and finally went public with it in this press release, followed up with a customer disaster recovery success story here. In a nutshell, they are running NetApp storage arrays in SunGard data centers and selling data backup and disaster recovery services solely to NetApp customers.
Now you may think that it is crazy to limit your company to serving customers that only use one brand of storage array, but it’s crazy like a fox. You see, only NetApp offers a combination of the write anywhere file layout (WAFL), primary storage deduplication and compression, thin provisioning, and storage-efficient snapshots that are made up of mostly air.
Unlike the competition, when a NetApp customer takes a volume snapshot, only a block of pointers is created that point to the actual data. If the user changes a block of data on the “live” copy of the volume, WAFL writes a new block and updates the live pointers while leaving the snapshot pointers alone. Take 100 snapshots and all you have are 100 sets of pointers.
To back up a NetApp storage array, you move your snapshots to another storage array. In this case, the backup storage array belongs to Net2Vault. The first time that a snapshot is moved to Net2Vault, all of the data in the snapshot copy needs to be copied, but since the data in a snapshot is unchanging, you don’t need to worry that data changed “behind” you. In some systems, while you are moving block 60, changes might be made to block 50 that relate to changes made in block 70. You will have the new block 70 but the old block 50 and that gives you a corrupt disk copy. Since a NetApp snapshot copy takes almost no time to make and the blocks are frozen in time, this is not an issue.
But let’s get back to our story. Once the initial snapshot is copied to Net2Vault, subsequent copies are pointers and changed data – and on most storage arrays, data is read much more often than it is updated. Because up to 255 snapshot copies can be taken per volume and take very little space, Net2Vault can store a year’s worth of backup in very little space, passing the savings on to their customers. You can learn more about the NetApp technologies being used by Net2Vault and how they are saving money for their customers here.