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When using all products from one vendor, such as EMC, the steps are usually more straightforward. The following sequence presumes the SnapView feature on EMC Clariion is licensed and that the Clariion has sufficient storage capacity to create the full-volume copy.

  • EMC's NetWorker Module for Microsoft Exchange agent recognizes EMC's Clariion hardware VSS provider for SnapView and communicates with the Clariion through TCP/IP.
  • NetWorker instructs the Exchange writer to quiesce the Exchange database.
  • SnapView creates the full volume copy on the Clariion storage system.
  • SnapView notifies the backup software after the full volume copy is created.
  • The backup software notifies the Exchange writer to take the Exchange database out of its quiesced state and resume email processing.
In environments where software and hardware from different vendors is used, admins need to take additional steps. For instance, they must verify that the backup software supports calls to the hardware VSS provider from the storage system on which the Exchange database resides. They'll also need to place the Exchange database on the volumes of the storage system that the hardware VSS provider will call if it's not already there.

If multiple hardware VSS providers are available, Symantec's Veritas NetBackup (and others) allow admins to select the hardware VSS provider they desire and then configure the type of copy--full-volume copy

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or copy-on-write--that they want the storage system to create (assuming the system supports these two types of copies). In instances where storage systems support only shadow copies, these copies are still subject to the same recoverability and availability limitations found in the VSS provider on Windows 2003 Server.

Even with VSS support, backup software often fails to meet the critical nature of Exchange. Techniques such as server clustering satisfy some of these needs, but for immediate offsite Exchange availability and recoverability in the event of loss of the primary Exchange server or site, specialized software and hardware is needed.

This was first published in September 2007

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