Data protection is top-of-mind for organizations in today’s ever-evolving technology landscape. Every datacenter management team strategizes and institutes a robust backup and disaster recovery plan to meet contingencies that cause downtime and data loss and disrupt business continuity. And this strategy includes considering the right tools and processes for backup and recovery.
The objective of a data backup, replication and disaster recovery solution is to restore business services with near-zero RTO. This is only possible when the data protection and management solution is highly reliable, efficient, secure, and flexible to support the business requirements and evolving infrastructure in the organization.
In environments where there is a mixed breed of storage hardware powering virtualized application workloads, ensuring fast and seamless backup is particularly challenging. IT organizations are moving from legacy backup and replication systems to more modern and sophisticated solutions, such as Veeam, to benefit from intelligent data management features that allow IT teams to achieve greater flexibility and increased ROI.
How Veeam Accelerates Backup Operations
Veeam is a popular solution used by thousands of IT organizations to backup virtual machine (VM) snapshots in VMware environments. To make the backing up of VM snapshots faster and simpler, Veeam has developed the Universal Storage API , which is a plug-in specification that allows storage vendors to integrate with Veeam Backup & Replication to create storage snapshots and then back them up more efficiently.
What is the difference between a VM snapshot and a storage snapshot?
A VM snapshot is a point-in-time copy of the virtual machine, which allows rolling back to a previous known state of the VM. This is helpful when restoring data during disaster recovery or even just backing up different states of the VM and its data for analytics and testing.
A VMware VM snapshot is comprised of 4 things:
- .vmdk flat file which contains the raw data in the disk
- -delta.vmdk file which contains the difference between the current state of the virtual disk and the state that existed when the previous snapshot was taken
- .vmsd database file which holds the snapshot information
- .vmsn file which stores the memory state of the VM, allows reverting to a running state of a VM
The longer the hypervisor is required to keep a VM Snapshot active, the bigger its negative impact on the VM’s performance. This sluggishness results from the extra system overhead incurred when maintaining point-in-time image for the duration of the backup- an I/O intensive process that could take several minutes or hours. The undesirable consequences discourage organizations from taking more frequent snapshots, which makes them more vulnerable.
On the other hand, a storage snapshot can rapidly capture the point-in-time state of the VM from a momentary VM snapshot that only lasts seconds, and normal application behavior can quickly resume. Backups can then be taken directly from the SAN where the storage snapshot resides without disturbing the application VM. More frequent snapshots are then possible, with fewer gaps between known good recovery points.
Storage systems offering plug-ins based on the Veeam Universal Storage API minimize the impact of VM snapshots by using storage snapshots for backups. However, the catch here is that only select models of storage arrays from a handful of storage vendors offer qualified Veeam plug-ins. Backups of data kept on other non-compliant storage devices can materially degrade application response.
The Backup Challenge with Diverse Storage Systems Under the Hood
A typical backup challenge in an enterprise – or even mid-sized organization – is dealing with the heterogeneity of storage hardware. While solutions like Veeam offer reliable virtual machine backup from the hypervisor, the storage at the backend needs to be integrated with the backup solution to take advantage of their optimizations. This is often difficult as organizations in today’s scale-out infrastructures acquire storage capacity based on business need. There can be a combination of all-flash arrays (used for primary storage) and less-expensive spinning disks (used for secondary storage).
DataCore Software-Defined Storage Guarantees Vendor Independence for Storage Backup with Veeam
DataCore’s flagship software-defined solution, SANsymphony, offers a Veeam Universal Storage API plug-in, enabling Veeam Backup & Replication to use storage snapshots regardless of the brands and models of devices in the virtual storage pool, even if those devices do not offer a Veeam plug-in. These range from onboard NVMe flash and All-Flash Arrays to HDDs. The same streamlined backups apply equally well in hyperconverged infrastructures – delivering on the promise of ultimate flexibility and vendor independence.
Other Key Use Cases Addressing Veeam Customer Requirements:
- Veeam Ready Repository for Backup Data: Separate SANsymphony nodes, ideally in a different location, can also perform the role of a Veeam Ready Repository where backup copies can be safely and economically stored. From there, users may offload older backup files onto lower-cost, elastic object storage through Veeam Cloud Tier as part of the Scale-out Backup Repository in the Veeam Availability Suite.
- Automated Data Tiering: Leveraging the auto-tiering capabilities of SANsymphony, storage snapshots can be automatically migrated from primary storage to lower-cost secondary storage.
- Instant VM Recovery: Should a virtual machine fail, Veeam can restore a VM snapshot from the backup copy in no time.
- Non-disruptive Data Migration: When a specific storage hardware is approaching end-of-life or when there is a need to move datacenter locations or expand storage resources due to growing capacity needs, SANsymphony helps to migrate the data to other storage device easily and efficiently.
Other device-agnostic functions of SANsymphony include synchronous mirroring and asynchronous replication, zero-touch failover and failback for local and metro-clusters, advanced site recovery, as well as continuous data protection (CDP).
The integration of DataCore SDS storage infrastructure with your existing Veeam Backup & Replication environment makes it a compelling case of ultimate flexibility – providing the freedom of choice across competing storage hardware alternatives. Talk to a DataCore solution architect to try SANsymphony integration with Veeam in your datacenter.
- Blog: Veeam’s Blog on DataCore SANsymphony Integration
- White Paper: Taking Steps to Prevent Your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans from Being Derailed
- Webinar: From Disaster to Recovery: Preparing Your IT for the Unexpected
- Blog: The Difference Between High Availability and Disaster Recovery