NetApp's Tips for Choosing the Right Backup Technology

When people think of NetApp, they usually think "primary storage." While that's true, NetApp offers a range of disk-based backup solutions, including two hardware options: VTL and FAS storage systems; and our replication-based backup solution, NetApp SnapVault. Over 60% of Fortune 100 companies use NetApp for long-term data protection; we have thousands of backup and recovery installations in environments that range from large data centers to small remote offices with limited IT staff.

Check out David's full article for details on common challenges, different technologies that address them, and tips of when to choose specific solutions.

Do you use disk-based backup today? If so, what types of environments are you protecting and which technologies are you leveraging?

Re: NetApp's Tips for Choosing the Right Backup Technology

Hi Friea,

We use today a combination of snapvault, snapmirror, snapshots and tape backup.

  • Snapvault: for backup of tier1 storage (expensive storage): exchange, SQL-server, ...

  • snapmirror and snapshots (4 month): for backup of tier2 and tier3 (office data, mail archive, ...)

  • Tape for very large, never changing, data sets (PACS (digital radiology)) and for the snapvault destinations

We try to eliminate tape as much as possible.


Re: NetApp's Tips for Choosing the Right Backup Technology


The Backup strategy is the one which is depend on Customer's application availability requirement and budget too!!!!!! I accept that the solutions you mention can be suggested to customer .But I feel that we need to drive more in giving the right solution to the customer's requirement and SLA compliances.

Re: NetApp's Tips for Choosing the Right Backup Technology

You are absolutely on target. A customer's decision is based on a number of factors such as pain points, goals initiative and objectives.

Not to sound like "the old man of storage", but I've been on the consulting side for about 15 years and prior to that I was managing mid to large size data centers for about 5 or 6 years. As a result, I have learned quite a bit about data protection. Years ago we (backup admin staff) would feel the burden of protecting ALL the data ALL the time. This worked fine until we began to experience this exponential data that point customers were faced missed backup windows, overrun into production hours, etc.

To your point, when I am asked to speak at events I always ask the question "how many of you have SLA's with your internal customers?" Surprisingly the average has remained relatively flat with a slight bump in the last couple of years. My follow up for those who haven't raised their hands is "for those of you who haven't raised your hands, the reality is that you DO have an SLA - it is ASAP, or EVERYTHING"

Understanding what drives a customer is of the utmost importance, and the place to begin is identifying the formal SLA. Unfortunately I believe the majority of customers either don't have formal SLA's or very broad SLA's because the daunting task of identifying the importance of the data. I co-authored a book back in 2003 where I included two of my consulting deliverables in the appendix, Disaster Recovery Planning Kit and Business Continuity Planning Kit. The later offers a very nice (IMHO) guideline for how to identify what should be protected, how, cost of loss, etc.

At a high level I believe there are three type of data

1. Mission Critical

2. Critical

3. Deferred

Mission Critical is exactly that - data that has the most impact if a customer is unable to access this data for a predetermined amount of time and therefore requires the highest degree of attention for protection, but more importantly recovery of that data within predetermined times.

Critical data may be those data sets that are important to the function of the business but perhaps it is not going to adversely affect the company's viability if recovered within a longer predetermined amount of time.

Deferred Data - really that's the data which really isn't going to make or break the company's line of business, therefore it may require yet a different method or approach for protection and recovery.

All of these play a role in helping the customer select the correct solution (which may vary depending on cost v. benefit analysis) which meets their needs and the best way to identify those goals and objectives is by starting with what the customer's SLA states (either explicitly or implicitly).

David A. Chapa

Re: NetApp's Tips for Choosing the Right Backup Technology


WOW !!! Your inputs are more practical!!!!!!!!!!!! I certainly agree. We can conclude this discussion as

1) Backup Strategy is an important factor that customer need to decide ,We as a consultant can give the best possiblities available with us

2) SLA needs to get clearly defined by customer in complaince with the driving business. Customer needs to enforce things internally

3) NetApp is one of the leaders for delivering end to end data protection and retention solutions for all its customers at the best

Have a Good Day and its nice to have a good discussion with you all !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank You,

Re: NetApp's Tips for Choosing the Right Backup Technology

(Responding to Dave Chapa's SLA rant)

SLA's are a must have.

I have been in shops with no formal SLAs. If you inquired about RTOs, RPOs, etc, the answer was either "don't care/don't know" or "I need my oh so important pictures from my April 2003 trip to see the largest Cheeto in Iowa in 1 second (RTO) with any updates from 30seconds ago (RPO)."

I am currently with a group that has formal SLAs with the data owners. While that can cause great moments of heartburn, it helps for a few reasons:

  1. You always know if you are in compliance
  2. When new data protection mousetraps come out, you can better determine if they are a good fit based on you current SLA compliance
  3. If you need the new mousetrap to stay in compliance (perhaps the amount of data has grown or changed, etc), it really cuts arguments short-"Do you want to maintain compliant with our SLA?"

3a. You'll either get what you need, or the SLA will be made less stringent

To conclude, I agree with what has been said above this posting; so much so that I think that they all say basically the same thing: Better requirements, better agreements equals better solutions.

By the way: The largest Cheeto in Iowa is real. Google it!


Re: NetApp's Tips for Choosing the Right Backup Technology

C'mon Tony, fess up ... those are *your* pics of the world's largest cheeto, aren't they??

(btw ... sorry Somasundaram!! didn't realize I only have two "helpful answer" points and planned to give you one too.)

Re: NetApp's Tips for Choosing the Right Backup Technology

Hi Somasundaram, David, Friea and Tony..thanks everyone for sharing such useful information...though I am from a IT background, but I am new to NetApp's. Just getting into the concepts and market requirements...i am a consultant based in Africa...thats about!!


Re: NetApp's Tips for Choosing the Right Backup Technology

Hi Freia,

Good Day.

In the next few weeks or days, we will be implementing Snapvault in Cebu Philippines IT Shop since we just finished consolidating our storage. All our data already in a FAS3070C with a combination of CIFS, NFS and iSCSI. We will use existing FAS3020 (beforefor Snapvault, we populate with 3x1TB SATA shelve the FAS3020 with old 2 x 250GB SATA, this is just our first phase in implementing backup to disk since we only have limited resources (disk capacity) in our secondary storage. The main reason we will implement secondary storage is to offload backup from our primary storage, with this it will cuts our backup window.

Also, we have existing snapmirror to our lexington IT shop for our DR and we will also do a snapmirror to our manufacturing plant in Mactan Island in Cebu.



Re: NetApp's Tips for Choosing the Right Backup Technology

Hi Antoni! Thanks for sharing these details, and congrats on your upcoming deployment. if you don't mind sharing, what types of backup schedules are you implimenting? Are you using A-sis on the secondary storage since capacity is an issue?