Disaster Recovery using your StorSimple

Last modified

Updated: 06/27/2014

Overview

StorSimple appliance is a highly available (HA) device with redundant controllers, network ports, power supplies and disks.  The document explains the steps involved in backing up of data to the cloud and restoring them in case of a catastrophic disaster.

A disaster preparedness and recovery involves the following steps:

  1. Pre-requisites for DR
  1. Steps for DR

 

File:User:AlpaK/StorSimple-KB00002-DR-Volume-Restore-Process/image003.png Note: If you are familiar with backing up of data to the cloud and backing up of configuration, you can skip this section and jump to “Disaster Recovery” section.

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Pre-requisites for DR

The appliance configuration as well as the data should be continuously backed up so that in the event of a disaster, the latest configuration backup and cloud snapshots can be used to restore data on a replacement appliance. The next section discusses the detailed steps on how to backup the configuration appliance and the volume data to cloud.

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Backing up of data to cloud

Volumes created on StorSimple appliance must be backed up to cloud using StorSimple Data Protection Console (SSDPC) or using the Web UI.  The steps below summarize the backup process from both SSDPC and Web UI.  Please refer to “Backup Scheduling Best Practices” document for details on how to schedule backup jobs.

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Configure backups using SSDPC

File:User:AlpaK/StorSimple-KB00002-DR-Volume-Restore-Process/image003.png Note: This section applies only if the volumes on the StorSimple appliance are mounted on a Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

To configure backups using SSDPC, perform the following steps.

  1. Create a Volume Group for the volumes mounted from StorSimple appliance. For details, see how to create a volume group.
  2. Configure backups on SSDPC. For details, see how to take backups using SSDPC

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Configure backups using Web UI

File:User:AlpaK/StorSimple-KB00002-DR-Volume-Restore-Process/image003.png Note: Please refer to StorSimple Web UI User Guide available on StorSimple website for more information.

 

File:User:AlpaK/StorSimple-KB00002-DR-Volume-Restore-Process/image003.png Note: This section applies only if the volumes from StorSimple appliance are mounted on a Linux or VMWare ESX/ESXi server.  If the volumes are mounted on a Windows server, we recommend using SSDPC to back up the volumes by taking advantage of SSDPC’s integration with VSS.

  1. Access the StorSimple appliance using Web UI.
  2. Create a Volume Group for volumes on the StorSimple appliance. For details, see how to create a volume group in  Web UI.
  3. Create a Policy for backing up volumes at a regularly scheduled interval. For details, see how to create a policy in Web UI.
  4. Once the policy is created, jobs will be scheduled and backups will be created. 

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Saving configuration of StorSimple appliance

A configuration backup should always be available for your StorSimple appliance. This will ensure the latest configuration is always available for import.  In the event of a DR, the backed up configuration can then be imported on the replacement appliance. The steps below explain the process for taking a configuration backup.

File:User:AlpaK/StorSimple-KB00002-DR-Volume-Restore-Process/image003.png Note: Configuration backup is a crucial step.  Without the backup, new StorSimple appliance will not be able to connect to the cloud buckets from previous configuration.

 

  1. In the Web UI, navigate to Manage Configuration Configuration Backup.
  2. Click ‘Download’ to download the configuration from the existing appliance.
  3. Save the configuration backup file in a safe location.  This file should be accessible from the new appliance in case of a disaster.

 

File:User:AlpaK/StorSimple-KB00002-DR-Volume-Restore-Process/image003.png Note: Configuration backup is a signed file.  It should not be manually modified or else it would not be accepted by the system as a valid configuration.

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Steps for Disaster Recovery

This section details the steps involved in recovering from a disaster.  The steps below refer to a new/replacement StorSimple appliance with no configuration.  The recovery steps can be broadly classified as:

  • Configure replacement appliance
  • Import configuration from an existing appliance thus triggering backup registry restore information from cloud, and
  • Clone volume from a cloud snapshot.

On the new appliance, please follow the Appliance Quick Start Guide to enable management interface and assign the management IP address through the serial console port.

 

File:User:AlpaK/StorSimple-KB00002-DR-Volume-Restore-Process/image003.png Note: If performing a DR on a source appliance running software versions prior to v2.1.1.500, contact Technical Support. 

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Configure replacement appliance

The networks settings on the new appliance need to be configured. Perform the following steps on the replacement appliance.

  1. Access the Web UI using management IP address configured using Quick Start Guide.
  2. Go through the Setup Wizard. Configure the Name Settings, Network Interfaces, DNS Settings and Time Settings. For step-by-step instructions, see Using the Setup Wizard

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Import configuration from an existing appliance

In the replacement appliance, import the configuration from the configuration backup of the existing appliance. Perform the following steps to import the configuration.

  1. In the Web UI, navigate to Manage Configuration → Configuration Import.
  2. Click 'Browse', select the latest configuration backup file.
  3. Click 'Load Configuration'. This may take a minute or so.

 

ConfigImport1.png

 

  1. If you are using a configuration file from software version 2.1.1.394 - B32 or lower, perform the following steps:
    1. A single option of 'Import backups from an existing appliance' will be presented to you.

 

ConfigImport6.png

 

  1. You will need to provide your consent to proceed with this option. Click 'Next'. You will have to wait for the configuration to be loaded.

 

ConfigImport7.png

 

  1. Review the settings that need to be imported.
  2. Click 'Import Configuration'. You will be notified after the configuration is imported successfully. A backup registry restore will be launched. This option will create a copy of your primary bucket. The backup bucket will not be affected.

 

  1. If you are using a configuration file from software version 2.1.1.454 - B43 or higher, perform the following steps:
    1. Once the configuration file is loaded, two options will be presented as shown below:
      • Option 1 to import backups from an existing appliance will allow you to perform a bucket-to-bucket copy of the existing data. Selecting this option will result in a workflow similar to the older versions of the software.

 

ConfigImport3.png

  • Option 2 to transfer the ownership of data and backups will change the ownership of primary bucket (and the associated data in form of cloud snapshots). The backup bucket ownership (and the associated data in form of cloud clones) will stay unchanged.

 

ConfigImport4.png

 

  1. For the purpose of DR, choose option 2 to 'Failover your appliance'. Ensure that while using this option, the source appliance is actually offline or not using this configuration.​
  2. Provide your consent to proceed by checking the box for 'I wish to proceed with this option. The source appliance is offline or not using this configuration. This action will transfer the ownership of data and backups'.
  3. Click 'Next'. The appliance failover will be initiated and you will be notified. The backup registry restore operation will run during this workflow and a corresponding alert will be displayed as shown below:

 

ConfigImport5.png

 

  1. The time to complete backup registry restore will depend on the number of backup elements present and can vary from an hour to several hours. However, once all the metadata is copied, if you navigate to the backups page, you will start seeing the backups appear incrementally in the UI. 

The backup registry restore in progress alert will persist through the entire process as shown below.

ConfigImport9.png

Once the registry restore is complete, the alert will clear and the user will be notified of the successful completion of the operation.

File:User:AlpaK/StorSimple-KB00002-DR-Volume-Restore-Process/image003.png Note: Import Backups and Device Failover options should not be applied on the same destination appliance one after the other.

 

Possible errors seen while importing configuration

The following errors can be seen during the import process:

 

  Error description Error cause and next steps
1. The configuration file was created on a different version of software and cannot be used for import or restore.

If importing from a configuration file from 2.0.1 software, you will see this error. The config.xml needs to be converted to a proper format before it can be used.

Contact your technical support to convert your file and then perform the import. 

2.  Restoring from this version is not supported. 

If importing from a configuration file from 2.0.1 software that was converted using 2.1.1 converter tool and used on an appliance running this version, you will see this error.

Contact your technical support for next steps.

3. 

Unsuccessful Failover Alert: You may see unused objects in the cloud as the backup registry retrieval was not complete. Please try the backup registry restore operation again. If the problem persists, contact Microsoft Support.

Device Failover completed with the following error(s): 3 error(s) restoring cloud configurations and cloud credentials - Operation completed with status = CSA_STATUS_ILLEGAL_PARAMETER

If the cloud configurations are in use and you are attempting a device failover, you will see this error. The cloud configurations that are in use will also be shown in the error message.

You should retry the operation.

4.  Unsuccessful failover alert: You may see unused objects in the cloud as the backup registry retrieval was not complete. Please try the backup registry restore operation again. If the problem persists, contact Microsoft Support.

In rare cases, you may see this error.

You must retry the backup registry restore operation and if that fails, contact Microsoft Support.

5.

Unsuccessful failover alert: You may see unused objects in the cloud as the backup registry retrieval was not complete. Please try the backup registry restore operation again. If the problem persists, contact Microsoft Support.

Device Failover completed with following error(1): 1 error restoring access groups: ACR duplicates an existing ACR:win249203

This occurs when you have chosen to fail over to a live replacement appliance. The replacement appliance is not pristine and is live with cloud configurations, backups and ACRs. If any existing ACRs in the replacement appliance conflict with those being imported from the original appliance (on which disaster has occurred) then the user will get this error. This could potentially lead to data corruption.

You need to either create new ACRs for the replacement appliance or remove ACRs from the original appliance, so that same set of ACRs are not used by 2 different appliances.

6. 

Unsuccessful failover alert: You may see unused objects in the cloud as the backup registry retrieval was not complete. Please try the backup registry restore operation again. If the problem persists, contact Microsoft Support.

Device Failover completed with following error(1): 1 error restoring cloud configurations and credentials: Operation completed with status = CSA_STATUS_CURL_CONN_ERROR

While the backup registry restore is in progress, if for some reason the cloud connectivity is lost for greater than 5 minutes, then this error will be seen.

You will need to fail over the appliance again.

7. When working with older versions of software (v2.1.1.394 or lower) after a successful configuration import, all the backups also get discovered successfully. If the user creates clones using discovered backups for a particular cloud configuration, that particular imported cloud configuration is available for deletion. If the use accidentally deletes that cloud configuration, all the backups under that cloud configuration becomes unusable (subsequent clones using those backups will fail with error BE_BACKUP_RUN_RESTORE_METADATA_DOWNLOAD_FAILED). Do not delete the cloud configuration that was used to create clones using discovered backups.

 

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Clone volume from cloud snapshot

The next step is to restore the volumes from a Cloud Snapshot.  Backup registry restore imports the Cloud Snapshot information from the cloud and using Web UI or SSDPC, volumes can be cloned from any of the available Cloud Snapshots.  The cloning will import the volume metadata from the cloud and make the volume available for use.  The time taken to clone the volume depends on the size of the volume. 

Time to clone

If using v2.1.1.453 or higher version of software, you will note that the time taken to clone the volume has reduced significantly. The reason is that when performing an appliance failover (option # 2 in this software), volume data is not copied over. The only time required is for copying the metadata.

If using previous versions of software, the time taken to clone the volume data is significant.

This behavior is true only when cloning from a cloud snapshot. The time taken to clone the volume data from cloud clone remains unchanged between this version and the previous versions of software.

 

The section below explains the process of cloning the volume using Web UI and SSDPC.

File:User:AlpaK/StorSimple-KB00002-DR-Volume-Restore-Process/image003.png Note: A volume restore operation restores the Access Control Record associated with the volume.  If the restored volume needs to be mounted on a different server, the Access Control Record needs to be modified to allow access to the new server.

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Clone a volume using Web UI

Volumes can be cloned from the Web UI and mounted on the server which was connected to the StorSimple Appliance.  Perform the following steps to clone a volume using Web UI.

  1. In the Web UI, navigate to Manage Data Protection Backups.
  2. Select the volume group, backup type and the backup run from which the volume should be cloned.
  3. Click the 'Clone Volume' icon in the tabular listing of backups.

File:User:AlpaK/StorSimple-KB00002-DR-Volume-Restore-Process/image003.png Note: ’Restore Backup’ is available only if the volume is available on the appliance.  In disaster recovery scenario, the volume is not available on the appliance till it is cloned and volume metadata is transferred from the cloud storage.

  1. Assign a name for the volume in the popup window.
  2. The status of the job can be verified by navigating to Manage Data Protection Jobs.

 

DRVolumeRestore_17.png

 

  1. Once the job completes, the volume can be mounted on the server by establishing the iSCSI connection from the host to StorSimple appliance.

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Clone a volume using SSDPC

Volumes can be restored using SSDPC on the server where the original volume was mounted.  Volumes can be restored only if SSDPC contains information about the Cloud Clones or Cloud Snapshots.  If this information is not available, please use the Web UI to restore the volumes.  The following steps explain the process of restoring the volumes from SSDPC. 

  1. Ensure that the iSCSI connection from the windows server to the StorSimple appliance is established.
  2. Open SSDPC and navigate to ‘Backup Copies’ on left pane.
  3. Select the volume group which contains the volume to be restored.
  4. Select the backup type (cloud clone or cloud snapshot) from which the volume is to be restored.
  5. In the middle pane, right-click on the volume and select ‘Clone’ to create a new volume from the backup.
  6. Specify a drive letter and alias for the volume in the popup window.
  7. The status of restore can be monitored from Jobs Running section.
  8. Once the volume restore is finished, open the explorer window and verify the contents.

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