Microsoft Exchange Server is a widely used messaging platform for email communication, group scheduling, and calendaring for collaboration purposes. Failure at any level of storage, server, or network can result in operational and financial loss. This possibility emphasizes the need to plan for data protection, disaster recovery, and high availability, to enable quick recovery with little or no data loss.

Challenges in Data Protection for Microsoft Exchange

Too expensive. As Exchange data grows exponentially, companies struggle with the rising cost of protecting that data.

 

Organizations have application, database, and virtualization specialists who are required to back up their Exchange data but might not be responsible for the storage infrastructure. Also, storage and backup budgets remain flat, unable to keep pace with the expense of protecting the company’s data.

 

Too complex. Today’s backup and recovery environments are large and often multiple.

 

With an ever-increasing number of critical applications to protect, along with complex backup architectures, multiple backup apps, and error-prone legacy technologies, backup is incredibly complex and can pose a serious risk to the enterprise.

 

Too slow. Backup and recovery can’t keep up with users’ requirements.

 

Users expect instant recovery and minimal data loss, but legacy backup and recovery strategies can’t keep pace. As a result, many organizations fail to meet backup and recovery windows as data footprints grow and bandwidth stays the same.

 

Too risky. Legacy technologies increase organizations’ risk exposure.

Many organizations don’t perform periodic restores of their test environments, which means that they don’t know whether or not they can actually recover data in the event of loss. This can result in increased downtime, loss of data, and decreased ability to test.

 

NetApp SnapCenter 4.0 helps you overcome these challenges. SnapCenter 4.0 is a unified, scalable data protection and management platform, designed to enable Exchange-aware, VSS-based backups of mailbox databases, for automating complex, manual, and time-consuming processes associated with the backup and recovery of these databases.  SnapCenter supports data protection for Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 and 2016 in both standalone and database availability group (DAG) configurations. Businesses can meet their data-protection SLAs by using SnapCenter, which leverages NetApp ONTAP® data management capabilities, including:

  • NetApp Snapshottechnology. Creates frequent application-consistent, space-efficient backups in minutes without affecting Microsoft Exchange. SnapCenter tightly integrates with the Microsoft Windows VSS framework for the creation of application-consistent Snapshot copies of Exchange databases, with no downtime for the production database.
  • NetApp SnapRestore®technology. Enables rapid granular restores and application-consistent, point-in-time recovery. Therefore, it is not necessary to keep a lagged copy of the DAG database, saving additional storage.

SnapCenter Makes an Administrator’s Life Easier

SnapCenter introduces a scalable backup model with portable backups for Microsoft Exchange resources. The backup operation can essentially be offloaded to one or more replica copies instead of backing up all (active and passive) replicas, thereby reducing load on production servers and reducing space and snapshot management overhead. Those snapshots can be used to perform an up-to-the-minute or point-in-time restore on the active server.

 

SnapCenter uses role-based access control (RBAC) to delegate functionality to application and database owners while retaining oversight and control by a central storage infrastructure administrator. This level of control and security frees storage administrators from tedious tasks that application and database owners can do for themselves. At the same time, it protects the overall infrastructure from bullying applications and from infrastructure abuse, even by well-intentioned colleagues. SnapCenter provides application- or database-specific workflows tailored to meet the needs of application, database, and virtualization infrastructure administrators. Because each application and database has a unique workflow, application and database owners find their delegated workflows familiar and well suited to their use. What you see depends on the settings in the SnapCenter RBAC.  This means that you can assign your Exchange DBAs to see only hosts, storage systems, and policies related to Exchange, while your SQL DBAs can see only the assets and information related to SQL Server.

 

The Dashboard gives you a first glance into the health of your system, the number of Exchange hosts and storage systems, the status of your data protection jobs, your database protection status, the number of backup and restore jobs, and graphs related to a specific server or database.

 

The Reports page offers a detailed view into data protection jobs such as backup, restore, and plug-in information. You can run reports about all jobs of the selected type (backup or restore) and jobs for a specific Exchange host. You can also run reports about jobs for a specific resource, resource group, policy, and status (completed, failed, or warning), and jobs for a specific resource. The plug-in report contains details about resource protection. You can export reports in various formats and print them.

 

On the Monitor page, you can view jobs, schedules, events, and logs. The Activity pane displays the five most recent operations performed. The Activity pane also shows when the operation was initiated and the status of the operation.

 

The following figure shows SnapCenter data protection of a Microsoft Exchange database availability group.

What’s Next?

To learn about installing the SnapCenter Plug-in for Microsoft Server Exchange, watch this video.

Cheryl George

Cheryl George is a Technical Marketing Engineer with over 15 years of experience in everything Microsoft and its data protection. Being in Product Management, she helps build state-of-the-art products and enterprise solutions which help solve real-world customer and business problems. Customer engagements is what she enjoys the most.

Cheryl is music enthusiast. She maintains her Zen through yoga and mindful walking. She loves to travel but the irony is that it mostly happens in the head.