Although SAN snapshots are pretty awesome, they become substantially more difficult to use in virtualized environments. This is mostly due to the fact that the SAN creates these snapshots on a per-volume level. In the database example, that might be a couple of different volumes (say, a log and data volume). However, in a virtualized environment, one very large volume could hold the disks for 20 or 30 servers -- so it's impossible to simply roll back the disk state for a single VM from the SAN.
Of course, restoring an entire VM from a snapshot could be done. In the VMware world, you'd present the point-in-time snapshot you want back to the vSphere host, mount it, find the target VM's files in the snapshot, add that VM into inventory, migrate it back onto its original volume, and fire it up. If you've licensed the Storage vMotion feature, you can even start the VM from the snapshot copy, then live-migrate the VM back onto the volume where it's supposed to live, providing for a speedy time-to-restore. If you're after a single file, you might end up with a roughly similar plan, except you'd track down the virtual disk file that has the data you want, mount it on the original VM, then pull the data out.
Veeam's Explorer for Snapshots feature promises to do all that work for you in far less time than you could do it manually -- all while using the same wizard-driven interface you may already be used to. In addition, you could use the same application and file-level restore capabilities for normal Veeam backups, including restoring individual files and individual Microsoft Exchange mail items. Given that it's included in all versions of Veeam Backup and Replication 6.5, there's no extra cost.
Filling a hole in HP's portfolio
It's interesting that HP chose to work with Veeam to develop this feature. (HP is promoting it heavily with the rebrand of HP's P4000 VSA into the StoreVirtual VSA.) Perhaps HP wants to take advantage of Veeam's high growth and reach its more than 43,000 customers, all of whom HP would love to sell server and storage gear to.
However, it may also be driven by a gap in HP's capability set: HP is one of the few major storage providers without a strong backup software offering for virtualization. I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen HP Data Protector deployed in the field, usually only in legacy HP-UX shops.
If that's true, I wonder if Veeam will be able to attract other storage vendors. The great wave of consolidation has seen most of the popular storage startups gobbled up by the larger providers, so there are only a few major storage vendors that don't already have a horse in the backup software race. EMC markets Networker and Avamar; at the same time, Dell has had strong ties to both Commvault and Symantec, owns Appassure, and recently purchased Quest Software -- the maker of vRanger, Veeam's primary competitor in the virtualization backup space.
This article, "Veeam eases SAN snapshot restoration," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Matt Prigge's Information Overload blog and follow the latest developments in storage at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.