NetApp automates backup for VMware virtual servers

Also disclosed long-term plans to extend tool to virtual servers of Microsoft, Citrix, Oracle

Network Appliance Inc. today unveiled software that it said can ease backup and storage management tasks for corporate IT operations running VMware Inc. virtual servers.

NetApp's new SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure software is designed to allow IT administrators to perform backup and recovery of virtual machine instances and to take snapshots of data running on multiple virtual servers, the company said.

The new software is slated to ship in April at a price of $2,000 per physical server, said NetApp officials.

Patrick Rogers, vice president of solutions marketing at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based NetApp, said that while the initial version of the software supports only VMware virtual machines, future versions will include support for virtualization hypervisors from Microsoft Corp., Citrix Systems Inc. Virtual Iron Software Inc. and Oracle Corp. He declined to say when those versions will ship.

Rogers did say that the software can function across storage-area network and network-attached storage architectures.

NetApp said it has added VMware support to all of its Windows-based SnapManager implementations, including those for the Microsoft Exchange, SQL server database and SharePoint products and for the Oracle Corp. database. Rogers said this allows NetApp's data management tools to take snapshots and operate within both virtual machine and physical server deployments.

Tony Edelbrock, senior systems administrator at Tucson Electric Power in Arizona, plans to begin testing SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure by the time it ships in April. The utility currently uses home-built software to manage its VMware virtual servers because it couldn't wait for the NetApp offering.

"We've been waiting for a SnapManager [version for VMware] for a year and a half. We couldn't wait, so we had to go with something a little more intuitive," said Edelbrock. Tucson Electric Power has removed the virtual consolidated backup functionality from VMware and is using NetApp to take snapshots of virtual machine information.

Edelbrock said he hopes SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure offers strong management capabilities and built-in VMware support. "If [NetApp has] a good product, we'll definitely use it. I'd rather have a supported solution than what we're doing right now," he remarked.

Tucson Electric Power runs 40 VMware ESX servers and 275 virtual servers and stores about 110TB of data, noted Edelbrock. The utility also runs NetApp FAS3050 and FAS3020 filer cluster and FAS3040 midrange storage systems, he said.

The company today also unveiled the Provisioning Manager software, which it said will allow administrators to set policies to simplify handling of massive amounts of data sets. The software can be used to augment capacity utilization and speed up storage provisioning processes in virtual and physical server realms, remarked Rogers. Provisioning Manager will be available in April, with pricing starting at $750 for a Tier 1 storage system.

NetApp also said it will roll out an upgraded version of its Data OnTap 7.3 software in April. The new version will feature enhanced de-duplication capabilities, full production support of NFS Version 4, and the ability to remove parity disk counts from aggregate capacity totals.

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