Introducing NetApp SnapProtect Backup

Over the past 5 years, server virtualization has changed the data center forever and these changes have had a far-reaching impact on data center architectures and operations. One of the areas often discussed as having been affected, is the ever increasing shared storage footprint. I’d suggest to you, that in my customer engagements storage costs are concern 1A closely followed by concern 1B, backup and recovery.

The shared physical infrastructure required with server virtualization has made completion of backup operations difficult. These challenges have led us to reevaluating how we accomplish business continuance goals, and the most logical place to start is the area with the most pain; backup and recovery. Gartner’s recent Magic Quadrant report for Enterprise Disk-Based Backup & Recovery highlights the changes customers are facing and reinforces change is in tow.

  • By 2014, at least 30% of organizations will have changed backup vendors due to frustration over cost, complexity and/or capability.
  • By 2014, 80% of the market will choose advanced, disk-based appliances and backup software-only solutions over distributed VTLs.
  • By 2014, deduplication will cease to be available as a stand-alone; rather, it will become a feature of broader data storage and data management solutions.

In order to increase our ability to meet the business continuance goals of today and tomorrow NetApp has announced the release of SnapProtect. The SnapProtect management software is our latest backup and recovery application that enables businesses to combine the benefits of our integrated data protection and storage efficiency technologies with applications and virtual infrastructures, provides a backup catalog supporting disk backups and tape archives, and provides the framework for enhanced disaster recovery capabilities (enabled by our virtualization partners) that are truly unmatched in the industry.

SnapProtect provides a plethora of capabilities that are too much for a single post to cover, so for today allow me to introduce you to some of the core constructs of SnapProtect.

The Industry’s Fastest Backup

SnapProtect provides a single interface to provide NetApp snapshot backups for physical and virtual servers. Snapshots are hardware based recovery points on the production array. They are created almost instantly and with almost zero impact on the production environment.

Traditional tape-based backup and disk-based architectures as both models requires hours for the backup operation to complete. These processes commonly include walking the data on the production array and processing the data prior transferring unique copies to the backup media.

NetApp snapshots provide immediate restore points thus eliminating backup windows while providing more recovery points than what is possible with traditional tape or disk-based solutions.

NetApp snapshots are very space efficient. When created, a snapshot simply lock blocks on the production disks resulting in a point-in-time backup that only consumes storage capacity when the production data set changes. By not copying the data out to another set of disks, NetApp snapshots can ensure high performance (and they better as they were the first feature we released, back in 1992).

When backing up VMware deployments, SnapProtect includes the ability to assign data protection policies on a per datastore basis. This model allows VMs to be automatically at the time of deployment, or migration onto a NetApp platform. Backups complete without the need for an agent to be installed in the VM, or for a need to assign the backup of a VM to a backup schedule.

If this model sounds familiar, it’s the model we originally established with our SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure application in 2008.

SnapProtect provides support for a wide range of applications residing in a VM, and this support is enabled via the lightweight iDataAgent, which communicates and executes application specific and GOS required processes in order to backup an application with hardware-accelerated snapshots. Currently the iDataAgent supports…

  • VMware
  • SAP
  • Oracle Database
  • DB2
  • SQL Server
  • Exchange Server
  • SharePoint
  • NAS file services
  • And more…

The Industry’s Fastest Data Transfer Engine

With as strong as snapshots are, a backup is not complete until the backup data is copied onto a second set of media, which ideally is stored in location separate from the production data. This process helps avoid loss of data in the event of a catastrophic failure at the production site.

The process of sending snapshot backups to tape or disk are accelerated in a number of ways. First, NetApp’ s integrated data protection technologies natively provide hardware-based change block tracking, thus eliminating the time and disk activity required to calculate the data required to be transferred or copied. CBT results in immediate transfers the blocks associated with a snapshot backup to disk or tape via SnapMirror, SnapVault, or NDMP.

SnapMirror replicas and SMTape operations inherit the storage savings provided by FlexClone, deduplication, and compression on the production data set (be it SAN or NAS). NetApp disk-to-disk replicas include a history backup recovery points on the remote array. For SnapMirror, this history is identical to what is stored on the production array. For long term on-disk archives, SnapVault may store many years worth of recover points. These recover points may reside on the initial replica or tertiary replicas residing on the same array or a remote array. SnapVault transfers automatically apply data deduplication to archived data sets.

In addition to these on-disk savings technologies, customers can enables compression on the replication streams to further reduce bandwidth requirements.

Don’t have NetApp Arrays?

No problem, SnapProtect supports 3rd party arrays virtualized with our vSeries array virtualization.

NetApp Integrated Data Protection Technologies

You may have noticed a theme of ‘integrated data protection’ running through this post. IDP is a native function of Data Ontap, our unified storage controller software. IDP is one set of hardware-accelerated technologies that enhance the scaling an ability of applications and infrastructures that reside on NetApp-powered storage arrays.

In addition to integrated data protection NetApp offer integrated storage efficiencies, both of which are made available for integration with our technology partners, service providers, and directly for our tech-centric customers via our OpenAPI program.

OpenAPIs allows our technology partners to scale their applications by offloading data management operations to the hardware layer, where we can complete tasks more efficiently by preserving data density and offloading the operations from other resources in the environment like hypervisors or guest VMs.

SnapProtect also supports the API program of our partners, like the vStorage APIs for Data Protection (VADP) from VMware.

By now some of you may have guessed, SnapProtect is an OEM version of CommVault® Simpana® 9. CommVault has delivered integrations via the OpenAPI program, enabling customers to manage NetApp snapshots, replication, and data deduplication. NetApp & CommVault have entered into this global OEM agreement as a strategy aimed to expand our market reach in addressing business continuance challenges.

We’re very excited to be partnering with CommVault they are a Leader in Gartner’s recent Magic Quadrant report for Enterprise Disk-Based Backup & Recovery, and now these capabilities are available directly to NetApp customers via SnapProtect.

Wrapping Up This Post

Wow, what a way to return from a holiday weekend! I uber excited for the release of SnapProtect and al that it brings to our customers in the areas of lightening quick backups & restores, efficiency and integrated hardware acceleration, simplicity and extensibility.

Stay tuned, I’ve got much more to share this week around SnapProtect (compliance, disaster recovery, etc) and our integrated data protection and OpenAPI program.

Additional Resources:

BTW – If you just can’t wait for these posts, please contact your NetApp partner or account team for more information.


  1. avatarforbsy says

    Ummmm…yah. Seen it already. It’s called Commvault Simpana.So, previously you told us that Protection Manager was the panacea for managing our backups, recoveries and DR. What about SnapManager suite – should we now do away with that? What do we now tell our customers who’ve we’ve sold on SnapManager benefits? For our customers who already purchased the “complete bundle” do they now have to fork out additional money for Snapprotect? You can see where I’m going with this.

  2. avatar says

    @Forbsy – I think it’s fair to say that you are asking for some clarity from NetApp around our Backup & Restore strategy. Let me know if I have misunderstood your point.
    SnapProtect (CommVault OEM) allows NetApp to offer an enterprise B&R solution which includes integration into our native data protection technologies like Snapshots, SnapMirror, & SnapVault for storage, application, virtual infrastructure, backup, and compliance administrators.
    Our existing set of B&R applications tend to only address the needs of each the administrative groups. SnapProtect allows our customers to deliver the capacity, bandwidth, and time savings of our IDP technologies in a manner that is coordinated across multiple management domains and can be extended with our partners DR automation tools.
    I want to apologize here, as I meant to address these discussion in a blog post or two in June and unfortunately got pulled away. I’ll get back on this shortly.
    Thanks for sharing your feedback.

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