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NetApp SMVI and Backup Exec

May 2, 2011 Leave a comment
Encountered a situation a while back where the requirement was to virtualize the infrastructure of a client. Netapp has some great tools around Backup and Recovery. The challenge came into play when we had to write those backups to tape…….
You see, Netapp has a tool called SMVI which gives you the ability to backup your virtual machines quickly using their snapshot technology. It gives you image and file level recovery in one backup. If you then replicate those volumes to another Netapp via SnapMirror, it works great. You have a restartable copy of the VM offsite. Same goes with their SnapManager for SQL tool. The problem was that the client had a requirement to write to tape and their Backup solution was Backup Exec. They couldn’t replicate because of bandwidth and cost issues. At first I thought, no problem, we’ll do NDMP to tape from Backup Exec. Backup Exec supports 3-way NDMP which means you can initiate an NDMP dump from Backup Exec and tell the Netapp to dump the data over the network to a Backup Exec media server. Easy enough, right? Wrong! Turns out that Netapp has a naming convention on snapshots created from the SMVI (SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure). SMVI works fine and creates a generic snapshot name but for anything else, SMSQL, SM for Exchange, etc., it tags a timestamp to the snapshot name and you can’t do anything about it. When you define the backup job in Backup Exec, you can’t specify wildcards for the snapshot names on the volume. This means you have to setup the job to point to a specific snapshot name and if that snapshot name changes every day, you are changing the job every day. It just wasn’t acceptable.
So the solution was this. A pre-script that connects to the Netapp, renames the latest snapshot by removing the timestamp, then a post-script that names the snapshot name back. This is important because not renaming it back will cause SM for SQL to break and you won’t be able to do a restore locally. Don’t forget, if you are doing hourly transaction log backups, you need to do the same thing on the snapinfo directory when you write it to tape. You can use your favorite flavor of scripting language for this, Perl, Powershell, etc. Good Luck!
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