Storevault benefits in non-Netapp environment?

[ Edited ]

I'm looking at Netapp/Storevault initially as a block of storage for a very basic recovery mirror/site where the intention is to have a copy of all our data so that in the event of us losing our primary location we have our data available quicker than a box of tapes can provide.

In our primary location we have a FC SAN (non-netapp) which isn't going anywhere for a couple of years.

The DR location is actually on the same site, but a distance away, and is on the end of a multi-gbps LAN link.

I believe Storevault's come as standard with client software that sits on your file servers, which don't have to have their storage on a Netapp (i.e. in our main server room which has the FC SAN), and will snapshot to the Netapp every X minutes/hours?

Apparently these are available for Exchange and SQL as well?

I guess I'm asking a pretty broad question, but I'm trying to ascertain how Netapp might benefit us in our situation vs. sticking in a bunch of dumber basic iSCSI storage and looking at (for example) replication software from another vendor, and would appreciate any input.

Re: Storevault benefits in non-Netapp environment?

The host-based product you are referring to is OSSV (Open Systems SnapVault) and is used commonly to take disk to disk backups of 3rd party local disks (or SAN attached, but usually DAS).

The products for Exchange and SQL are called SnapManager for <product> and they assume the data is primarily stored on NetApp. They include migration tools to move the data to NetApp, but then they give you a very nice, application-aware interface to take backups and restore the data. But they are based on ONTAP Snapshot technology.

Both are very nice products (yes, I'm probably biased, but I'll let the community chime in on this) and can bring value to your storage environment by allowing enabling disk-based backups for both applications as well as unstrcutured data on other open systems.

Hope this helps. If nothing else when you talk to you NetApp team or partner you can help guide the discussion.

Re: Storevault benefits in non-Netapp environment?

Thanks for the reply Adam.

So, if I understand correctly, OSSV is "bundled" and sits on our existing main file server, and backs up to the Netapp? How does it do this please, for example (and sorry but I'm simply not familiar with exactly how Netapp do things) do I have to assign an iSCSI LUN to my file server, or does the file server talk to the Netapp using a proprietary protocol?

If I used OSSV is the copy on the Storevault available to access directly via the Storevaul (should we lose our primary location) or is it held in a proprietary format where it would still need to be restored to a Windows server to be accessed?

Also with regards to SnapManager you say they "assume the data is primarily stored on NetApp" - is that merely an assumption or a requirement, because in our case of course it isn't, and I wouldn't want to consider moving an existing Exchange install from a bunch of fast local SAS discs on an FC SAN to slower SATA discs on the end of a (OK maybe in in real world use) slower iSCSI link.

We use Commvault for backups and I should stress that I'm not (unless I've missed a trick) planning on changing our backup regime, it just seems the StoreVault boxes may offer a neater way of having a snapshot backup available vs. last nights tape backup etc.

Re: Storevault benefits in non-Netapp environment?

The storage side of OSSV is, I suppose, bundled with ONTAP, but all features are in the kernel. They are activated by license keys. OSSV has client side agents to take a local filesystem consistent snapshot and handle the transfer of the data to the NetApp. You don't need to set up a LUN, rather just a volume within an aggregate to store the data. OSSV uses the NDMP protocol to transfer the data (that's one of the reasons why you have a host-side agent).

The SnapManager product do require the data to be stored primarily on NetApp because they take advantage of WAFL snapshot and restore technologies that do no exist on other filesystems. Keep in mind that while StoreVault (or now the S-Series) is a SATA solution, there are many other NetApp solutions that use SAS and FC disks.

As far using CommVault. That's fine if you want to use CommVault to back up your data. I believe CommVault can be integrated to work with OSSV to enable disk to disk backup. You may still be able to do d2d backup without the integration, but it's good to know it's there. Talking with your local NetApp team about this should help figure out if that solution is right for you (I don't have any Commvault in my patch, so I'm not well-versed on the specific benefits, but I have read that there is integration of CommValut with NetApp products).

Re: Storevault benefits in non-Netapp environment?

Guys - you are on the right track but let me make a few clarifications.

1. OSSV is an agent that copies data from a 3rd-partyOS to a Data ONTAP system. It requires the SnapVault Secondary license which is not currently supported on the S Family products, though we have plans.

2. Since this is a non-NetApp SAN, you'll need to move the data from the LUNs to a general-purpose server (probably your CommVault system) to get it over to the S550. If it were a NetApp SAN we're working on allowing SnapMirror to simply replicate the LUN to another NetApp system as a target - block-level copies with no host involved.

I think using an S550 as a DR target is a very cost effective solution. You could use CommVault over NDMP, iSCSI or even CIFS or NFS to grab from the SAN and push data to the S550. Once it is on the S550, snapshot that data if you want archives. Simple, cost effective and you get to keep 255 archives per volume in a fraction of the space of tape - which a normal iSCSI SAN product cannot do.


Re: Storevault benefits in non-Netapp environment?

Thanks Drew, I'm still not up to speed on the Netapp/S terminology so could you do me a huge favour and break that down into a bit more generic terms please?

At present I have an FC SAN (Clariion AX4) which has LUN's assigned to our physical boxes i.e. SERVER1 sees LUN1 and has it assigned locally as E: etc.

I want to replicate what's on it (not real-time necessarily) to a box at a remote location, there's a multi-gbps LAN link between the two locations.

If I put an S550 in that location, what do I do/need in terms of licenses/software?

Ditto Exchange, we actually run that as a VM on ESX, the LUNs that ESX uses are also on the AX4 so one option may be to do something at ESX level, or at the VM OS level i.e. within the Windows 2003 Exchange Server VM, but you suggest that isn't possible with the S?

Re: S Family benefits in non-Netapp environment?

Paul - no problem, let me break it down more precicely for your situation. Answer a few more questions and I can have you covered.

First, are the LUNs on the AX4 being used for file sharing from the hosts or for applications (Exchange, SQL)?

Secondly, are the Exchange LUNs on this same AX4?

You don't need any special licenses on your S550 besides a file protocol for your systems (CIFS or NFS, depending on if you have Windows or UNIX/Linux (or both)). Just point CommVault from the hosts to a share/export on the S550 and you can copy your file data. For the VMs, you'll need a CommVault agent for Exchange and you can do the same thing. All of this activity is taking place on the hosts. The S550 in this case is just a target for CommVault and can be connected using nearly any protocol you need.

I know you aren't ready to replace that EMC box but let me tell you why other customers have been so pleased with NetApp .With Data ONTAP, you can store both file and LUN data on the same system at the same time, so you actually get rid of the file servers that are front-ending the first set of LUNs. That simplifies things in a lot of ways. First, you've eliminated management for those systems (patches, licenses, upgrades and agents). Secondly, the leading power cost in the datacenteris older Windows systems, so you've lowered your power costs. Third, NetApp thin provisioning can be applied to your shares/exports, letting you buy less disk up front and use what you have more efficiently. Fourth, when you get into backup, you are only managing one set of jobs in one place because the storage system is smart enough to handle snapshots for both file or block data (shares or LUNs) and you can replicate directly between storage devices without using a host. Then you look into deduplication and long-term archiving with snapshots on both the source and the target and the possibilities get very exciting.

That's all maybe more than you asked for - but I hope it helps


Re: S Family benefits in non-Netapp environment?

Thanks Drew,

The LUNs on the AX4 are assigned:

DIrectly to our main file server

Directly to a pair of boxes running ESX (shared storage), one of which is our Exchange box - we have dedicated fast SAS spindles solely for Exchange, and additional SAS spindles for "general purpose" VM's.

As of right now, as I said the AX4 isn't going anywhere, and to be fair we've been delighted with it, but when it comes to replication it's a little limited hence I'm trying to work out the best/right way of replicating the data I want a "nearly live" copy of at the other end of our site.

When you say "Just point CommVault from the hosts to a share/export on the S550 and you can copy your file data. For the VMs, you'll need a CommVault agent for Exchange and you can do the same thing." which agent are you talking about please, is it a general Continuous Data Replicator license or something specific between Commvault and Netapp?

Oh, and if the StoreVault does CIFS how does it handle permissions? We're pretty heavily entrenched in NTFS permissions using Active Directory security groups.

Thanks again.

Re: S Family benefits in non-Netapp environment?


OK, easy things first. The S family integrates direclty into an ActiveDirectory environment because it is a full-fledged file server using the CIFS protocol. It looks like Windows shares to your clients and you will be able to assign permissions to your existing users and groups.

The agent I spoke of is a CommVault agent. It would be installed on the Exchange VM and would let the VM behave just like a physical machine, closing files, backing up open ones and neatly capturing the data. Then CommVault wouldmove that data over to a network share on the S550 and store it as a CommVault backup file.Pros: very simple and familiar to do. Cons: might cost more for the agent if you don't have it, and the restore depends on CommVault being present.BTW, you could do this with any Windows machine - there's nothing unique to NetApp in this scenario.

Once you've got the data on an NetApp system, you can replicate the backups to an offsite location for security. No more tape! This would require another NetApp device in the second location.

Alternatively, you might considre using NDMP to move the backups from the S550 off to a tape drive for archive. CommVault has very good support for this too but I think it is an additional licensed feature from them.