Almost a year ago, I was introduced to a new backup technology that worked natively between 3PAR and StoreOnce. HP called it Express Protect and Flat Backup and targeted VMware environments with the technology. I must have missed the fact that when it was shown off it was branded as StoreOnce Recovery Manager Central. VMware backups are a large percentage of our overall enviroment and so its a particular pain point, so I was very interested to see if this could solve some of the pain.
What is StoreOnce Recovery Manager Central?
The StoreOnce RMC story begins within the 3PAR software line with the 3PAR Recovery Manager software. This was optional software that allowed application aware snapshots on 3PAR arrays for data protection. These snapshots were a way to do application consistent protection and rollback with the the storage array. StoreOnce Recovery Manager Central is an extension of this technology that takes the same application consistent 3PAR snapshots and ships those over to the StoreOnce data protection arrays. Now, in true StoreOnce style, the snapshots on 3PAR are tracked and deduplicated and only changes are ever sent over to the StoreOnce array, making for efficient and fast backups.
While 3PAR Recovery Manager has specific version for many different products including VMware, Oracle, Microsoft SQL and other products, StoreOnce Recovery Manager Central is strictly for VMware at this time.
How does it work?
According to HP staff I spoke with, StoreOnce Recovery Manager Central a typical backup with StoreOnce RMC would look like this:
- The StoreOnce RMC uses the vCenter API to snapshot all of the VM’s on a particular 3PAR Virtual Volume.
- Once snapshots complete, the 3PAR takes an array snapshot of the VMFS datastore.
- Another call is made to the VMware API and the VM-level snapshots are removed. You no longer need them because you have snapshot at the array level.
- If this is the first backup, then all of the data is shipped over to the StoreOnce and deduplicated as it arrives.
- If this not the first backup, only the changed blocks from the snapshot are then shipped to the StoreOnce backup device directly from the 3PAR.
What are the advantages of this versus ISV software?
It is much more efficient than backups with ISV software for a combination of reasons. The first is the change tracking between the StoreOnce and 3PAR to know what blocks were altered and need to be moved to the StoreOnce. The second is the nature of the StoreOnce deduplication, which is purpose built for deduplicating and rehydrating data for backup applications. The third is it is over native storage protocols without a separate piece of software in between – the actions happen directly between the 3PAR array and the StoreOnce array.
A second advantage is that the control of backups moves from a backup administrator to the application owners – like the VMware administrator and appears in their native management tools. The current StoreOnce Recovery Manager Central for VMware puts a plugin into the VMware Web Client that allows the VMware administrator to setup, scheduled, control and monitor their own backups in a view they are very familiar with.
But what about tape? And what about my existing backups?
Ok, you’ve got me there. If you have compliance or policies that dictate you need tape or archival copies of data, you’ll need your ISV software to handle that. But HP is also thinking of those use cases and as long as your ISV software supports a single API, they will be able to pickup and handle data stored by StoreOnce RMC from any of its supported primary storage arrays and move it to tape. But that’s all future and its up to the individual ISV to add support for this capability. At this time, even HP’s own Data Protector doesn’t offer this.
HP’s vision is to take a single control appliance and make it work across their line of storage platforms and may also extend to third parties in the future. Here’s a HP ChalkTalk that explains more about StoreOnce Recovery Manager Central and about the vision moving forward. Its fairly clear, other applications beyond VMware are slated for support in the future.