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Sep 11 2017

The FUJITSU Storage ETERNUS CS200c Screen Demos, Pt. 5: Application-aware Backup


Ever since its debut in 2014, our all-in-one data protection appliance has been deployed by numerous businesses of all sizes in order to implement enterprise-class backup and recovery. One key reason for this success lies in a unique combination of reliable Fujitsu hardware and industry-leading Commvault software functionalities that ensure the appliance is equally useful in physical and virtualized environments. Our summer series of screen demos offers comprehensive insights into the ETERNUS CS200c's rich and varied feature set. This week, we will focus on a functionality named application-aware backup.

As we have pointed out repeatedly over the course of the summer, complete and consistent VM backups are absolutely critical for companies that want to achieve the maximum level of data protection in an age where virtualization meets with tough legal and operational requirements. That's particularly important if the firms in question happen to have created a 'zoo' of dedicated VMs to run business-critical applications such as Microsoft Exchange/SharePoint/SQL Server or central Oracle databases in Windows or Linux environments. Just imagine the disruption and imbroglio that would occur if one of those central VMs – and thereby the application – suddenly took a nosedive and couldn't be restored to its last good state within a reasonable time frame: A massive pile of uncompleted transactions, unanswered queries and service requests, important mails that weren't sent or received... Even if all IT and office hands are on deck, it might take hours or even days to not only bring the affected VM back to life, but resume service as it should be – and certainly was before the crash took place.

Fujitsu's ETERNUS CS200c data protection appliance powered by Commvault software helps IT departments to steer clear of such nasty surprises. To prevent data losses and potentially corrupted backups and restores, the appliance offers a functionality called application-aware backup, i.e. an automated method of capturing the state of application data – including those in memory and pending transactions – at the time of the backup. Put simply, the function knows in advance which data must be preserved to create a comprehensive, coherent 'copy' of the VM/application that can be used to bring it back to a workable state. As a result, the appliance will support backup and recovery of physical and virtual environments for a wide range of applications running under various guest OS's (Windows, Linux, UNIX), hypervisors (VMware, Hyper-V, OpenStack, Amazon, Red Hat and Oracle) or in Oracle and SAP environments.


Fig. 1: The ETERNUS CS200c data protection appliance powered by Commvault uses software agents and plug-ins to perform application-aware backups

To achieve its goals, the application-aware backup functionality is subdivided into two parts that use a combination of Commvault software components to carry out the necessary steps. These components are the Media Agent (MA), the Virtual Server Agent (VSA), the Application Plug-in option (APPL), and finally CommServe (CS), which acts as the central management component. The specific backup process consists of two steps:

  • In the first step, the administrator executes a VSA backup of the virtual machine in question, which may be a streaming or a snapshot backup. This first step automatically triggers the second one below.
  • The actual application backup, which relies on Commvault's IntelliSnap feature, creates a snapshot of the application that needs to be backed up in its current state.

During the application-aware backup, the application is first brought to a halt ("quiesced" in admin jargon) before its memory is flushed and pending writes are completed. The backup function then creates an application-consistent snapshot of all application data, complete with an index and catalog to enable granular restores. Once this software snapshot has been taken, the application resumes its work. Administrators who are working with large sets of independent, VM-based applications will definitely welcome the relief that this new feature provides – all they need to do is mark the matching checkbox in the backup options of their CommServe GUI. In addition, they should check the box for granular recovery to permit restores of single files and VMs.


Fig. 2: Configuring application-aware backups is a breeze with the CommServe GUI

As you would expect, our screen demo "Application crashed and data gone? Use ETERNUS CS200c Powered by Commvault for backup!" shows a live example of an application-aware backup; it is available at YouTube. For detailed information, please refer to the chapter on application-aware backups in Commvault's online documentation.

Helga Eppig


About the Author:

Helga Eppig

International Product Marketing Storage, Fujitsu


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