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Best Practices Guide

BACKUP USING COMMVAULT SIMPANA


WITH EMC ISILON

Abstract
This white paper outlines best practices for deploying EMC Isilon
scale-out storage with CommVault Simpana. EMC Isilon
seamlessly integrates with Simpana to provide a flexible and
scalable backup solution.
April 2014

Copyright 2014 EMC Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


EMC believes the information in this publication is accurate as of
its publication date. The information is subject to change without
notice.
The information in this publication is provided as is. EMC
Corporation makes no representations or warranties of any kind
with respect to the information in this publication, and
specifically disclaims implied warranties of merchantability or
fitness for a particular purpose.
Use, copying, and distribution of any EMC software described in
this publication requires an applicable software license.
For the most up-to-date listing of EMC product names, see EMC
Corporation Trademarks on EMC.com.
EMC2, EMC, the EMC logo, Isilon, OneFS, and SmartLock are
registered trademarks or trademarks of EMC Corporation in the
United States and other countries. All other trademarks used
herein are the property of their respective owners.
Part Number H13077

Backup Using CommVault Simpana with EMC Isilon

Table of Contents
Executive Summary ........................................................................................ 4
Audience .....................................................................................................5
Terminology.................................................................................................5
Solution Components ....................................................................................6
Architecture Overview.................................................................................... 6
Best practices................................................................................................. 7
Networking ..................................................................................................7
Basic .......................................................................................................7
Advanced .................................................................................................9
Performance ................................................................................................9
Basic .......................................................................................................9
Advanced ............................................................................................... 10
Configuration ............................................................................................... 11
Isilon Storage Platform Configuration ............................................................ 11
Basic ..................................................................................................... 11
Advanced ............................................................................................... 12
CommVault Simpana Configuration ............................................................... 14
Basic ..................................................................................................... 14
Advanced ............................................................................................... 19
Conclusion.................................................................................................... 20
About EMC .................................................................................................... 21

Backup Using CommVault Simpana with EMC Isilon

Executive Summary
This paper describes the best practices and solution-specific configuration steps for
deployment of CommVault SimpanaTM with EMC Isilon for both basic and advanced
deployments. EMC Isilon scale-out NAS storage together with CommVault Simpana
provides a comprehensive, flexible and scalable backup and archive solution that lets
enterprises of all sizes address their backup needs; from data protection to
preservation while providing secure self-service access to data.
Backup challenges with traditional storage
1. Compounding effect of backups
Each year organizations are generating more data and keeping that data for longer.
This growth can be exponential, since traditionally many full backup copies are kept
weekly, monthly, and yearly. For example: If the most recent weekly backups are
kept for 8 weeks, monthly backups for 10 months (covering the remainder of the
year), and yearly backups for 7 years, then one file would have 25 copies just using
the backup algorithm. Using this example, just 40 TB of new data would need 1 PB of
storage. There are mechanisms to reduce some of the common data, like
compression, deduplication, and snapshots, but portions of the data will be unique or
not easily reduced.
This compounding growth affects the cost of tape even more, since many of these
data reduction mechanisms are not available, native tape drive compression is only
supported by tape. In addition, there are many often overlooked issues that need to
be considered when using tape the cost of secure off-site storage, cost to
periodically retrieve backups from storage to perform test restores as needed for
compliance or business policy, and the risk of not being able to read older tapes if too
many tape drive generations have passed.
2. Management overhead
Individually monitoring performance and free space on traditional RAID-based
volumes / LUNs becomes a huge burden. The constant juggling and adding of new
volumes / LUNs when capacity or hardware limits are reached consumes more and
more time, and each storage change often requires the applications configuration to
be updated as well.
3. Refresh cycle and data migration
The inevitable, and often overlooked, hardware refresh every 3 to 5 years will more
than likely take up many nights and weekends, data center resources, and budget
with traditional RAID-based storage systems. With extensive planning, a complete
re-evaluation of performance and capacity requirements, including future needs out
to 3 or more years; they will need a new infrastructure to be stood up alongside the
old infrastructure to allow the data to be migrated, likely with one or more outage
windows. Provisioning data center rack space, power, cooling, and network
infrastructure for this type of hardware refresh can be very expensive and time
consuming.

Backup Using CommVault Simpana with EMC Isilon

Backup Solutions with EMC Isilon and CommVault Simpana


Isilon scale-out technology removes the hurdles of multiple backup copies,
management overhead, application reconfiguration, and data migration; so you can
focus on your organizations backup and archive strategy.
EMC Isilon OneFS, the intelligence behind the Isilon scale-out NAS, combines the
three layers of traditional storage architecturesfile system, volume manager, and
data protectioninto one unified software layer, creating a single intelligent file
system that spans across all nodes within a cluster. The application only needs to be
configured once to use the single namespace provided by OneFS. New cluster
capacity can be added in 60 seconds and is immediately available for use by the
application without any manual intervention. To eliminate performance and capacity
hot-spots, and the juggling of volumes / LUNs, Isilon automatically distributes clients,
file data, and free space across the entire cluster. With Isilons utilization rate of over
80%, not achievable with RAID-based storage systems, fewer hard drives are needed
to satisfy the capacity demands while providing a comparable or higher level of data
protection. The ability to grow capacity to over 20 PB within a single cluster and
push-button retire older hardware greatly simplifies data migration on hardware
upgrades and eliminates the need to support two infrastructures simultaneously. This
saves valuable data center rack space, power, cooling, and network infrastructure,
not to mention time.
CommVault Simpana is a comprehensive information protection and preservation
platform that offers advanced features like Simpana OnePass which converges
backup, archive and reporting operations into a single job maximizing efficiency while
minimizing any impact of production infrastructure.
This document describes the best practices and solution-specific configuration steps
for deployment of CommVault Simpana with EMC Isilon for both basic and advanced
deployments. Basic best practices enable quick, easy, and straightforward
deployments using the fewest settings to get you started. The advanced best
practices identify opportunities to configure the system for performance, scalability,
or highly secure environments for a more optimized deployment model. This requires
a high level of knowledge, support, and time to plan the deployment of all the
components in advance.

Audience
This document is intended for administrators who will deploy and configure EMC Isilon
with CommVault Simpana. The assumed level of technical knowledge for the devices
and technologies described in this document is high.

Terminology
The abbreviations used in this document are summarized in Table 1.
Abbreviation

Description

CS

CommServe Server

MA

MediaAgent Server

DB

Database

Backup Using CommVault Simpana with EMC Isilon

Abbreviation

Description

DDB

Deduplication Database

SQL

Microsoft SQL Server

Table 1. Abbreviations

Solution Components
The following solution components are described in this document:

CommVault Simpana 9 and 10, and EMC Isilon scale-out NAS with OneFS 7.0
and 7.1

The Isilon Third-Party Software & Hardware Compatibility Guide can be found at
https://support.emc.com/docu45932.

Architecture Overview
To understand the CommVault Simpana architecture, let us first discuss the
components and their function. Starting at the edge and working our way towards
the center, the iDataAgent software is deployed on all servers, workstations, and
laptops that need to be backed up; they are collectively called clients. There are
specific iDataAgents for each of the different File Systems, Applications, and
Databases supported by Simpana. The MediaAgent software is deployed on dedicated
servers that manage the transfer of data between the clients and media; there are
often multiple MediaAgents within an environment to distribute the load. The
CommServe software is deployed on a dedicated server that communicates and
coordinates all operations; backups, restores, copies, media management, etc. The
CommServe creates a logical grouping of MediaAgents and clients called a CommCell;
depending on the size of the environment, or network and physical boundaries, there
can be multiple CommCells within an environment.
An overview of the logical architecture for a CommVault Simpana and EMC Isilon
scale-out storage deployment is provided in Figure 1. This shows the Isilon cluster
defined as a single CommCell Disk Library that is being shared between the
CommServe and MediaAgents. With this configuration, the Disk Library settings
never need to be updated. When capacity is added to the Isilon cluster, the
CommServe and MediaAgents immediately see the additional capacity without
intervention; nodes can be added to an Isilon cluster in as little as 60 seconds with
just a few clicks.
Adding capacity to a CommCell that is using traditional RAID-based storage requires
many configuration steps on both the storage system and the CommCell. The
storage system needs to be manually configured to provision the additional storage
on existing or new volumes / LUNs. The CommCell would need an existing Disk
Library modified with an additional mount path or a new Disk Library created, which
requires a new Storage Policies to be defined. This could also require that Subclients

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be manually rebalanced across the existing Storage Policies. These are time
consuming tasks that are eliminated when Isilon storage is used instead.

Figure 1. Logical architecture overview

Best practices
Networking
The networking sections that follow provide guidance and best practices to design and deploy
the network connectivity and communication pathways of your environment.
Basic
In this section we will discuss the basic information you should know to avoid firewall,
permissions, and latency pitfalls, and understand your connectivity options.

Backup Using CommVault Simpana with EMC Isilon

Firewall
During the installation, it is recommended to select the option to Add programs to
the Windows Firewall Exclusion List, even if the Windows Firewall is disabled. This
will add CommCell programs and servers to the exclusion list and ensure they
function, even if a disabled Windows Firewall is later enabled. Depending on the
Simpana version, this may be enabled by default.
Permissions
The CommServe, MediaAgent, and client software must be deployed using an
Administrator account or an account that is a member of the Administrator group on
these systems.
Similarly, the account used to define an Isilon cluster as a CommVault Disk Library
should have full control permissions on the share and directory.

Target

Permissions Required

Local Administrator

CommServe, MediaAgents, and


Clients

Administrator Group

Disk Target (Isilon Share and Directory)

Full Control

Table 2. Permissions Requirements

Bandwidth
Generally, more bandwidth available between services provides better performance.
Other factors account for overall performance; however, bandwidth can be an
important component
For most deployments, a pair of bonded Gigabit Ethernet connections on the
CommServe, MediaAgents, and Isilon cluster nodes will provide sufficient bandwidth
and resiliency. The CommVault recommendation for one exclusive 10 GbE connection
to a NAS Disk Library is based on a traditional NAS that has one or two filer
controllers with limited connectivity. Isilon is a scale-out NAS with CPU, RAM, drives,
and networking that scale-out together to provide more configuration options.
If switch ports are limited and bandwidth needs can be met with less than all the
Isilon cluster nodes, the excess nodes can remain disconnected on the external
Ethernet interfaces. This is possible due to the internal InfiniBand connections that
enable all of the nodes to continue to communicate and access resources, including
capacity. At a minimum, it is recommended to connect at least two different nodes in
the cluster to two different Ethernet switches to avoid a single point of failure.
Latency
Latency can affect transfer rate performance. Therefore, it is recommended that no
more than 25 ms of latency exist between the CommVault services and Isilon cluster.
Performance could be seriously affected if this latency is greater than 50 ms.

Backup Using CommVault Simpana with EMC Isilon

Advanced
In this section we will discuss the advanced information you should know regarding firewall
ports and connectivity option for high performance.
Firewall
Server
CommServe Server

Destination ports
81

Comments
CommCell Console Management UI

CommServe, MediaAgent,
and Clients

8400

CommVault Communications Service (CVD)

CommServe, MediaAgent,
and Clients

8401

CommVault Server Event Manager (EvMgrS)

CommServe, MediaAgent,
and Clients

8402

CommVault Client Event Manger (EvMgrC)

CommServe, MediaAgent,
and Clients

8403

CommVault Tunnel HTTP/HTTPS

MediaAgent and Clients

1024 to 65525

CommVault Backup/Restore Range (Dynamic)

Table 3. Advanced firewall

Bandwidth
The use of 10 GbE connections should be considered for deployments where there are
enough excess CommVault and client resources to support higher transfer rates than
the dual bonded Gigabit Ethernet interfaces can provide, and a reduced
backup/restore window is needed.

Performance
The performance sections that follow provide guidance and best practices to ensure the health
and performance of the CommCell components and their resources.
Basic
In this section we will discuss the basic information you should know about the resource
requirements for the CommServe and MediaAgent servers, CommServe database, and virtual
deployments.
CommServe and MediaAgent Server Configurations
The CommVault server recommendations should be followed for your deployment
size. Consider stepping up to the next higher recommendation to ensure optimal DB
performance and to provide the most flexibility. For example, client resources may
be insufficient to perform deduplication and/or compression tasks on backup data at
an acceptable transfer rate, so it may be best to offload those tasks to the

Backup Using CommVault Simpana with EMC Isilon

MediaAgent servers. In which case, more network bandwidth may be consumed, so


that must be considered when making these types of adjustments.
SQL Configuration
On the CommServe server, the SQL memory size is typically set to 50% of the
physical RAM. With that in mind, if feasible, monitor the CommServe database size
so that there is enough RAM for the DB to run in memory. Also, it is recommended to
run the CS DB on fast disks, possibly SSDs or PCIe flash; such as an EMC XtremSF
PCIe flash card. For more information, see IOPs for CommServe Database Volumes
(http://documentation.commvault.com/commvault/v10/article?p=products/commserv
e/iops.htm).
Deploying in a Virtual Environment
The CommServe SQL data and log files should be stored on different virtual hard
drives (VMDKs or VHDs) and the log file should be placed on faster storage (RAID 10
or RAID 1).
CommVault states that MediaAgent virtualization may only achieve 60% of the
maximum number of concurrent streams supported in a physical deployment.
Local Server Storage
In most cases, two 15K drives (RAID 1) is the recommended local storage
configuration for the operating system on both the CS and MA servers, except for the
highest CS tier which recommends eight 15K drives (RAID 10) or enterprise SSDs
(RAID 5).

Advanced
In this section we will discuss the advanced information you should know regarding the
MediaAgent Deduplication Database performance.
Deduplication DB (DDB)
As a general guideline, you will need to store the DDB on four or more SSDs (RAID 5
or 10) or PCIe flash, such as EMC XtremSF PCIe Flash, on each MA server locally to
achieve the DDB performance necessary to ensure adequate backup/restore transfer
rates. The DDB should not be placed on an Isilon cluster; it must be local to each MA
server.
More information can be found in the following CommVault documents.

Deduplication to Disk - Best Practices:


http://documentation.commvault.com/commvault/v10/article?p=features/ded
up_disk/best_practice.htm

Deduplication Building Block Guide:


http://documentation.commvault.com/commvault/v10/article?p=features/ded
up_disk/building_block.htm

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Configuration
An overview of the configuration steps for a CommVault Simpana and EMC Isilon
OneFS scale-out storage deployment is provided in Figure 2. The sections that follow
provide guidance on best practices or required settings for each step, where
applicable.

Figure 2. CommVault Simpana and Isilon OneFS configuration workflow

Isilon Storage Platform Configuration


The sections that follow provide configuration guidance and best practices for configuring the
Isilon cluster.
Basic
In this section we will discuss the basic requirement for creating the backup directory on the
Isilon cluster.

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Create CommVault Backup Directory


In a typical IT environment, it is common to have multiple applications utilizing a
shared central enterprise storage system, such as an Isilon cluster. To ensure
simplified storage and application management, it is a recommended best practice to
create directories using a naming convention that easily represents the application
(for example, /ifs/CommVaultData). In this way, it should be clear which group owns
the data, if capacity or other questions arise.
When creating the CommVault backup directory, ensure the user account used by the
CommServe and MediaAgents has Full Control permissions on the directory.
The default /ifs share or export can be used to access the directory (for example,
\\IsilonClusterName\ifs\CommVaultData)

Advanced
In this section we will discuss the advanced options of creating a CommVault specific share or
export on the Isilon cluster.
Create CommVault Specific Share or Export
Depending on the cluster configuration and other workloads being placed on the
cluster, it may be helpful to create a specific share or export for CommVault. This
could be useful to more easily expose the directory being use for this purpose, if not
immediately under the /ifs directory, or to more clearly show the workloads on a
cluster from a visibility / manageability perspective. This is facilitated by the
additional details that can be recorded within the share or export description on the
Isilon cluster.
When creating the CommVault share or export, ensure the user account used by the
CommServe and MediaAgents has the appropriate permissions on the share.
For example, the following CLI command can be used to create CommVault backup
directory and its SMB share.

isilon-1-1# mkdir /ifs/CommVaultData

isilon-1-1# isi smb shares create name=CommVaultData


path=/ifs/CommVaultData browsable=true description=Share for
CommVault backups, managed by the Backup and Archive IT Group

Isilon File Sharing


With its build-in multi-protocol support, Isilon OneFS provides the ability to share
directories and files to Windows client machines through SMB and to Linux client
machines through NFS.

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Create CIFS/SMB Share


Refer to the Isilon OneFS Web Administration Guide for complete configuration
procedures.
Overview:
1.

Enable the SMB Service, if not enabled already

2.

Create a SMB share

3.

Add the user account used by the CommServe and MediaAgents to the SMB
Share with Full Control permissions

4.

Test this SMB share by browsing to it on the CommServe and MediaAgents

Figure 3. Isilon SMB WebUI

Create NFS Export


Refer to the Isilon OneFS Web Administration Guide for complete configuration
procedures.
Overview:
1.

Enable the NFS service, if not enabled already

2.

Create a NFS export

3.

Add CommServe and MediaAgents Server IP Address in the NFS client list and
allow Read-Write access

4.

Map users to user name nobody

5.

Test the NFS export by mounting it on the CommServe and MediaAgents

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Figure 4. Isilon NFS WebUI

CommVault Simpana Configuration


The sections that follow provide configuration guidance and best practices for configuring the
CommVault Simpana CommCell.
Basic
In this section we will discuss the basic best practice for configuring a single Isilon Disk Library
to be shared with all the MediaAgents, the CommCell policy configurations, and the necessary
alerts for virtual deployments.
Create an Isilon Disk Library
All MediaAgents can be configured to share a single Isilon Disk Library device using
the following method.
Steps:
1. CommCell console ribbon > Storage tab > Library and Drive (see Figure 5)

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2. Click Add All >> from the Available MediaAgents, click OK (see Figure 5)

Figure 5. Create an Isilon Disk Library Step 1 and 2


3. Click Start (in the Library and Drive Configuration window, bottom-left button) > Add >
Disk Library (see Figure 6)

Figure 6. Create an Isilon Disk Library Step 3

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4. Enter an Alias and click OK (see Figure 7)

Figure 7. Create an Isilon Disk Library Step 4


5. Enter the Base Folder (is created), a MediaAgent, directory and share credentials, and
Folder (full UNC path to share and directory), then click OK (see Figure 8)

Figure 8. Create an Isilon Disk Library Step 5

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6. Select the Shared Disk Device tab > right-click Folder > select Configure for All
Selected MediaAgents (see Figure 9)

Figure 9. Create an Isilon Disk Library Step 6


7. Click Yes to configure for all MediaAgents (see Figure 10)

Figure 10. Create an Isilon Disk Library Step 7

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8. This shows the MediaAgents configured with this Isilon Disk Library, the window can be
closed now (see Figure 11)

Figure 11. Create an Isilon Disk Library Step 8


9. Once completed successfully, the Isilon Disk Library and Folder should be listed in the
CommCell Browser under Storage Resources > Libraries (see Figure 12)

Figure 12. Create an Isilon Disk Library Step 9

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Create Storage Policy


A new Storage Policy should be created that uses the Disk Library created above with
the appropriate aging rules and other settings needed for the environment.
Depending on those needs, modifying the new storage policy and adding the other
MediaAgents as Data Paths to that storage policy with Round-Robin enabled in the
Data Paths Configuration may simplify storage policy management.
Subclient and Schedule Policy
The Subclients should be configured with the Storage Policy created above.
Depending on the needs of the environment, a new Subclient can be created or the
default Subclient can be used. To schedule the Subclient to run on a regular basis,
add it to a new or existing Schedule Policy with a Full and Incremental schedule that
is appropriate for the client.
Deploying in a Virtual Environment
For CommCell health, a vMotion and Storage vMotion like operation must never be
performed on an active CommServe DB. Any automatic mechanisms that trigger
these operations should be disabled on a CS virtual machine. Alerts should be
configured in your virtual environment to ensure you are aware of any such
operations.

Advanced
In this section we will discuss the advanced performance considerations.
CommVault Backup Performance
The backup process is a resource intensive operation, especially the compression and
deduplication process, so the amount of spare CPU, RAM, and hard drive performance
on a client all contribute to its backup performance.
If a client requires the total backup time to be reduced, in addition to monitoring the
CS and MA performance, the client performance should also be monitored during the
time of the backups. Additional CPU and RAM can help with the compression and
deduplication hashing algorithms and therefore reduce the backup time. Obviously
hard drive performance affects how quickly the data can be read during the backup
process and therefore the backup time, so ensure other workload or maintenance
operations are not hampering the backup. If resources cannot be easily increased,
test if offloading the compression and/or deduplication process from the client to the
MediaAgents helps. This will cause more network bandwidth to be consumed
between the client and the MediaAgent, so this must be considered when making
these adjustments.

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Conclusion
The accelerating amount of data being generated today can have an exponential
effect on the amount of space needed for backups. This creates unprecedented
challenges on storage systems not built with scale-out as a core component of their
technology. Choosing the right storage solution that provides ease of management,
automated distribution, seamlessly scales, saves valuable data center resources, and
turns the inevitable hardware refresh / migration into a simple push-button affair is
critical to providing peace of mind to IT organizations already stretched thin on
resources.
Using the basic deployment method you are able to implement the CommVault
Simpana and EMC Isilon environment with the least amount of effort, provide good
resiliency and performance, and have the information necessary to avoid common
issues. The advanced deployment method provides additional information to
customize, administer, and optimize backup performance.

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About EMC
EMC Corporation is a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to
transform their operations and deliver IT as a service. Fundamental to this
transformation is cloud computing. Through innovative products and services, EMC
accelerates the journey to cloud computing, helping IT departments to store,
manage, protect, and analyze their most valuable assetinformationin a more
agile, trusted, and cost-efficient way. Additional information about EMC can be found
at www.EMC.com.

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