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Guest author: Don Foster, PM Director – Data Protection, CommVault

With virtualization technologies acting as the driving force for service provider and cloud environments, it is key to continue innovating and integrating the software and hardware layers for improved protection, and more importantly recovery. Through continued innovations to the industry leading NetApp SnapProtect technology, derived from CommVault IntelliSnap, NetApp and CommVault are providing customers with seamless integration for supporting these environments.  For example, new capabilities have been added to NetApp SnapProtect (SP6a release) to facilitate improved performance for Virtual Machine configurations with VMware. SnapProtect now has the ability to bypass application quiescing for Virtual Machine configurations where this operation is not necessary, improving the scale and performance of the snapshot execution for large VM datasets. Additionally, NetApp and CommVault have deepened the integration between Single File SnapRestore and the Virtual Server Agent on NFS storage.


One of the beauties of the NetApp storage capabilities is that customers can choose where to store their Virtual Machines.  This also means Virtual Machine data stores have become increasingly dense–a benefit to the customer as great deduplication savings can be achieved in these configurations.  However, this consolidation effort does bring a quick pause to how the data is protected.   Enter NetApp Snapshot technology, the only feasible way to quickly capture each of these Virtual Machines at a consistent point in time—consistent being the operative word.   Crash consistency certainly doesn’t offer any organization peace of mind when it comes to disaster recovery; after all, in the words of Forrest Gump, “you never know what you’re gonna get.”


SnapProtect solves that issue because it calls the appropriate VMware APIs to quiesce each VM. It also possesses the intelligence to go inside each VM and ensure any Microsoft Windows applications are properly quiesced, before the Snapshot copy is taken. If you’re thinking it could be a bit cumbersome to sequence each VM in this manner, you’re right.   However, SnapProtect now provides customers with the option to enable or disable this capability. So, if a dense data store of VMs without applications are on your storage, you can bypass the sequencing to call the VSS writers inside each guest. This drastically improve the scale and performance of generating the VM consistent hardware Snapshot copies in the NetApp array.  Large scale VM environments now have the improved protection capabilities, but how about restore? I am glad you asked.




When customers begin to evaluate a solution to protect their data, recovery performance is always high on the priority list.  NetApp recently discussed the benefits of a NetApp-unique feature called Single File SnapRestore (SFSR).  This feature can quickly revert directly in the production volume data for recovery without copying data from a source Snapshot; it can then execute the IOPs to write that data to the target volume for an incredibly significant performance benefit. This capability has been added to SnapProtect, with the Virtual Server Agent, and has also been extended to NFS data store configurations.  So, as your VMs get larger, and the number of VMs stored on the NetApp array become more dense, the ability to bring a single VM back to a point-in-time, without impacting the entire storage configuration for the active VMs in the data store, is no longer simply a “nice to have.”  Now, regardless of your storage configuration, these advanced recovery capabilities are directly linked in with SnapProtect’s automated API calls for recovering single or multiple VMs from a point-in-time. 


If you think increasingly aggressive SLAs are causing you headaches now, it’s only going to get worse as your organization continues to generate massive amounts of data.  A simple integrated function between the advanced capabilities of a storage platform and the software products driving data protection is the new requirement to meet today’s business goals. With NetApp SnapProtect, you’ll get faster protection operations and faster recovery methods all in a single automated process operated from a single console.   Sounds like some extra strength Advil for that headache!


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