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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