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We recently purchased an EMC Clariion AX4 SAN and we're using it to provide storage for our Hyper-V virtual machines. I've already got the servers registered with it and configured the failover cluster CSV's, etc.

I'm wanting to figure out what I have to do to set up the VSS Provider for the SAN, so that Microsoft Data Protection Manager can use it to backup the virtual machines. I'm new when it comes to Clariion SAN's, so I have no idea how to set up the VSS provider.

I downloaded something from Powerlink that was labeled VSS Provider and installed it on one of the machines connected to the SAN. It had something to do with a Solutions Enabler (I don't know what that is), but it doesn't really seem like it did anything.

I read something that suggested I'd need to have Navisphere Manager to use the VSS Provider on the AX4, but we didn't purchase that - we're just using Navisphere Express.

Can anyone help me figure out how to get the VSS Provider up and running?

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Can you give a bit more detail on what EMC components/software was required and where they were installed? Thanks Mark –  user118220 Apr 20 '12 at 10:02

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

You need to have Navisphere Manager(not the express version) as well as the Snapshot software enabler installed on the AX4. This is in addition to the VSS provider that you have already installed on your cluster hosts. This will allow you to use DPM for hardware based snapshots.

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That's what I was afraid of. Thanks! –  Ryan Mar 5 '12 at 4:22

I'm not an EMC AX4 user, so you'll have to take this as general advice rather than a specific to your scenario example. I use DPM with a hardware VSS provider (in my case on a Fujitsu SX80 iscsi array - which is a Dot Hill OEM so it's the same as HP MSA 2012i). I use this to backup Hyper V VMs on CSVs.

There are three obvious requirements on the VSS provider, be installed on every host machine that you are backing up from, i.e. every node in your cluster, it must be compatible with your server OS (2008 R2), and it must be compatible with the array.

When a scheduled DPM backup is due, the DPM agent on that machine will instruct the local VSS provider to trigger a snapshot on the array (on a CSV, this will be triggered on the CSV current owner). Different SANs will accept this trigger in different ways. For example on my array you must first snapshot enable the volume that is being backed up (and to do so, you must configure a storage pool) using the snapshot licenses that come with the array.

In actual fact, the storage pool barely gets used, and although my array is licensed for 32 snapshots, it only uses 1 per backed up volume at any given time, so I'm currently using only around 4 licenses. The reason for this is that DPM utilises a hardware snapshot to copy data to the DPM storage pool and then it discards the snapshot. In DPM the storage pool is the authoratitive backup, not the hardware snapshots, and this is true for all arrays.

I don't know anything about Navisphere manager, other than it looks at first glance like a management console that scales up to several SANs and arrays. I may be wrong, but I'd doubt if VSS hardware snapshots were dependent on this. The VSS provider has a tiny footprint, and as I've written, DPM simply seeks a VSS provider to trigger the snapshot, it won't be looking to negotiate with a management console.

NB: I've only just noticed that you posted this on Jan 8, so I'd assume that you got it sorted already. Still, it would be worth putting your solution up here as well, so that other Serverfault visitors asking the same question can find the answer.

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