Field Report: NetApp SVM-DR, CommVault, AltaVault and “The Cloud”

By | 15. February 2018

Hi everyone,

today I want to tell you about a project that will cover a large part of the NetApp portfolio.

From local snapshots to SVM-DR, to CommVault IntelliSnap for NetApp, to NetApp AltaVault and backup to the cloud.

But lets start…

First, the customer had a FAS 2552  connected to 7 ESX hosts via NFS with approximately 70 virtual machines on it (+ Citrix VDI). After that I built a FAS2554 in a second data center into which I replicated the datatstores and VM’s using SnapMirror and the NetApp Virtual Storage Console (VSC).
So far so good. I had a SnapMirror backup in another data center, which is 500 meters away. Two years later, the customer was tormented by other questions:

  1. What if both data centers are lost? (e.g. by flood or earthquake)
  2. How fast can I work again if my main data center is lost?
  3. Why do I always need NetApp storage to make a restore?

I was able to answer these questions as follows:

  1. If both data centers are lost, a backup to the cloud would be useful
  2. If your main data center is lost, we can start the main VM’s again in the second data center
  3. You don’t need NetApp storage to get your data and VM’s back when we use CommVault.

This resulted in the following storage concept:

In the second data center I installed a physical CommVault backup server and presented a really fat piece of memory from the existing FASS2554.

CommVault uses this as backup to disk storage. CommVault performs a snapshot based backup of all VMS and backs them up to the memory of the FAS 2554. This allows me to make a restore to the live environment relatively quickly. Since the customer also uses the CIFS services from the NetApp FAS 2552, I opted for a SVM-DR Mirror. Too many abbreviations?

SVM = Storage virtual Machine

DR = Disaster Recovery.

So it’s easier to explain:

This allows me to replicate the virtual storage instance on the production NetApp hardware to the hardware in the secondary location.

In addition to all of the data this also replicates key storage information like name, IP address and ISCSI configuration information: “My name is Storage1 and I have IP address and I accept ISCSC from IQN.Derschmitzbla.34456.”

So with the SVM-DR from NetApp I get back online pretty quickly on the backup machine (FAS 2554) As far as my CIFS data is concerned. So that I can get my VMs back online very quickly, I need another step. So I put a small emergency esx host in the second data center. On this emergency ESX I can then get the most important virtual machines with CommVault back up and running. Keyword: “Restore to Alternative location and start” Of course, the VMs don’t run as fast as they do on a productive environment, but you can work again.

Phew. Now our data is secure and we can continue working as a company quickly!?

Yes, first. We have two data centers, can continue to work there relatively quickly but still have no protection against total loss.

The classic way is to do a backup to a tape drive. I then take the tapes to the bank and all my data is safe!

However the following is said:

  • 93% of companies who had to make up for at least 10 days without a data center as a result of a total failure reported bankruptcy within one year. (Source: National Archives and Records Administration Washington)
  • 70% of companies that had catastrophic data losses had to give up within 18 months. (Source: British Ministry of Economy)

Ask yourself the question “How long will it take you to recovery all of your data from tape?” Therefore my approach to the customer: Backup to Cloud with AltaVault in this scenario, I installed a NetApp AltaVault appliance on the emergency ESX Server.

CommVault stores all the data in the AltaVault in a second backup job and stores the entire backup encrypted in the cloud.

With the changes we made we met the three challenges the customer had set, providing them with additional resilience, enhanced recovery and greater flexibility.

Thanks for reading

kind regards


Disclaimer: This post represents my personal observations and is not officially authorized by NetApp, CommVault or others. misinterpretations or misunderstandings reserved.

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