With VMware's VMworld virtualization jamboree in San Francisco just a few days away, it's time to brace yourself for a deluge of new virtualization technology announcements
News has already been filtering out about a new joint initiative from HP and virtualization management software vendor Veeam. The initiative enables the recovery of VMs (running on either VMware or Microsoft hypervisors) and VM data directly from HP LeftHand SAN and HP StoreVirtual VSA (virtual SAN appliance) snapshots.
HP bought SAN startup LeftHand Networks back in 2008 for what now might be a bargain price of $360 million, and its software forms the basis of the StoreVirtual VSA that HP announced this month.
With many organizations taking space-efficient SAN snapshots throughout the working day, recovery from snapshots is something that is always of interest, especially as a solution that provides a short recovery point objective (RPO). Veeam claims the jointly developed HP-Veeam solution allows administrators to restore an entire VM or individual guest files (or Microsoft Exchange items) in as little as two minutes.
The software required to pull off the trick is Veeam's Explorer for SAN Snapshots, which will be included in the next release of Veeam's Backup & Replication suite. The new version of the suite will also feature integration with HP's LeftHand software.
Explorer for SAN Snapshots includes a wizard to guide administrators through a restore from a SAN snapshot, and it automatically mounts the snapshot and restores directly from VM files on the SAN snapshot in their native form without any intermediate process, according to Veeam. This protects the integrity of SAN snapshots and production LUNs, and also makes retrieving data from a SAN snapshot a fairly straightforward stunt to pull off, the company adds.
Of course, let's not forget that recovery from SAN snapshots is a bit of a smoke and mirrors stunt, as it's not a recovery from a backup in any real sense of the word. SAN snapshots are quick and space efficient precisely because they are not real backups — no data is copied, and if something nasty happens to the SAN any data stored on it will be lost unless the data really has been duplicated elsewhere.
But thankfully the most common recovery scenarios don't involve hard drive meltdowns. They are often the result of user error — employees accidentally deleting vital data, for example — or caused by system updates going haywire or scripts going rogue and corrupting any data they touch. In these scenarios snapshots can definitely help, even if the data is buried deep in the guts of a seemingly inscrutable virtual machine file.
To use Explorer for SAN Snapshots, you'll need a HP LeftHand SAN or a StoreVirtual VSA (running LeftHand software, you'll recall) from which to generate the snapshots. You'll also need version 6.5 of Veeam's Backup & Replication suite (or the Backup Free Edition which, as the name suggests, is free), which currently isn't scheduled to be available until Q4 of this year.
While you won't be able to get your hands on it until then, you should be able to see Explorer for SAN Snapshots in action as a demo at Veeam's and HP's booths at VMworld. It's certainly something worth taking a close look at, I'd suggest, as is HP's StoreVirtual VSA.
Paul Rubens is a technology journalist and contributor to ServerWatch, EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and EnterpriseMobileToday. He has also covered technology for international newspapers and magazines including The Economist and The Financial Times since 1991.