EMC AppSync 2.2 SP2 Is Out!

Its not a secret that copy management plays an Huge role with our customers, they have been looking for ways to utilize array based snapshots without impacting the performance of the parental volumes for ages, the best proof is the fact that clones still are widely used by so many customers out there and its not because of “DR”, its simply because customers are afraid of impacting their “crown jewels”, e.g, the primary DB.

The bigger issue than just performance impact is the data growth (or should I say, explosion) due to copies, IDC predict that more than 60% of the data we store is derived from the actual copies as oppose to the primary data itself.

We have been shipping our unique snapshots mechanism which we are now calling “XVC” (XtremIO Virtual Copies”) since April 2014 and it’s been highly successful by our customers, almost overnight, we started to see an adoption of XtremIO for this practical use case.

Talking to our customers (and I do that a lot), there has always been one repeated feedback in regards to snapshots, “we LOVE it but we want a single engine that can automate, orchestrate and provide a self-service for our applications owners (mainly DBA’s) to do it all from one place”.

So back in December 2014, we announced the first version of Appsync that integrates with XtremIO, I highly encourage you to first have a read about it here, https://itzikr.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/protecting-your-vms-with-emc-appsync-xtremio-snapshots/

EMC’s AppSync enables Oracle / MS SQL database copy management automation to deliver a “self-service” experience to create, protect and recover databases in minutes versus traditional database lifecycle management with manual or script driven provisioning, protection and recovery that take hours to days and require an DBA and storage administrator.

AppSync takes care of the provisioning in 3 modes. On-demand , Scheduled and Expired. While the first 2 are meant for provisioning while the third option is related to the removal of database copies which were created earlier. During the copy process the replication operation is taken care by the RecoverPoint or VMAX or VNX replication tools. We need to add the storage option or RecoverPoint Appliance option to take the advantage for the replication operation.

In the first option we can take the copy of the database as per our convenience while in the second option we can schedule the operation without any DBAs intervention.

The second option ensures that the performance of the production database is not impacted and the database copies can be created during business off-hours.

The third option purges the database copies created earlier and it recovers the earlier used capacities. Here we can also schedule the Rotation policy where the purging stuff can happen automatically.

..it wasn’t perfect, it lacked the ability to do an XtremIO XVC refresh / restore, refresh is the use case that is so popular, imagine the following scenario, you have a production DB running on XtremIO, you then want to take a point in time copy of this DB volume(s) and present these to your test/dev environment to run some analytics on it or maybe just to run your newly launched code against, you then want to repeat this process every night / week/month basically, refreshing your test/dev with the latest copy of your production DBs volumes, this is what Appsync now support, XtremIO XVC refresh / restore + the Support for RecoverPoint with XtremIO, it support the following applications, Oracle, MS SQL, MS Exchange and vSphere

Now let’s have a more detailed explanation for all the features that AppSync 2.2 SP2 support with XtremIO

RESTORE SUPPORT FOR XTREMIO 4.0 COPIES

restore

In AppSync 2.2.2 user can restore the copies created on XtremIO 4.0.
Copies which are created on XtremIO 3.x or less are still not restorable and user needs to follow the manual steps in order to
restore those copies.
If user upgrades the XtremIO from 3.x or below to XtremIO 4.0
then the copies created on XtremIO 3.x or below will be restorable.
As part of restore, XtremIO created snapshots are kept under a new tag so that admin can take appropriate action on these
snapshots. ( /Volumes/AppSyncSnapshots/RestoredSnapShots )


REFRESH SUPPORT FOR XTREMIO 4.0 COPIES

This is the crown jewels of the AppSync product which now includes support for XtremIO, the “refresh” operation has many use cases, lets cover some of them

refresh

the most common one is refreshing your test / dev DBs with the latest copy of your production environment every X interval, it can be once a night, once a week etc, it can be refreshing only some of your test / dev copies, the point is that now for the first time, you can work on your test/dev environment without messing with your production instance and all of this, with a click of a button


XtremIO makes the DBA’s production maintenance easier:

  • Run DBCC against a snapshot of your database and move the CPU usage and locking off your production servers.
  • Verify your backup chain by restoring full, differential and log backups without using up extra space.
  • Make full backups from a snapshot of the database.

reporting

Quoting some customers of ours from EMC World:

“Our busiest season is in August, when students come back to school in waves and we learn which of the features we deployed over the summer don’t actually scale. This past August, we had the XtremIO in place, so our I/O speeds were great – so great that CPU on the production SQL cluster became our bottleneck.

We sat in the high 90s for weeks while developers scrambled to refactor queries.

To alleviate some of the CPU pressure, we leveraged XtremIO snapshots and offloaded some heavy real-time reports to another SQL box.

Another way to scale out is to deploy SQL Server AlwaysOn, and enjoy a transactionally consistent copy (or three) of your database without any space penalty thanks to inline deduplication. We’re deploying AlwaysOn this month with a copy of the database for each of our intensive workloads. Before XtremIO, my IT team would just have laughed at me if I’d asked for that many spindles. Now I can do it without buying anything.

Don’t have SQL Server Enterprise? Snap a copy of the database to another production server and point read-only workloads that can use point-in-time data at it. Refresh them every hour, every night or whatever makes sense for your application.”


Upgrading SQL Server is much safer with XtremIO’s snapshots.

  • Protect the database by snapping it prior to a SQL Server – if the upgrade is a disaster, you can point SQL Server at the snapshot and recover.
  • Test the upgrade on a snap of the database until you get all the scripting right.
  • Run through the upgrade on a snap and get a real sense for how long the upgrade will take.

Snapshots are also great for providing safety and predictability around application updates and deployments.

LENGTH OF VOLUME NAME IS INCREASED.

XtremIO 3.x and below had a restriction of volume name length of 64 characters and hence AppSync used to recommend
volume name to be 40 characters in length ( to support repurposing use case and snapshots).

XtremIO 4.0 has increased the volume name character length limit to 128 and hence AppSync recommends the volume length
to be less then 104 characters ( to support repurposing use case and snapshots).

MULTIPLE XTREMIO MANAGED BY SINGLE XMS


AppSync 2.2.2 supports the configuration where user can
manage multiple XtremIO arrays under one XMS.



RecoverPoint SUPPORT FOR XTREMIO 4.0

From AppSync 2.2.2 onwards, users can create RecoverPoint bookmarks with XtremIO 4.0 in the backend.
Mixed storage (VNX to XtremIO and vice versa is also supported) with both static and dynamic mount.
.Please follow the RecoverPoint guide to configure RecoverPoint consistency groups with XtremIO in backend.
RecoverPoint Repurposing is also supported for XtremIO 4.0.
Minimum RecoverPoint Version to be used is 4.1.2 in order to use XtremIO 4.0 in backend.

Parallel bookmarks are not supported if any volume in the group set is on an XtremIO array. That means users can’t
create simultaneous bookmarks on two RecoverPoint Consistency Groups. So AppSync also doesn’t protect two
consistency groups together in the same ServicePlan run. The recommendation is to have one Consistency Group
protection per service Plan run from Appsync if XtremIO 4.0 is in the backend.

RecoverPoint XtremIO bookmarks supported Image Access Mode is “Physical” while mounting RecoverPoint copies.

You can download Appsync from http://support.emc.com

You will have to install AppSync 2.1 and then upgrade to 2.2 SP1 followed by SP2, no external DB is needed, AppSync uses its own DB so the installation is literally “next->next” , done type of experience, the software is free for 90 days so I highly encourage you to take it for a spin!

Below you can see a demo of AppSync with Oracle DB,

and you can also see a demo of AppSync refreshing your dev/test environments with the latest production copy when it run against MS SQL running on Microsoft Clustering Services (MCSC)

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