Choose your own adventure with Snapshots?

It must have been that spring cleaning bug, but I was fumbling through the garage recently when I found some of my old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that I had as a kid. I loved those things – they’re books in which the reader can participate and make choices along the way and can end with any number of different outcomes.

Well, any time you’re cleaning old junk you’re bound to get distracted and reminisce. This time was no different because I just couldn’t help myself and started reading one of these books.

At the beginning, there’s a warning that if you make a mistake “you cannot go back!” However it didn’t take long before I found myself using an old trick in which I had every one of my fingers stuck between several pages as bookmarks, so in case I “died” I could go back.

Figure 1. No going back!

It was at this point I realized that my fingers were not necessarily a bookmark, but were really more of a snapshot so that I could go back and recover and continue on as though nothing had happened.

What a twist of irony that in the storage industry, everyone talks about their “me too” array as having snapshot support, and yet every other 8-year-old kid and I were doing ‘snapshots’ 30 years ago! How passé snapshots are!

“Being able to quickly and easily recover emails, databases, or VDI golden templates, etc., is invaluable in any IT environment.”

Ok, so snapshots have been around and are like a pair of denim jeans and everybody wears them. But it’s not because they look good: it’s because snapshots are an extremely useful tool for storage administrators. Being able to quickly and easily recover emails, databases, or VDI golden templates, etc., is invaluable in any IT environment.

Being able to recover a snapshot and ‘go back’ (See our SQL recovery video) has 2 variations on the IntelliFlash array.

Rollback: this quickly rolls any LUN or share back to a specific point in time.

Clone of a snapshot: this spawns a separate LUN or share while maintaining the original for continuous access. The cloned LUN or share can be used for data mining, test and development or recovery of specific data. When you’re done you can simply toss it away for tidiness.

Speaking of tidiness, can you see the eyesore screenshot below? You might think that’s what a snapshot / clone tree would look like over time. Actually it’s one of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books mapped out logically. It’s a strange resemblance between the two!

“Tegile uses redirect on write technology so at creation our snapshots consume virtually no space.

If you’re not familiar with the IntelliFlash array you’re probably now thinking that all those snapshots are going to take up way too much space. Fear not, Tegile uses redirect on write technology so at creation our snapshots consume virtually no space. Space is only consumed by new data or for pointers to old data when data is changed. Also Tegile’s famous inline deduplication and compression technology minimizes capacity usage so you can snap to your heart’s content.

Making snapshots

Taking a closer look at the IntelliFlash UI you can see a very simple layout to manage all of the snapshots. The screenshot below shows the Snapshots tab from the project level.

  • Projects are an extremely convenient organizational structure which holds multiple LUNs and/or shares.
  • All settings are the same for each LUN or share within a project. Note: per LUN / share settings are also available.

A snapshot taken at the project level will snap every LUN or share in that project at the exact same time. This is how Tegile does application consistent snaps for Exchange and SQL in conjunction with the Tegile Data Protection Service (TDPS).

Figure 2. Snapshot management page

The screenshot above highlights three main areas of snapshot management:

  1. The green circle highlights the ease of adding a manual snap or deleting any of the existing manual or scheduled snaps.
  2. The purple circle highlights the previously mentioned two recovery options for a snapshot – rollback and clone.
  3. The blue circle highlights the scheduled snapshot menu button.

Clicking the button inside the blue circle will pull up the Manage Schedules window (see below). Here is where you “choose your own adventure,” if you will. How many fingers do you want to use as place holders in your story so that you can go back if needed?

Figure 3. Manage snapshot schedule

Luckily the IntelliFlash array has more than 10 fingers, so it’s essentially unlimited on how many snaps you can take. I jokingly have a few example snaps in the above screenshot because I can’t get that book I just read out of my mind. But your snapshots would be more focused on snaps of your exchange database, VDI environment or home directories and so on.

So, free up those fingers, snap away and don’t worry about choosing the right path. With Tegile snapshots, you can always go back!

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