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By Bharath Ram, Senior Technical Marketing Engineer, HPE Nimble Storage

HPE Nimble Storage has now extended VSS integration for applications running on VVol VMs. An end-to-end automated workflow is now possible that allows application data to be backed-up and enables administrators to separate their VM & application backups.

HPE Nimble Storage

Microsoft VSS Integration

With the 5.0 release of NimbleOS, HPE brings Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) for VVols using application consistent snapshots. If you are not already familiar with the new VVol capabilities NimbleOS 5.0 brings, refer to this blog post, which goes into detail on various new features that have been developed and integrated with the new HPE Nimble Storage vCenter plugin.

HPE has now extended VSS integration for applications running on VVol VMs. We now provide end-to-end automated workflows that allow application data to be backed-up and enable administrators to separate their VM backups and application backups. The volume that holds the OS will be in a crash consistent state and while the data volumes holding the application will be in held in an application consistent state. Taking application consistent snapshots helps administrators to protect against transactional data loss (application-aware) and maintain data integrity and reduce downtime during restore operations.

All the applications that are currently supported by current versions of HPE Nimble Storage Windows Kit are also supported with the new release for VVols.

HPE Nimble Storage

Supported Applications

Let’s go over an example using a SQL server to show how easy it is to enable and manage VSS based application recovery for VVol VMs.

 

Step 1. Create a VSS based Storage profile

In my case I have created three different storage profiles for the three different disks I plan to create for my VM.

  1. SQL Server Application Storage Policy for Database drive
  2. SQL Log Application Storage Policy for SQL Logs
  3. OS policy for the base OS disk

(Note: The separation of storage policies would work fine however to make recovery easier it is also recommended to create a single storage profile that will have all the VVols associated with the VM)

Ensure the VSS application synchronization is turned ON for the disk for which you want the app sync to apply.

HPE Nimble Storage

SQL Server VM Storage Policy with VSS enabled

HPE Nimble Storage

SQL Log VM Storage Policy

Note: another best practice here is to have all of the drives configured with the same protection schedule.

 

Step 2: SQL Server Setup & Configuration

Once the SPBM policies are defined on vCenter, I setup and configure the SQL Server.

  1. Install Windows 2012 OS
  2. Install VMware Tools
  3. Install applications – in my example a SQL 2012 server
  4. Install Nimble Windows Kit 5.0 or above

As you can see I created three separate drives. One for the OS, one for the SQL Data and one for SQL logs.

HPE Nimble Storage

Seperate drives for OS, Data & logs

Once the above steps were completed, I assigned the individual disks with the appropriate Storage policies created in step 1.

HPE Nimble Storage

Applying the VM Storage policies to the appropriate drives

 

Step 3: Application Sync Configuration

For this next step, I configured App Sync from within the HPE Nimble Storage vCenter Plugin.

Select the VM that needs to have App sync capability and select APP SYNC from the menu under Local.

HPE Nimble Storage

Nimble vCenter Plugin

This action will bring up a Wizard to configure VSS Sync for that specific VM.

HPE Nimble Storage

App Sync Wizard

Note: The vCenter Plugin automatically runs a PowerShell script distributed with HPE Nimble Storage Windows Toolkit to configure the guest VM and array for VSS snapshots leveraging the guest credentials provided above.

 

Step 4: Confirm Policy Compliance

After this step, go back to vCenter and click the VM, and under summary ensure that VM Storage Policies are in Compliance.

HPE Nimble Storage

Policy Compliance check

If the App Sync is not configured within the HPE Nimble Storage vCenter plugin, the policies will be out of date or non-complaint, until configured correctly through the steps above.

Also on the HPE Nimble Storage Array GUI, you will see a Volume collection for the SQL VM configured with Microsoft VSS synchronization enabled.

HPE Nimble Storage

Nimble GUI Volume Collection

Alright, now to the interesting part of how the recovery works: I have added a demo video with this blog. The video demonstrates how you can delete a particular database and then restore just the SQL data volume and get the deleted Database restored.

To learn more about HPE Nimble Storage and VVols, go to our website hpe.com/storage/virtualization