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Keep file data safe with HPE 3PAR File Data Protection



HPE 3PAR File Persona keeps your file data safe during various failure conditions, including unintentional deletion or modification of files and folders, administrative errors, or data center or storage system failures.

HPE blog (400x267).jpgAs your organization increasingly depends on business-critical file data services, data protection and recovery are essential for everyday business operations, especially during major failure or disaster events. These can be the consequence of security events, such as a malicious user deleting data, or malware corrupting data, or just carelessness of users. In any case, data protection and recovery is a precaution your organization can’t afford to neglect.

Many organizations usually consider various technologies and strategies for protecting, and reliably recovering business-critical data in a timely manner. The top factors for selecting technologies are: cost of downtime, backup windows, and maturity of technology.

HPE 3PAR StoreServ is a unified flash storage offering that provides fast, efficient and reliable block storage for application workloads. Its File Persona Software offers feature-rich file data services for user home directories, collaboration and data governance use cases. Using the same robust data protection technologies used for block data services, File Persona file shares are securely stored and protected against various critical failure conditions:

  • Unintentional deletion or modification of files or folders by users or application failures. This failure condition is observed quite frequently and requires rapid recovery times. Let’s face it, we all make mistakes and sometimes click the wrong button.
  • Administrative errors with misconfiguration, deletion of file systems, or file system corruption. This uncommon but drastic failure condition requires longer recovery times as the dataset to recover is larger.
  • Data center or storage system failures. This very rare case—provided various measures for redundancy are in place—is considered a disaster and, since a larger portion of the infrastructure is impacted, long recovery times are expected.

A very common problem with file storage systems while protecting for the above failure scenarios is the unpredictability of user generated data and the amount of machine or business generated data. Unbalanced file system structures and millions of files in file systems lead to time consuming tree-walks and force you to split and complicate your backup sets. Not with HPE File Persona software. Each failure scenario is addressed with the right technology to minimize effort and to maximize reliability.

img-1.jpgFor the most frequent failure condition, when files and folders are accidentally deleted by users or malfunctioning applications, File Persona offers File Store snapshots. These file system aware snapshots empower SMB, NFS and FTP users to recover their files and folders themselves using the Previous Versions tab in Windows Explorer or a hidden snapshot directory. Users simply browse through a list of versions of their files and folders and restore the items they need in-place or by copying them to a new location.

By enabling the users to recover their own file data, administrators are no longer tasked with these frequent restore operations, allowing them to focus more on innovating. (Or relaxing. I don’t judge.) The automatic snapshot rotation with customizable schedules and snapshot retention helps minimizing administrator’s involvement even further. Like everything on 3PAR, these snapshots are thin, and don’t require capacity reservation. (All the saved time and money could be invested in that hammock you always wanted. As I said, I don’t judge.)

Protection against more severe failure conditions is provided by Virtual Copy snapshots. You use them to protect and recover entire File Provisioning Groups (FPG), instances of the HPE proprietary Adaptive File System. It provides the same efficiency, reliability and scheduling flexibility as is available for other Virtual Volumes.

A positive side effect of using Virtual Copy snapshots for this purpose is that they are block-based snapshots, which means file counts, file sizes and file system structure have no impact on backup or recovery times. The only metric that matters is the number of changed blocks. Additionally, Virtual Copy snapshots not only protect the file data stored in a FPG, but along with it, metadata information. This metadata includes, among other things, configuration information about Virtual File Servers (VFS) and their IP addresses, quotas and share configuration. So not only the file data, but also the configuration of shares and VFSs are protected. 

img-2.jpgThis becomes extremely valuable when the storage system is replicated to another HPE 3PAR StoreServ system (or HPE StoreOnce, but we’ll get to that).

File Persona uses the synchronous or asynchronous periodic Remote Copy replication technology to enable fast and efficient recovery of FPGs in case of disasters.

Having the data and also metadata replicated to a secondary system makes the disaster recovery uncomplicated, and minimizes configuration effort. All of the data and also the configuration is available on the backup array.

At the same time, File Persona uses the same efficient, low-bandwidth replication infrastructure and transport (FC or Ethernet) that you already use for your Fibre Channel and iSCSI volumes. And it retains this efficiency over time, independent of number of files stored, or the file system structure. It operates on the same level as other block volumes, eliminating tree-walks or a separate replication configuration.

img-3.jpgLastly, for efficient long-term retention of backups, HPE Recovery Manager Central (RMC) enables the fastest way to transfer snapshots to HPE StoreOnce using Express Protect. It transfers only the deduplicated changes between snapshots, which makes backups extremely quick. Similar to Virtual Copy and Remote Copy, it operates on blocks (I think you know already where I’m going with this). So compared to traditional (NDMP or share-based backups) it does not require the undesired tree-walks to identify files that have changed and it also includes the previously mentioned metadata to recover the systems configuration.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still various reasons to use traditional backup technologies like NDMP and share-based backups—like managing and monitoring all backup jobs in the IT infrastructure with an ISV, for example. And 3PAR conveniently provides support for both of these backup methods with support for a variety of industry leading backup ISVs. This means you have the flexibility to choose the right strategy for your needs.

What is certain is that not having to restore data at all, is desirable. And there are technologies to minimize the chances. The antivirus capability of File Persona uses external virus scan enginesiCAP—to protect against malicious content that can cause data to be unusable. The File Lock functionality prevents accidental deletion and modification of WORM (Write Once Read Many) enabled and retained files. And if a user still needs to access a previous version of a file or folder, or if an administrator needs to roll back an entire file system, or perform disaster recovery, 3PAR File Persona provides all the technologies to do so.

Learn more—and feedback welcome!

Let me know in the comments if you would like to see other scenarios covered or how you are using 3PAR data protection technologies to secure your file storage environment today.

If you want to learn more or implement File Persona with all of its security and data protection technologies, visit the following informational web pages:

HPE 3PAR File Persona Software product documentation

HPE 3PAR File Persona product overview


 Meet Around the Storage Block blogger Tobias Flitsch, WW Technical Product Manager, HPE Storage. Tobias has been working in storage for more than seven years. As a former solution architect and now as a technical product manager, his focus is on various different scale-up and scale-out file and object storage solutions.



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