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Unlock the power of storage snapshots

Data Protection, Storage


29 Jul 2015


In an earlier blog post we spoke about the necessity to consider the extended Commvault feature set, which takes it from 'just another backup product' to a complete data management solution. One such feature which we are beginning to see wider adoption of is "Intellisnap", so I thought I would take the opportunity to share some thoughts which I hope you will find useful.

With almost all organisations suffering from data explosion, dealing with ever increasing data sizes in a traditional fashion by taking a streaming backup from each system is proving harder and harder. Equally, as data moves around and changes faster and faster, the traditional nightly backup is often proving insufficient for the organisation's restore point requirements. The need to capture more data in shorter periods of time is one of the biggest challenges faced in a modern data protection strategy.

Snapshot reality

One solution to this challenge which has been provided by storage vendors for some time now is that of the storage snapshot. Imagine being able to take a single, point-in-time copy of your entire environment with one click. Sounds like the answer to all of our prayers!

However, as with a lot of things, it often sounds better than the reality, and can come with a number of challenges:

  • A snapshot is not a 'proper' backup - if the storage array fails, the snapshot is lost along with it. A true backup needs to be stored away from the primary source.
  • Vendor dependent - the scope of functionality available is tied to the storage vendor, and functionality levels can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and model to model. Additionally, the operation and management of such system will vary and lead to...
  • Decoupled management - ownership for snapshots will often fall to the storage administrators rather than data protection owners.
  • Application consistency - obtaining certainty that the information contained within the snapshot is what you need and captured in a usable fashion.

The Commvault Intellisnap functionality has been created with solving these issues in mind and allows organisations to fully leverage the snapshot capabilities within their existing storage platforms. By bringing control of snapshots into the familiar Simpana interface, snapshots across multiple storage vendors and systems can be managed and controlled in an identical manner. By leveraging the functionality within the Commvault iDataAgents, applications are correctly prepared and placed into a consistent state prior to snapshots being taken so it can be ensured that the snapshot contains viable data.

Finding the sweet spot

In my opinion however, the most powerful advantage is being able to improve your overall data protection strategy by utilising snapshots, and provide benefits back to users.

One of the most common restore requests we see is the sub 24-hour RPO - the "I created a file this morning the deleted it this afternoon!" conundrum. With this scenario, a traditional nightly backup is no help as a backup has not run in the lifetime of the file and so has never been captured.

Imagine however, if it was possible to take multiple restore points throughout the day and thus protect for this type of event. Well with snapshots that can be achieved. What's more, with Intellisnap these restore points can be built into existing storage policies to easily provide another layer of protection in a traditional grandfather-father-son model.

So if you're finding yourself struggling under the pressure of increased data sizes combined with increased demands for restore points, implementing an Intellisnap strategy could be just the thing.

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Author: Paul Hallett

Paul is a data protection specialist with the principal responsibility of developing and delivering our Commvault managed services.

29 July 2015 / 0 Comments