SAN snapshots are the fastest way to secure your data, especially if you are using offloading API's like VAAI. So since it is fast and the timeframe is small, some people want to use san snapshots as a backup procedure. There are a few issues here; the first issue is that if you want a longer retention, you will need to keep all your snapshots online and this will take too much precious production data in your tier1 storage array. The second issue is that a lot of SAN products today still don't like working full-time on top of nested snapshotted LUNs.

Another not to underestimated part is the job itself. If you want to use snapshots as a data protection method, you can easily use it for recovering an entire volume to a previous state but recovering a single item is a big task. You need to promote the snapshot to a production volume, present this to a different server and maybe even present a VMDK in that volume. And then you are just ready to start recovering. Once the recovery is done you still need to clean up after you.

So keeping snapshots online forever was not an option and the recovery process takes too much time. But we still want the same RPO-time (Recovery Point Objective). If we do this with our legacy backup software, we would end up with a sprawl of jobs and a lot extra time babysitting the backup interface. Therefore Veeam teamed together with HP to make something new happen. They know how to run SAN snapshots, we know how to run data recovery. Veeam will give you the opportunity to recover single item from SAN snapshots through our easy-to-use interface making that entire manual process a 5 minutes job.

Veeam Explorer for SAN snapshots

So how does this work? We have drilled down the workflow in the following steps:

  1. From the Veeam Backup (& Replication) user interface a command to the SAN is initiated. This is done through a proprietary API from HP(1)
  2. The SAN issues a clone of the requested snapshot.
  3. The snapshot is promoted to an active LUN
  4. and presented to the vSphere hosts, a HBA re-scan command is issued, the LUN is mounted and performs a re-signature operation
  5. Veeam recovery procedure: A) VM snapshot using VADP (vStorage API for Data Protection). B) Instant VM recovery / Single item file recovery / Exchange granular restore
  6. After the recovery is finished the Veeam backup server issues a cleanup command to the SAN who will delete the promoted snapshot.

Schema how Veeam Explorer for SAN snapshots works

As you see we also included the backup target in the picture. This is just to remind you that Explorer for SAN Snapshots is not a backup strategy. It is a temporary recovery procedure.

Hereby a screenshot of the Beta Preview. Keep in contact for a recorded demo soon!

For the people attending VMworld US next week: try to find me or one of my colleagues. We’ll try to give you a live demo.

The process of VM recovery from SAN snapshot

Extra Information

(1) Explorer for SAN Snapshots uses a proprietary API from HP. This is the reason it will only be included in HP StoreVirtual VSA and Lefthand for now.

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  • http://www.llnet.de Ralf Luithle

    We need this with IBM SAN Products. For example DS3524 which is technical the same Product used by DELL, SUN and many others.

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  • Jason

    Can you guys make this public? I have a nimble SAN that this would be perfect for. Since they are not as popular yet for the masses I assume that you guys wont directly reach out to them.

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    • Hans De Leenheer

      Dear Jason,

      This has been developed together with HP Lefthand team. They provided us with a decent API and we did the rest. At this point several storage vendors are interested in joining the forces for Explorer for SAN Snapshots. There are no public announcements on who yet. We have no bias against any vendor but as you mentioned yourself: everything will have to pass through the sieve of priorities. There are 2 major points here: how decent is the API (ie: can they do the same steps as we needed from Lefthand) and how many customer can we help by adding the compatibility for that vendor.

      Regards,
      Hans

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  • Brian

    Hi,
    Is there a poll where customers vote the SAN brand they own/use? This may assist you in selecting the next SAN for Veeam SAN Snapshot Explorer, if the API permits.

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    • Hans De Leenheer

      if only it was that simple 🙂

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      • Brian

        Thought it would be a good starting point 🙂
        Guess not! 🙂

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  • Maarten

    Hope this will become available for more SAN vendors. Dell Equallogic would be usefull 🙂

    I think this would be a great help for a lot of customers.

    Again Veeam has added a nice feature to theire allready great product!

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  • Nathan

    Are there any plans to make this functionality available for HP’s 3PAR family of SANs?

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  • Greg

    I vague, this would be perfect for Nimble Storage,

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  • Clint

    How about allowing the first 3 steps to be done manually so that restores can be done from SAN regardless of vendor?

    I don’t mind manually cloning my snapshot and promoting it to an active LUN. I then just need a nice way to tell Veeam where that LUN is so it can do the rest.

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    • Hans De Leenheer

      Hi CLint,

      I get your point. Although that would be an ‘easy’ way of helping all others that request for this tool for other vendors, it’s not the best idea. If you know Veeam you know that everything we do should be done ‘the best’. There is just too many risks in having you, and with that I mean any admin, do those manual tasks. The way it is done now there is not a single storage nor vSphere task involved, what limits a lot of possible errors.

      I really like these kind of questions. Together with all the comments before about other products it means we really have hit a nerve. My suggestion for now? Have a look at HP StoreVirtual VSA. You can run it on any platform. It doesn’t matter what servers you have and it doesn’t matter what the storage underneath is.

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  • Jason

    “There is just too many risks in having you, and with that I mean any admin, do those manual tasks”

    Uh, thats what we have to do now, every time we want to do a restore. That sounds like market speak to me.

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  • James Hess


    Hans De Leenheer:
    If you know Veeam you know that everything we do should be done ‘the best’. There is just too many risks in having you, and with that I mean any admin, do those manual tasks..

    “The best” is quite subjective; every organization wants what’s best for them, and one size never fits all. Manual overrides, and admin intervention, are sometimes the best thing; frankly, the concept of having a third party tool with access to make SAN snapshot changes, or connectivity to SAN management, is a very scary thing. The impact of application malfunction could be quite serious.
    If a storage admin screws up and makes an error, then so be it: It’s their job to be cautious, and ensure they check every action and understand its ramifications in detail.

    The arguments about risk and errors could be used to say that there should be no option to browse a datastore, or delete a VMDK, even when it’s unused…. there’s just so much risk, the wrong VMDK could be erased.

    It would be better, for the Veeam tool to support many more arrays, or rather to publish an API / Interface specification, eg XMLRPC/SOAP interface spec, with the tool enabled to make callouts to a specified IP address, with a public spec containing all the details required for the array vendors, or anyone to integrate and enable the tool to function with any kind of SAN that supports snapshots and cloning.

    There may be risks, but most of the responsibility for risk then belongs to whomever implements the spec and writes the integrations.

    If an org wants to have manual admin intervention,
    the organization can then provide an interface, that the Veeam tool contacts, submits the request to,
    that gets processed by the org’s backend systems, to generate detailed instructions from the storage admin, and uses Read-Only SAN access to request status updates, and tell the Veeam tool, when the operations have been done…

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    • Hans De Leenheer

      Hi James,

      best” means of course “the best possible way we could” , “better than common” or any other subjective way to look at it. The bottomline is that Veeam will do it’s very best to ensure that everything we bring out meets our powerful/easy-to-use/affordable standards. Not entirely opening our own API’s/processes might be one way of doing that.

      As for the ‘opening’ API I know there are multiple ways of doing it. The way Veeam does it (today) has a lot to do with that controlling quality but also partnership. As you have noticed we already supported some thing wth HP such as StoreOnce. In the mean time HP StoreVirtual (Lefthand) is not even the only product for SAN Snapshot support. Veeam will support in a next release HP StoreServ also (3PAR). We’ll see what’s next.

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  • http://www.richards.com Ray Lovett

    One more vote cast to support Nimble Storage array’s.

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