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Advanced Snapshots - SnapProtect for VMware

Table of Contents

Managing Snapshots

The snapshots of the data created by the SnapProtect backup are also available for various other operations like list, mount, unmount, or delete.

List Snapshots

The browse operation provides the capability to see the snapshots created for an agent, job, or a snapshot copy. The list of the snapshots displayed is corresponding to the entity selected for the browse operation, for e.g., browsing the snapshots for an agent will display all the snapshots created for the selected agent. You can view volume or disk related information for the snapshots. Follow the steps given below to browse snapshots.
  1. From the CommCell Browser, navigate to Client Computers | VMware vCenter Client | VMware.
  2. Right-click <backup set> and click All Tasks | List Snaps.
  1. The Snaps created during SnapProtect operation dialog box displays a list of all the snapshots created for the selected subclient. It also displays important information about each snapshot, including the source mount path, snap mount path, the storage array, and the source client.
    • Right-click the snapshot and click Details to view the snapshot properties.
    • Click the Disk View tab to display the snapshot name, e.g. SP_2_79_1286222629.

Mount Snapshots

You can mount any available snapshot to access the data included in the snapshot. Follow the steps below to mount snapshots:

When mounting multiple snapshots, note the following:

  • You can mount snapshots from different jobs
  • The snapshots selected for mounting should belong to the same agent (such as Windows File System, UNIX File System, or VMware)
  • Snapshots should be mounted on a MediaAgent with the same operating system as the snapshot volumes. For example, Windows volumes should be mounted on a Windows MediaAgent, and Linux volumes should be mounted on a Linux MediaAgent.
  • There are no limits on the number of snapshots to be mounted. However, increasing the number of snapshots that are selected also increases the time for mounting the snapshots.
  • For Virtual Server Agent (VSA), mount snapshots from the backup set or subclient level. Mounting snapshots from the storage policy is not supported.
  • For VMware, mounting multiple snapshots of the same volume at the same time is not supported

If required, you can configure the following additional settings:

  • If the niSCSIEnable additional setting is configured, SnapProtect backup will always try to mount using iSCSI method. If this additional setting is not configured, SnapProtect backup tries to mount using the FC method first.
  • By default the snapshot will be exposed to the first Host Bus Adapter (HBA) on the ESX Server. To expose the snapshot to a specific HBA, configure the sPortInfo additional setting.

To mount a snapshot:

  1. From the CommCell Browser, navigate to Client Computers | <vcenter_client> | VMware.
  2. Right-click the backup set and click All Tasks | List Snaps.
  3. From the Snaps created during SnapProtect operation dialog box, right-click the snapshot that you wish to mount and select Mount.

    To select multiple snapshots, hold the <Shift> key and select the snapshots to be mounted.

    You can also open the Snaps created during SnapProtect operation dialog box by right-clicking the snapshot copy in a storage policy; but if you open the dialog box by this method, you can only view the list of snapshots and cannot mount the snapshots.

  4. Click Yes to confirm the mount operation.
  5. Click OK on the Mount path dialog box.

    By default, the snapshot will be mounted on the ESX server configured for SnapProtect backup. The ESX Server name and Logon account will be displayed in the Mount Path dialog box.  If you want to mount the snapshot to a different ESX server, click Override Default Selection check box and click Select ESX server for snap mount. In the Browse ESX Server dialog box, select the required ESX server and click OK.

    By default the snapshot will be exposed to the first Host Bus Adapter (HBA) on the ESX Server. To expose the snapshot to a specific HBA, configure the sPortInfo additional setting.

    The following message will be displayed when the mount operation completes.

    Mount Operation Completed Successfully.

  6. Click OK.
  7. Click Close  on the Snaps created during SnapProtect operation dialog box.

Unmount Snapshots

Follow the steps given below to Unmount Snapshots:

  1. From the CommCell Browser, navigate to Client Computers | VMware vCenter Client | VMware.
  2. Right-click <backup set> and click All Tasks | List Snaps.
  1. Right-click the snapshot you wish to unmount and click Unmount.

    To select multiple snapshots, hold <Shift> key and select the snapshots to be mounted.

  2. Click Yes when prompted if you want to continue.

If the snapshot does not get unmounted, select the Force Unmount option to mark the snapshot as unmounted.

Delete Snapshots

Snapshots can either be deleted using job-based pruning or from the list of displayed snapshots when browsing snapshots. Data Aging can also be used to define the retention rules and pruning of snapshots. Follow the steps given below to delete snapshots:

  • Manual deletion of snapshots is not recommended. When a snapshot is deleted, it is no longer possible to perform data recovery operations from the snapshot copy. However, if a backup copy was created from the snapshot, data recovery operations can be performed from the backup copy.
  • Ensure that the snapshot to be deleted is not mounted.
  • For NetApp E-series PiT engine, the order to delete snapshots should be the oldest snapshot first.

  1. From the CommCell Browser, navigate to Client Computers | VMware vCenter Client | VMware.
  2. Right-click <backup set> and click All Tasks | List Snaps.
  1. Right-click the snapshot you wish to delete.

    Ensure all snapshots with the same Job ID are selected for a successful deletion operation.

  2. Click Delete.
  3. Enter the confirmation text string, erase snapshots.
  4. Click OK.

Revert a Virtual Machine from a Snapshot

You can revert the virtual machine from a snapshot. The revert operation is faster than the regular restore operation because files are directly copied from the snapshot to their original volumes. It is useful when you want to bring the data back to the point-in-time when the snapshot was taken. This operation overwrites any modifications to the data since the time when the snapshot was created. This option is available if the storage array that you are using support revert.

The revert operation for virtual machines is supported on NetApp File Servers, but revert from SnapVault or SnapMirror snapshots are supported only for NetApp cluster mode (ONTAP version 8.3) and OnCommand unified manager (OCUM) version 6.2 or later. Other file servers are not supported. To perform a revert operation, the SnapRestore license is required on the NetApp file server.

Before performing a revert operation, ensure that all disks reside on the NetApp NFS data store. If the data does not reside on the NetApp NFS data store, you cannot perform the revert operation.

Review the following before performing a revert operation:

On Windows clients, disable automount using the following command:

diskpart> automount disable

Reverting a virtual machine from a snapshot is an irreversible operation. Verify the contents of the backup before performing a revert operation.

  1. From the CommCell Browser, navigate to Client Computers | VMware vCenter Client | VMware.
  2.  Right-click <backup set> and click All Tasks | Browse and Restore.
  3. Click OK on the Restore Options dialog box.
  4. Select the virtual machine that you want to revert and click Recover All Selected.
  5. From the Restore Options dialog box, click Advanced.
  6. Select the Use hardware revert capability if available option.
  7. Click Yes to confirm the revert operation.
  8. Click the Copy Precedence tab and select the number of the storage policy copy to use for restoring data.
  9. Click OK from the Advanced Restore Options dialog box.
  10. Click OK to start the revert operation.

If you are using ONTAP version 8.3 and OCUM 6.2, revert is supported from the secondary snap for restores on NFS volumes.

Quiesced and Crash Consistent Backups

When performing SnapProtect backups using the Virtual Server Agent (VSA), you can choose one of the following options to ensure application and data consistency:

  • Quiesce the file system and applications to pause activity on virtual machines while a hardware snapshot is created.
  • Perform a crash consistent backup.

You can restore a virtual machine from a VSA backup, including all applications running on the virtual machine. To back up and restore specific databases, use an application agent.

SnapProtect Protection for VMs on VVol or VSAN Datastores

VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols) provide a logical view of storage that enables data protection operations to address storage resources at the level of virtual machines. When VVol support is enabled, the Virtual Server Agent (VSA) supports SnapProtect backups for virtual machines using VVol for any hardware storage arrays that provide VVol support.

VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) storage provides a consolidated logical view of physical storage resources that can be used by virtual machines. The Virtual Server Agent (VSA) supports SnapProtect backups for virtual machines using VSAN storage for any hardware storage arrays that provide VSAN support.

You can enable VVol and VSAN support for a subclient.

The VSA leverages VMware software snapshots to perform more efficient and granular SnapProtect backups of VVols or VSAN datastores associated with a virtual machine. By using a software snapshot, the VSA reads data directly from storage and limits the data captured in the snapshot to the data for the targeted virtual machine.

For subclients for virtual machines that reside on VVol or VSAN volumes, SnapProtect backups run using the Virtual Server Agent Snap engine.

The following operations can address storage for each virtual machine, eliminating the need to create and manage snapshots for each datastore that contains virtual machine data:

  • SnapProtect backup
  • Backup copy
  • Data retention
  • Revert
  • Browse files
  • Recover VMs

Snapshot Retention

VVol software snapshots are retained after backups are completed, providing the ability to use the snapshot to revert the virtual machine to an earlier point in time. Virtual machine summary information in vSphere includes the snapshots, which are named in the format SP_commcell_id_job_id_snap_id_GX_Backup_.

In Best practices for using snapshots in the vSphere environment (1025279), VMware recommends that you retain fewer than 32 virtual machine snapshots in a chain. If this limit is exceeded, backups fail and the vsbkp.log file includes the following error:

CreateSnapshot() - Failed to create Snapshot from VM vm_name - Snapshot hierarchy is too deep

To avoid this issue, run regular backup copy jobs to move snapshots to tape, and configure the snap copy for the storage policy to prune snapshots so that fewer than 32 snapshots are retained on disk.

Considerations

The following limitations apply when restoring from an SnapProtect backup that includes VVol volumes:

  • For a virtual machine that includes VVol volumes, you can only restore data when the VVols for the VM reside on a single datastore.
  • You can only restore virtual machines out of place.

Notes:

  • These limitations do not apply when restoring from a backup copy.
  • If you perform an in-place restore from a backup copy, the restore operation overwrites any VVol snapshots. As a result, you must perform another backup before you can restore that VM again.

Enabling VVol and VSAN Support

To enable VVol and VSAN support for a subclient, perform the following steps:

  1. From the CommCell Browser, navigate to Client Computers > virtualization_client > VMware > backup_set.
  2. Right-click the subclient and select Properties.
  3. In the Subclient Properties dialog box, click the SnapProtect Operations tab.
  4. From the Available Snap Engines list, select Virtual Server Agent Snap.
  5. Click OK.

Verifying SnapProtect Backups

You can verify a backup to ensure that you can restore the virtual machine.

The recovery verification recreates the virtual machine to ensure backed up application and data are available as expected.

Mount the snapshot

  1. From the CommCell Browser, navigate to Client Computers | VMware vCenter Client | VMware.
  2. Right-click <backup set> and click All Tasks | List Snaps.
  1. From the Snaps created during SnapProtect operation dialog box, right-click the snapshot that you wish to mount and select Mount.
  2. Click Yes to confirm the mount operation.
  3. Click OK on the Mount path dialog box.

    By default, the snapshot will be mounted on the ESX server configured for SnapProtect backup. The ESX Server name and Logon account will be displayed in the Mount Path dialog box.  To mount the snapshot to a different ESX server, click Override Default Selection check box and click Select ESX server for snap mount. In the Browse ESX Server dialog box, select the required ESX server and click OK.

    By default the snapshot will be exposed to the first Host Bus Adapter (HBA) on the ESX Server. To expose the snapshot to a specific HBA, configure the sPortInfo additional setting.

    The following message will be displayed when the mount operation completes.

    Mount Operation Completed Successfully.

  4. Click OK.
  5. Click Close  on the Snaps created during SnapProtect operation dialog box.

Browse the Data

  1. From the CommCell Console, navigate to Client Computer | <VMware vCenter Client> | Virtual Server | VMware.

    Right-click the backupset that contains the data you want to restore and click Browse and Restore.

  2. Click View Content on the Restore Options dialog box.

Browse New Datastore and Register the Virtual Machine

  1. Click the virtual machine you want to register and click the Summary tab to see the datastore name.
  2. Click the ESX server you selected in Step 4, and click the Storage option.
  3. Identify the new datastore created after mounting the snapshot and register the virtual machine. The new datastore will have the following name:

    [OriginalDatastoreName]_GX_BACKUP_[BackupJobID]

  4. Specify a name for the virtual machine.

Verify the Data Using VI Client

  1. Right-click the virtual machine and select Edit Settings. Click Network adapters.
  2. Clear the Connect at power on checkbox in the Virtual Machine Properties dialog box for all the available network adapters.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Turn on the virtual machine.
  5. Click the Summary tab and select the I moved it option.
  6. Login to the virtual machine and verify the applications and data.
  7. After verification is complete, power off the virtual machine.
  8. Right-click the virtual machine and select the Remove from inventory option.

Unmount the Snapshot

  1. From the CommCell Browser, right-click the entity that contains the snapshots you want to browse, click All Tasks | List Snaps.
  2. In the Snaps created during SnapProtect operation, right-click the snapshot that you wish to unmount and select Unmount.

Using a Separate Proxy for Backup Copy

A backup copy operation provides the capability to copy snapshots of the data to any media. By default, the snapshot will be mounted on the ESX server that you have selected for the Snapshot mount. Follow the steps given below if you want to mount the snapshot on a different proxy computer during the backup copy operation:

  1. From the CommCell Browser, navigate to Client Computers | virtualization_client | VMware | backup_set.
  2. Right click the subclient configured for SnapProtect backup and select Properties.
  3. Click SnapProtect Operations tab.

    By default, the snapshot will be mounted on the ESX server specified in the Host box.

  4. Select the Use Separate Proxy for Backup Copy check box. 
  5. Select a proxy computer from the Proxy list. This list displays all the computers where Virtual Server iDataAgent and MediaAgent is installed.
  6. Click OK.

The snapshot will mount on the specified proxy computer when you perform the backup copy operation.

Selecting a Job for Backup Copy

You can select a specific job for creating backup copy. Once selected, the Move Snap to Tape field for the specific job will be changed to Picked (i.e., the next backup copy operation will move this job to media).
  1. Right-click a storage policy containing SnapProtect backup jobs, and then click View Jobs.
  2. Right-click the job and then click Pick for Backup Copy.

Disabling a Job for Backup Copy

You can prevent a job from being moved to media. You can apply this option to those jobs that were previously selected for moving to media. On selecting this option, the Move Snap to Tape field for the specific job will be changed to Not Picked (i.e., the next backup copy operation will not move this job to media).
  1. Right-click a storage policy containing SnapProtect backup jobs and then click View Jobs.
  2. Right-click the job and then click Do not Backup Copy.