Getting Started with Snap Creator

Getting Started with Snap Creator

 

With the recent release of Snap Creator 4.0 I thought I’d put together a few notes on Snap Creator and how to get started.

We’ll address why you might want to use Snap Creator, how to install and configure, and how to create a profile and configuration file.

I won’t explicitly walk through all of these steps, but I’ll point to resources that are available to help you get full details.

 

Why Use Snap Creator?

The NetApp Snap Creator Framework is an extensible framework.  Snap Creator is a single pane of glass that you can use to centrally schedule actions, monitor jobs and agents, view reports, and more.  We have both a GUI (Graphical User Interface) and a CLI (Command Line Interface) for ease of use.  We also offer extensive APIs for other products such as cloud portals or orchestration tools to call Snap Creator (our own GUI and CLI and PowerShell module use these APIs exclusively). 

 

Since Snap Creator is a Framework, this means that Snap Creator can handle all of the typical NetApp functions such as Snapshot copies, SnapVault or SnapMirror update, OnCommand integration, SnapRestore operations, and more using a known, repeatable, yet flexible process.

We can also call any kind of custom script throughout the flow of Snap Creator. 

For example we can call a PRE_APP_QUIESCE command - this is a command or script that you define that will run before you quiesce an application. 

There are about a dozen different commands you can enter throughout the flow of Snap Creator, and each command can either call a script or run up to 99 different commands.

 

Snap Creator also has plug-ins - these allow Snap Creator to integrate with different hypervisors, applications, and databases.  Snap Creator ships with 11 pre-packaged and supported plug-ins. More plug-ins are available on the Snap Creator community website: www.snapcreator.com

Plug-ins generally handles putting applications, databases, or virtual machines into a consistent state.  Once consistency is achieved Snap Creator can take a Snapshot copy and the application, database, or hypervisor is returned to a normal state as quickly as possible.

 

Long story short - If you have a need to centrally manage, monitor, and schedule jobs in an environment with multiple hypervisors, operating systems, applications, and databases then check out the Snap Creator Framework!

 

How to Install Snap Creator

Installing Snap Creator is pretty easy and fast.

First we should explain the components:

 

  • Snap Creator Server - The Snap Creator Server can be installed on a central backup server or directly where an application or database is installed.  This can be an already existing server in the environment and does not need to be dedicated to Snap Creator.  The server processor and memory usage is pretty minimal - we haven’t really been able to define minimum requirements as a result.  In the 3.6 version of Snap Creator we defined the memory utilization as 256 MB, so hopefully you have about that to spare.  The Snap Creator Server handles communication with NetApp storage and with optional components like OnCommand.  Any RBAC (Role Based Access Control) users and roles are defined on the server and schedules, jobs, and logs are stored here. 
  • Snap Creator Agent - The Snap Creator Agent should be installed on the same host as an application or database that you wish to manage.  In small environments or for POCs (Proof of Concepts) this can be the same host as the Snap Creator Server.  The Server and Agent can be installed on the same host without problem, but you will need to have in agent present in order to use a plug-in. The agent itself contains the plug-ins and will communicate with an application or database.  If you configure Snap Creator to use SnapDrive the SnapDrive communications will also be driven through the agent.  Like the Snap Creator Server the Agent’s processor and memory usage is minimal.  In 3.6 we defined the agent requirements as 64 MB.

 

Pre-requisites:

There are a few pre-requisites for using Snap Creator. They are:

 

  • The Snap Creator Server requires Java - version 1.6 or greater.

The installed version of Java should be the same bit-level as Snap Creator. 

For example, if you are running 64-bit Windows with 64-bit Snap Creator, then you need 64-bit Java.

I specifically point out Windows because we’ve noted on several occasions that the Java install defaults to the 32-bit install, even on 64-bit systems.

If the bit levels do not match, the Snap Creator server will not start!

  • If you are using Clustered Data ONTAP, your Storage Virtual Machines (also known as vServers) will need a management lif in order for Snap Creator to communicate.
  • It is also recommended to create a Data ONTAP role and user specifically for the use of Snap Creator.  Instructions on creating these accounts are listed in the Snap Creator Installation and Administration Guide.

 

Installing:

The actual steps for installing are well detailed in videos here on the Snap Creator Communities or in our YouTube channel, SnapCreatorTV - http://www.youtube.com/SnapCreatorTV

 

Upgrading:

If you are upgrading an existing Snap Creator 3.x environment to Snap Creator 4.0 we also have a few upgrade videos available.

Please note that you will need to upgrade both the Snap Creator Server and the Snap Creator Agents - due to all of the changes that occurred the 3.x agents will not work with the 4.0 server and vice-versa.

 

Using Snap Creator Framework

 

Once the Snap Creator install is complete the next step is to create profiles and configuration files.

 

Let’s take a few minutes and explore what these are.

Profiles

Profiles are just folders.  Picture a manila folder that you likely have in your file cabinet.  Like these folders a profile’s primary purpose is organization.

Instead of organizing paper like bills or receipts, our profiles organize configuration files (which we’ll explain more in a moment).

You can create any organization method that makes sense to you - for example you could create profiles for each department or you could create profiles for each application or database.

In a multi-tenant or service provider environment you would likely organize profiles by tenant name.

The other important thing to understand about profiles is that we can enforce RBAC at the profile level.

This means that we can create a profile for a tenant named YourCo.  We can then create a user for YourCo and assign them the YourCo profile.  That user would only be able to access and act upon the YourCo profile - he or she would not even know about other profiles.

You can have as many profiles as you want or need.

 

Configuration Files

Configuration Files are files that control the behavior of Snap Creator.  As mentioned above, they are sorted into profiles.

The configuration (config) files detail an individual environment that Snap Creator can act upon.  For example, if you have a DB2 server named Zeus you can create a profile named DB2 and a config file named Zeus.

That config file will detail what storage system Zeus uses, what the credentials are, what volumes are used by Zeus, what the Snapshot copy behavior will be (use the _recent or the timestamp convention) and what the retention policy will be, does there need to be SnapMirror or SnapVault updates performed on any of the volumes, are there any custom scripts or commands that need to be run, and what are the details about the database so we can put it into a consistent state.

All this and more is stored in the config file.

You can also have as many configuration files as you want or need.

 

There is also a special type of configuration file called a global configuration file.  This can be used to specify specific parameters at either a global or a profile level.

We’ll address global configuration files more in a future post.

 

Creating Profiles and Configuration Files

Profiles and Configuration files can be created through either the GUI or the CLI.

Using the CLI is a manual process - the steps are detailed in the Installation and Administration Guide.

Using the GUI is much simpler as there is button to create profiles and a Snap Creator Configuration Wizard that walks the user through the most common options when creating a configuration file.

If you create a new profile you are automatically prompted with the configuration wizard.

You can also upload and download configuration files using the right-click action.

 

There is a video on creating a configuration file in the GUI:

 

Once you have a configuration file created you are ready to take actions such as backup, cloning and restore.

Simply select a configuration file then click the Actions button and make your selection.

 

Hopefully this will help get you started using the NetApp Snap Creator Framework - Please let us know if you have any questions!