Leveraging Storage Snapshots with NetVault for VMware Data Protection

One of the most effective ways to protect virtual machines is by leveraging the primary storage arrays on which the VMs are stored. This method uses array snapshots to create quick copies of the file system. These point-in-time copies of the data are then moved to secondary storage for archival. Using storage for backups has the following advantages:

  • Fast backups: Time of backup is only a few seconds. Typically there is no downtime involved.
  • Near online recovery: Data stored on the secondary filer is available for near-immediate restore for quick recovery.
  • Protecting Linked-clones: When using Linked clones (for VMware Cloud Director VMs/vApps or for VDI implementations or if using Quest’s vWorkspace solutions), VMFS snapshots are not supported. The only way would be to leverage storage snapshots.

Many backup products support leveraging array snapshots to perform backups, but using NetVault has added advantages:

  • Fast Indexing: NetVault captures the metadata for easy restore
  • Direct Access Restore: Using NetVault console, directly select the content to restore and perform restore from the backup media to storage – either to the original location or to an alternate location.
  • Local or filer-to-filer backup and restore: NetVault not only does backups or restores inside a filer, but can also move the data from one NetApp filer to another filer. A complete backup/restore solution can be implemented using the plug-in.
  • Support for OSSV systems: The steps described below are available for NetApp filers as well as systems running NetApp’s OSSV software.
  • One backup solution for all platforms: Using NetVault, customers get one solution to protect all their application data: Exchange, SQL servers, Oracle databases, VMware or Microsoft Hyper-v virtualization or any of the physical servers. Find out more about this at https://www.quest.com/products/netvault-backup/.

We will look today at how to use SnapVault plug-in with VMware virtualization. Complete details can be found by downloading NetVault: BackupSnapVault Manager Plugin User’s Guide from support.quest.com.


  • Configure the NetVault: Backup server and NetApp filers

After you have the NetVault backup server configured, and SnapVault plug-in installed, perform the following steps to configure filers with NetVault server

    • Login to NetApp primary and secondary files and enable SnapVault software using commands:
  •  On SV Primary

                                            options snapvault.enable on            options SnapVault.access <secondary>

    • On SV Secondary:

                                             options snapvault.enable onoptions SnapVault.access <Primary>

    • The next step is to install the NetApp’s SnapVault Client software on the primary storage filer(s). Make note of the username and password that the client is going to use
    • After Client is installed, on the NetVault server GUI, open the SnapVault plug-in menu and select SV Primary item. Select “Add Primary” and enter the information requested in the pop-up. You can use the default username and password or use the one set when installing the client software in the step above.
    • SnapVault uses NDMP ports to do the data transfer between filers. If you would like to use a separate IP address to transfer data, then you should enter that address in the dialogue. This is an important consideration that will impact the data transfer speed.
    • Add SV Secondary filer on which the data will be stored, using “Add SV Secondary” menu item.
    • The SnapVault plug-in will enable A-SIS de-duplication by default. If you want to disable it, then use the “Configure” option and de-select the option.
  • No special configuration is necessary on the VMware servers or vCenter servers.
  • Set the initialization window.
    •                    This is when most data transfer will take place since this is the first time that the primary will be copied to the secondary.


  • Completing the configuration.
    • Remember that the secondary filer is the driver of this process, and controls the activities between primary and secondary filers. This allows users to save resources on the primary filer.


    • You can also set the values for network throttle to limit the bandwidth used for copying the data. You should look at the frequency of backup and data backed up periodically in order to make sure that the backups are running optimally.
    • Establish relationships between primary and secondary volumes. If you are using more than one primary to backup to one secondary, then create secondary volumes with easy-to-identify names.

That’s it. Now you are using the power of your NetApp storage to backup your VMs. Restore Restores are the easiest part of the whole setup! There are no messy storage adapter rescanning or datastore additions necessary! Just open the NetVault: Backup GUI and go to the SnapVault plug-in. You will be able to see your backup volumes that you used to establish the relationship. Because the backups are stored in the native format, you can view all directories under which the VMs are stored.If you are restoring the VMs to an alternative filer, you can start restoring right away. If VMs are to be restored to original filer, then you first have to release the relationship between the primary and secondary volumes. Using this method:

      • Restore all the VMs on the datastore in one go.
      • Do a full restore of one or more VMs

The restores happen between the filers and not the servers, thus conserving production resources.


Once data is restored, you will have to import the VMs into the vCenter inventory. Since these are the same VMs that exist in the vCenter database, you will not have to re-GUID them.