Brien Posey, a backup expert and Microsoft MVP, explains some of the new features in next-generation data snapshot technology in this Storage Decisions presentation. Some of these changes allow snapshots to catalog data like a backup product, he says.
"A lot of the newer solutions that are available have indexing capabilities, kind of like a traditional backup program, where you can find out which files are included in which snapshots," Posey says. While snapshots cannot replace dedicated backup programs, snapshots can help restore data. But snapshots are not a perfect solution -- and not every application interacts well with snapshots.
"Regardless whether you're using differencing disk snapshots, or pointer snapshots, or new solution [or] old solution, the snapshots and the snapshot application have to be application-aware," Posey says. "Otherwise, you can end up with data corruption."
He notes that Microsoft Exchange, for example, has a 2010 support policy that discourages the use of snapshots with Exchange Server. Posey, who has worked closely with Microsoft's Exchange team, said that "the spirit of this policy is that, unless the snapshot solution is Exchange-aware, it can do very bad things to Exchange."
Posey also tackles whether snapshots could act as a replacement for traditional backup applications.
"If you define backup as the process of creating a copy of your data so that you can restore that to the original source in the event of data loss, then no, I really don't think of snapshots as a backup replacement. It's more of an alternate form of backup -- at least, that's my opinion."