A survey conducted by “TheInfoPro”, a division of 451 Research Group, reports that end users are increasingly using array based snapshots as part of their data protection programs.  A few organizations rely on snapshot and replication as their only data protection strategy.

In the past, array based snapshots and replication did not find much favor with CIOs.  It was considered a low level technology that replicated blocks of data, and data integrity had to be maintained by taking down applications.  Heterogeneous storage hardware was not well supported and the whole process was very expensive.

Today, the technology is still approached with some amount of wariness. But, the technology has advances, and options are now more flexible and affordable. The replication and snapshot process has been centralized and has been made platform agnostic. Interoperability is being encouraged between vendors. Partnerships between Cloud service providers and hardware manufacturers have been beneficial to end users. For instance, the partnership between CommVault and hardware vendors resulted in the development of IntelliSnap that integrates its software with its vendor partner hardware API. The combo powerfully integrates, executes snapshots, calls clone, indexes, re-synchs, mounts, dismounts and other related functions. The purpose is to replace vendor specific lock-in and enable end users eliminate the need to write interfacing scripts or customize the interaction between the different hardware / software in use.

What are the perceived advantages?

Array based replication and snapshot technology make for faster recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) with the added advantage of speed and granular recovery in virtual and physical environments. Unlike snapshot and replication tools of disk array vendors, Cloud service vendors offer sophisticated, application-aware snapshot and replication that can be used across heterogeneous environments without lock in.

The advantages of using array based replication and snapshot technology can be listed as under:

  • Snapshot can be created on a per volume basis
  • Volumes can be rolled back to any existing snapshot
  • Policy based deletion can be orchestrated
  • Snapshots can be created on demand or as per schedule
  • Snapshots can be created, mounted and volume restore operations can be performed
  • Virtual machine templates can be replicated
  • Fault tolerance can be configured for virtual machines with failover enablement
  • Linked clone trees can be replicated
  • Snapshot hierarchy can be maintained
  • Powered off or suspended virtual machine can be replicated
  • Array specific VSS application consistency with log management is possible
  • Application consistent snapshots can be created