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By all indications, today’s data centers are actively embracing snapshots for backup.  While most are using this to augment traditional backups, several are actively replacing their traditional backup solutions with snapshot-based backup and recovery solutions.

Check out these survey results from a survey Gartner conducted. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents stated that they have plans to augment backup software with snapshot and replication solutions, and one-third of those polled indicated that they plan to replace backup software with snapshots and replication:

Source: “The Future of Backup May Not Be Backup”

Gartner ID Number: G00218917 Author: Dave Russell Date: 22 Sep, 2011

What triggers this trend?  Simply put, snapshots can be generated quickly and frequently, yet, there is none of the overhead of resource requirements typical of traditional backup. Most of all, recoveries are instantaneous and painless.  Combining snapshots with bandwidth-efficient replication provides additional protection, safeguarding against local site outages.

What’s not to like?  Well, here’s the big caveat. NOT ALL SNAPSHOTS ARE CREATED EQUAL. Moving the onus of backups to a storage system that isn’t optimized for this foundational capability would be like leaping from the frying pan to the fire.

Firstly, in order to allow frequent recovery points, snapshots should be inexpensive both in terms of storage capacity and performance.  Otherwise, you could end up consuming expensive storage capacity. Not to mention bogging down performance of the array.  Secondly, the implementation needs to be able to support a large number of snapshots to truly support frequent recovery points. (See here for further discussion on snapshot implementations.) So make sure to read the fine print and ask the hard questions.

Rounding out the Solution

While snapshots can greatly improve backup efficiency, there is tangible value in combining this foundational capability with an intelligent backup management system for an end-to-end solution.

This is what the Nimble-Commvault partnership is centered around.

Commvault has been one of the first vendors to recognize and embrace the industry trend towards snapshots. The Commvault IntelliSnap Connect program facilitates a data and information management approach that leverages hardware based snapshot and replication technologies.

Following is what the joint solution would deliver to end customers:

  • Centralized management that allows admins to configure, execute, and monitor backup and restore operations, as well as perform monitoring and auditing from a single console
  • Support for long-term retention, compliance and e-discovery through archival to tape and virtual tape media
  • Integrated catalog that allows indexing and tracking of snapshot copies across primary, secondary, and other forms of media
  • Granular recoveries of snapshots, application objects, files, VMs, and volumes
  • Reduced cost and complexity through elimination of redundant server, networking and storage resources required by traditional backup architectures
  • Frequent recovery points irrespective of the volume of data to be protected
  • Rapid restores that require no data movement
  • Support for app and VM consistent recoveries speeding up application and VM restore times

Stay tuned for more on this front.

Written by:
Radhika Krishnan