Introducing SnapCenter 4.4

With the release of NetApp® SnapCenter® 4.4 this month, you’ll see many new features and enhancements.

What’s new in SnapCenter 4.4?

Here’s an overview of features grouped by category.

NetApp SnapCenter 4.4 features

We introduced these features based on the feedback we received from our customers and also on our examination of market trends.

Key enhancements in SnapCenter Server

  • SnapCenter 4.4 is qualified with NetApp ONTAP® 9.8.
  • With multiple resources to be protected, monitoring backup job status can be a time-consuming task. What if a mail server is down and you don’t receive a timely Backup Failed alert? Suppose that a new database is created by the business and the DBA forgot to include it in the backup task? How can you get a quick look at backup frequency across various database servers? SnapCenter already had reporting capabilities, but better performance and the addition of scheduling reports make it easy for administrators to get daily backup reports in their inbox or to generate daily, weekly, or monthly on-demand reports.
  • SnapCenter usability has been simplified. Retention of on-demand backups is aligned with scheduled backups. If you trigger an out-of-schedule existing backup job, the snapshot will be retained according to the scheduled policy. The on-demand backup gets deleted and is not managed separately.RBAC is also simplified. Storage provision access is explicitly granted to the user, so the administrator doesn’t have to grant storage permission to new users.
  • The NetApp SnapCenter Plug-In for Microsoft Exchange Server supports hybrid storage environments. So, if you have active databases on non NetApp storage and passive on NetApp storage, SnapCenter can now back up passive Exchange databases.

Major enhancements in SnapCenter Plug-In for Oracle Database

The recent Oracle plug-in 4.3.2 and the upcoming 4.4 boast a number of new features, performance upgrades, and qualifications. Our customers and partners should plan to deploy the enhanced, stable 4.4 release.

Support for Oracle IBM AIX systems

There’s good news for customers who have been waiting to get support for their Oracle Databases running on IBM AIX operating systems. The initial release of 4.4 supports both AIX OS 6.x and 7.x , as well as SAN environments, especially those that  are running standalone Oracle ASM and RAC ASM environments. Check out this video and learn how to add an AIX host with NetApp SnapCenter and autodiscover the databases.

 

Support for VMware layouts

With the increasing number of Oracle customers migrating to VMware virtualized environments, the lack of RAC ASM support in SnapCenter and SnapManager® for Oracle potentially delayed many customers from migrating. SnapCenter 4.4 supports VMware layouts that are backed by NFS, VMFS datastores, and RDM layouts.

Support for Oracle multitenancy architecture

The third major feature is support for Oracle multitenancy architecture. Oracle multitenancy was a new feature, way back in the Oracle 12c release. The original feature had limited capabilities, but it has matured to offer customers support for major SAP and Oracle business applications, as well as numerous other features. The primary purpose of Oracle multitenancy is database consolidation, which reduces the cost of the database infrastructure (overall TCO) by taking advantage of more powerful servers that include dozens of processor cores in a single server.

 

NetApp SnapCenter support for Oracle multitenancy architecture
Non-container-database (CDB) architecture will be unsupported starting with Oracle 20c, so it’s important to migrate your database to the latest 19c release, because earlier versions will reach end of support within a year or two.  SnapCenter 4.4 now supports backups at the CDB level and performs pluggable database (PDB) cloning to the same or to a different container database, PDB and PDB tablespace point-in-time recovery, and PDB full restores. With PDB clone support, customers can port these lightweight pluggable databases from one CDB backed by ONTAP storage to a different CDB backed by ONTAP or other storage vendor or by NetApp Cloud Volumes in AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud.Check out this video on how to clone a tenant from one container database to an alternate container.


Support for Oracle Automatic Storage Management Filter Driver (ASMFD)

The fourth major feature is support for the Oracle Automatic Storage Management Filter Driver (ASMFD). Prior to the Oracle Grid Infrastructure (GI) release 12.1.0.2, ASM Library (ASMLIB) was the only method to access storage devices by means of ASM disks and disk groups. This method had serious limitations. The ASM disks were owned by the GI home owner. Both the owner and any users belonging to an operating system group designated as the OSASM group could read from and write to ASM disks by using OS commands like strings, echo, dd, etc. This led to compromising the security of data as well as accidental corruption of the data in the ASM disks.With Oracle Grid Infrastructure release 12.1.0.2, Oracle introduced Oracle ASMFD, a new component that is installed with Oracle Grid Infrastructure. It is intended to overcome the limitations described earlier and to replace traditional ASMLIB. With  SnapCenter 4.3.2 and later, customers can confidently move their Oracle ASM from ASMLIB to ASMFD, while continuing to support all backup and recovery workflows.

 

Here are a few more additional features and qualifications:

  • Tablespace point-in-time recovery
  • Different cataloging of NetApp Snapshot™ copies with Oracle RMAN
  • Support for RHEL and Oracle Linux 8.x, SLES 15 SP1
  • Support for Oracle Database Standard Edition

To learn about best practices, read NetApp TR-4700, SnapCenter Plug-In for Oracle Database.

 

SnapManager for Oracle and SnapDrive® for UNIX will reach end of support by 2022. To continue using the same capabilities, along with next generation capabilities, new features and supportability, you need to migrate to NetApp SnapCenter. If you have any questions or require a POC, contact your local account rep.

SnapCenter Plug-In for VMWare vSphere

SnapCenter Plug-In for VMWare vSphere 4.4 was released in October 2020. Customers can now add a _recent suffix to the most recent Snapshot copy, which helps in copying it to NDMP storage using a third-party backup product.  The product also includes support for FlexGroup volumes for primary storage in NFS configurations.

 

We continue to introduce innovative ways to protect data and add value by providing better integration with ONTAP and enterprise applications.

 

To learn more about NetApp SnapCenter, refer to the SnapCenter Backup Management page.  For information about the latest updates, check out the demo videos available on the SnapCenter YouTube channel.

 

Manohar Kulkarni

Manohar Kulkarni is a Technical Marketing Engineer (TME) focusing on data protection of Microsoft applications on ONTAP storage systems at NetApp. Being in product management, he helps in product designing, strategizing, developing new ideas, and on a need basis providing consulting and sales assistance. He likes troubleshooting problems and coding to automate tasks to simplify day-to-day tasks.

Ebin Kadavi

Ebin Varghese Kadavy is a Technical Marketing Engineer in the Database solutions team. He is an Experienced Database Specialist with a demonstrated history of working more than 10 years in the information technology and services industry. He is Skilled in managing Oracle Databases, PostgreSQL Database, MySQL, Cassandra, Oracle Apps EBS, WebLogic Administration, and Unix.

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