How to Make One Thousand Snapshots Useful

Almost every modern storage system claims to support “thousands” of snapshots of production data without impacting performance. While some of the lack of performance impact claims have proven to be suspect, there is little doubt that today’s storage solutions support more than their predecessors which only supported a handful. The ironic twist is that almost every storage manager Storage Switzerland examines only has a half dozen or so snapshots active at any given time.

The reason that most data centers only use a fraction of their storage systems snapshot potential is that while managing the snapshot itself is fairly automated, managing the data within that snapshot is not. For example, if a restore request requires a specific version of a specific file, and the modification date and time of that version isn’t known, then finding that one file from a pile of thousands of snapshots is going to take a lot of trial and error.

Putting One Thousand Snapshots to Work with Backup

Most storage systems have a very limited understanding of the data actually inside the snapshot. Even fewer have any type of snapshot file catalog similar to what a backup application might have. The answer is for backup applications to tightly integrate with storage systems, or for the backup application to provide an API set that enables the storage system to integrate with them.

Integration of backup applications with storage system snapshots enables the backup application to not only take a snapshot to create the backup copy, but to also leverage the snapshot or snapshots as a part of the protected data set. Integrating snapshot copies with backup copies means that the backup application also creates a catalog of the data within the snapshot along with its normal backup copies. The backup application can also manage how long the snapshot copy is maintained.

When a recovery request is made, the backup application can present the data within the snapshots alongside the copies on protected storage and then automatically recover the data from the best quality and fastest recovery source.

Conclusion

IT professionals need to look for solutions that work together to deliver a truly integrated functionality that is more than just taking a snapshot for the purposes of creating a backup copy. They need a backup application that leverages snapshot copies as a component of the protected data set, catalogs that data and automatically restores from the most viable source.

To learn more about modern backup architectures, watch our on demand webinar with Veeam and NetAppWill Your Backup Architecture Meet Tomorrow’s SLAs? 3 Steps to Make Sure!” and receive our latest white paper “How to Design a Modern Data Protection Architecture.”

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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