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SnapCenter Functionality

I am in the process of trying to get SnapCenter working (and what a fun journey that is!). Despite being far along in the process, I still have some questions about what SnapCenter is doing. Below are my questions; if anyone if willing to take a crack at them it would be very appreciated. I am seeking answers that are simple and avoid a lot of NetApp specific terminology. (Caveat: Everything in the environment is virtual machines. We are only backing up VM's and it is all local. All NFS. VCSA 6.0u3 + SnapCenter 3.0.)

 

  1. Where is the data stored? You set up your resource groups, policies and connection to the SVMs. So, where are the actual backups stored? Are there individual snapshots for each server in an SVM? very confused on this point. 
  2. What happens to NetApp snapshots? When the NetApp installers came we set up local snapshot policies on the NetApp as a stop gap solution. With SnapCenter being stood up, do we need to remove those old policies? Are they redundant? SnapCenter does not seem to 'see' them (as far as I can tell).  
  3. Is it better to setup the Snapmirror policies with SnapCenter or in NetApp System Manager? What is this difference?
  4. How come SnapCenter doesn't seem to 'see' anything that has been set up in system manager? Is this by design or am i doing something wrong? (Thinking about the snapshots, snapmirrors, and snapvaults that are already in place) 
  5. How come, without resource groups, when I back something up in SnapCenter, I can see/restore from SnapCenter but vSphere doesn't see them. 

 

That's it for now. Overall feeling on the product is that it is not really convenient for people who are not NetApp professionals. We are a very small shop and as the sole ‘systems engineer’ products like this that have a higher learning curve are more difficult to integrate and use.  I think making the install easier and more guided, combined with a simple run down of what the heck SnapCenter does (from a logical, no acronyms, nothing specific sense) would be very helpful. (What I mean is that, after 2-3 weeks of diving through documentation and trying to setup SnapCenter, I couldn’t give you a simple explanation of how it works and too me, that is bad.)

 

Thanks for any help!

Re: SnapCenter Functionality

Looks like you might benefit from talking with your account team and setting up a disucssion with the SnapCenter product team.

 

I'll see if I can help answer some of your questions:

 

  1. Where is the data stored? You set up your resource groups, policies and connection to the SVMs. So, where are the actual backups stored? Are there individual snapshots for each server in an SVM? very confused on this point.    
    • The backups are Snapshots of the volume that you are protecting with SnapCenter.  The objects that you are creating (resource groups, policies, storage connections) are created in the SnapCenter database which is on the same Server as the SnapCenter Server.  That is why we do recommend deploying in a HA fashion.  When you take a Snapshot copy using SnapCenter the information about that Snapshot is stored in the SnapCenter metadata.  This metadata information is critical for restore, recovery, and cloning operations.
  2. What happens to NetApp snapshots? When the NetApp installers came we set up local snapshot policies on the NetApp as a stop gap solution. With SnapCenter being stood up, do we need to remove those old policies? Are they redundant? SnapCenter does not seem to 'see' them (as far as I can tell).  
    • SnapCenter has its own Snapshot policies that you create when you protect databases, resource groups, or file systems in SnapCenter.  These schedules are on SnapCenter or on the remote plug-in host (depending on the plug-in type) and not on ONTAP.  Any existing Snapshot schedules on the ONTAP side should be disabled otherwise you will consume more Snapshots that you might expect.  SnapCenter handles Snapshot retention on the primary and ONTAP handles Snapshot retention on the secondary based on the specified Snapshot (SnapMirror) label.
  3. Is it better to setup the Snapmirror policies with SnapCenter or in NetApp System Manager? What is this difference?
    • SnapMirror policies are seperate from the SnapCenter policies.  Since you are backing up VMs you will need to create the secondary volumes and SnapMirror policies and intialize the relationship outside of SnapCenter.  SnapCenter doesn't do this for you (the exception is for NAS file services which used an Advanced license to enable this functionality).
  4. How come SnapCenter doesn't seem to 'see' anything that has been set up in system manager? Is this by design or am i doing something wrong? (Thinking about the snapshots, snapmirrors, and snapvaults that are already in place) 
    • Existing Snapshot copies were created outside of SnapCenter and SnapCenter does not know about the them.  Existing SnapMirror and SnapVault relationships are used, but not the data that is transferred to the secondary outside of SnapCenter.
  5. How come, without resource groups, when I back something up in SnapCenter, I can see/restore from SnapCenter but vSphere doesn't see them. 
    • Not clear on this question.  SnapCenter 3.0 requires resource groups to backup VMs or Datastores.  Are you backing up something like SQL data that happens also to be on a VM?  If so you would see the database backup information from inside SnapCenter.  vSphere wouldn't see this data as this isn't a VM level backup - it would be an application level backup.

Hope this helps,

John

 

Re: SnapCenter Functionality

This was very helpful! I esspecially did not realize that snapcenter created new snapshots.

Re: SnapCenter Functionality

I got the SnapCenter Vmware Plugin setup like I want (backing up whole datastores so I don't have to worry my admins don't add new servers to backups). I get how to mount a volume for file restore and how to restore a VM. BUT, how can I restore a VM and NOT OVERWRITE the existing? What I want to make it a new machine? 

 

Thanks!

Ross

Re: SnapCenter Functionality

Ross,

 

I checked with engineering and the Plug-in for VMware does not have the capability to restore to an alternate VM or clone a VM.

 

John