NETAPP SnapShot or VTL ???

Hello, We currently purchased 2 Netapp 3050 Filers for CIFS, FC, and ISCSI. We also have the Snapshot feature, but are not using it at this time. Now we are looking into a VTL for local recovery. Here's our dilema. Why not forget about the VTL and take advantage of the NETAPP's SNAPSHOT functionality. We have an instant snapshot of our data which we could recover back to if there was a file deleted or if there was any data corruption. The filers are redundant and the filer storage is raid-dp protected, so shouldn't that be sufficient protection ??? We are having a serious debate over this issue. The debate revolves around putting all our eggs in one basket. Thinking if both Netapp filers fail or if 3 disks fail within one raid group, we have no local recovery. Should we be concerned about the chances of such a scenario ??? Are the NETAPP filers and attached FC/SATA storage that volatile ??? Any thoughts on this dilema would be greatly appreciated. Regards, Pete

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We also use Netapp. The snapshot feature is definitely worth using, and is very effective for any file restores. Very occasionaly I will need to go to tape, but only because we didn’t have enough disk space to cover as many versions as we might have wanted with the snapshots, or because it is easier to do a restore with our Tivoli Storage Manager options than with the shapshots.

You say your two filers are redundant, but you don’t say if they are in the same site, or at different ones. It is important to have tape (or VTL) backups in case of a disaster (fire, etc) if they are at the same location. If not, I would think you have enough protection. Or, if you want a solution that gives a little to each side of the arguement, you could use your backups as a disaster recovery, just keeping a week’s worth, etc.

Good luck!
Pat McCroskey
Systems Administrator
CoxHealth, Springfield, MO

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  • Maupe01
    Hi Pat, Thanks for your response. The filers are at the same site. We are only looking at VTL for local recovery while we use Networker to backup to physical tape for offsite DR. We're not at the point where we can invest in offsite hardware and do data replication. Thanks! Pete Maurer Technical Services Group Anixter 2301 Patriot Blvd. Glenview, IL 60026-8020
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  • DeathRider
    It would be my preference to have the VTL because you have multiple copies of the data contained therein. Snapshots require that you have real, physical storage available that is the same size as the source for each snapshot. Even though sales and marketing tell you that it is a ?virtual pool?, the reality is that as the source changes, each snapshot requires physical storage to contain those changes. They are good to use as a source for backups where you shutdown/hot-backup your database, create the snapshot, and then restart the DB/take out of hot-backup. The only other use for snapshots are test/dev environments where performance of the source or targets are not an issue. There are just too many performance penalties to use snapshots in a production environment where both the snapshot and production data is constantly being changed and thus updated. But these are my reasons why I would go VTL over snapshot. It really comes down to what does downtime cost your company in the worst-case failure. In my world we take a full Business Contingency Volume (BCV) / Business Copy (BC) of our production environments daily and then stream that to the VTL and tape. The downtime costs to the company justified the costs of having separate dedicated storage for the BCV/BCs. Thus I have a 4-hour, 8-hour and 12-hour tiered recovery strategy. Other places I have worked then purchased enough tape drives to ensure 4-hour backup windows, but this was well before VTLs. Finally while NetApp makes a good product you would still have to recover the NetApp product in the event of a critical failure. With a VTL you are ready to restore to any available non-NetApp storage that can be allocated to the server to get the environment online first while the NetApp is being recovered.
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  • Maupe01
    You bring up some very good points. True, the NETAPP filers are known to take performance hits once the storage utilization exceeds 80 percent. And there's certainly performance overhead in managing snapshots as well. But, if we provisioned enough storage on the Netapp to remain under that 80% threshold and used SNAPSHOT, don't you think that would be a more efficient and cost effective solution ??? SNAPSHOTS are instantaneous and they are very easy to restore from. With VTL, you need to copy there first, and then clone to physical tape for offsite recovery. Then there's the licensing costs involved for the backup software. Lastly, if the Netapp were to have a critical failure, you could use the VTL to recover to non-Netapp storage while the Netapp was being rebuilt. But if you don't have the alternate storage(which we don't), you can't recover anything. Certainly not the 20+ TB of data on our Netapp. I would think we could have the tapes recalled from offsite well before the netapp was recovered. In our case, I just think it makes more sense to throw a few $$ at more Netapp storage, rather than several $$$$ at a VTL solution. I appreciate all your feedback and would like to hear anything more you would like to add to this discussion. It's an interesting debate both ways..... Thanks DeathRider - nice pen-name
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  • NetappGuy
    What about using NetApp SnapVault for backup so you have point in time restores outside of SnapShots, this could be a much smaller second system in the same Data Center.   We use a FAS2240 with SATA drives to backup our central system using Protection Manager for the GUI to manage.  We are moving to SyncSort to have a catalog and get P2V from any backup to our VM enviroment.  Sure beats the hardware cost and management of VTL solutions.
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