Easily Create, Manage and Deliver Copies of SQL Server

Copies of SQL Server data are needed for many IT functions, including local and remote recovery, development and test, reporting, compliance and so on. According to IDC, over 80% of organizations maintain more than ten copies of every SQL Server database at any given time. Not only does this create a massive infrastructure cost penalty, but the ongoing demand for database copies consumes valuable IT staff time and effort.

For this reason, Copy Data Management (CDM) is becoming a must-have solution for enterprises running SQL Server. Catalogic ECX integrates storage array copy processes (snapshots, replication, clones) with SQL Server, allowing users to leverage their existing storage infrastructure to automatically create, track and deliver fresh copies of SQL Server databases to those business units that require them.

How Catalogic Helps with SQL Server

By orchestrating the creation and use of SQL Server-aware storage snapshots, ECX becomes a powerful, next generation solution for data protection and recovery. You can skip traditional backup completely and move to a snap-and-replicate model that provides near instant protection and rapid recovery. Compared to the slow restore process of traditional backup, ECX allows IT to mount and instantly access copies that are already in the production storage environment. ECX catalogs all snapshots and replicas and alerts you if a copy job fails. Disaster recovery can be automated and tested non-disruptively.

ECX can also serve copies to data consumers. Using SQL database virtualization, application consistent copies of SQL Server databases can be automatically mapped to host servers every day, ready to go at the start of the work day. Ad hoc requests can be satisfied with a few clicks. Self-service access means that IT can relieve itself of the daily grind of copy provisioning, while still retaining control and not giving end users direct access to storage systems.

For example, using the ECX self-service portal, a developer could spin up their own SQL Server test copies whenever they needed them, but they would be restricted to a set number of SQL clones coming from a predefined set of storage volumes. This maintains security and prevents abuse of infrastructure resources.

The benefits of ECX SQL database management are even more pronounced when used with all-flash storage arrays. The high I/O of these systems allows zero-footprint snapshot copies to run at production speeds, even when servicing multiple workloads from the same copy.

How It Works: No More Scripting

With ECX, users create copy policies that define key copy metrics: how often to make copies, where the copies will reside (local, remote or both), how long copies are retained and so on. Once a policy is created, it can be applied easily to any SQL Server workload. No more complex scripting or working with multiple tools; just click-and-apply ease of use.

The ECX copy process is agentless, giving you true application awareness without the maintenance headaches of agent-based solutions.

The meta-data catalog at the core of ECX tracks all copies, allowing you to search, audit and report on copy data. ECX also handles copy deletion, ensuring that you only retain the data you really need.

Additional Features

Cluster Aware SQL Cloning
Disk Signatures are fingerprints that Microsoft uses to identify disks. They define which physical disks belong to which volume during boot time, as well as when new devices are added. Windows Clustering relies on this mechanism to avoid “split-brain” scenarios for shared drives. When restoring a SQL database clone back to a cluster, the volume will show up with the same signature as the original, and this can confuse the Windows Clustering. Scripted solutions usually cannot handle this condition, and this is why scripted solutions often fail to restore back to the original cluster, unless the original shared volumes are destroyed.

Catalogic ECX allows you to define a proxy SQL server that re-signatures the disks before they are mounted back to the original clusters, thus avoiding failure.  

VSS Consistent Replicas for Pure Storage //FlashArray
Pure Storage provides a hardware VSS provider for physical SQL workloads, but this provider only provides VSS consistent snapshots on the local array. This provider predates Protection Groups and there is no easy way to replicate an application consistent copy. Some script-based solutions use a workaround that takes a snapshot, creates a new volume with it, and replicates it. However, this approach requires the full copy to be replicated every time, which is a significant use of bandwidth.

Catalogic delivers a hardware VSS provider for SQL that integrates with Pure Storage Protection Groups and can handle replication. This preserves the significant data reduction Pure Storage customers customarily see.

AlwaysON Instant Seeding or Remote Replicas
AlwaysON Availability Groups from Microsoft SQL Server have been a revelation for users that can’t afford much downtime. However, establishing an availability group across multiple sites  requires sending all the data over the wire. The storage array  has to work on deduplication and compression of the same blocks again. Organizations often use replica databases for testing.  Re-seeding those databases after every test can be painful for the administrators. 

Catalogic has an instant seeding option for remote sites. Using it, you can reseed the replica database from an existing snapshot in the replica site. Any unhealthy/uninitiated replica copy can be recovered and brought back in synch with its primary database with little to no additional data transfer over the wire. This is much quicker, requires less network bandwidth and is more efficient on the storage.

Integrated Pre- and Post-Scripting
ECX allows the customer to leverage existing or new scripts that manage the detailed settings and parameters that are unique to every SQL Server instance.  The policy workflow in ECX includes the step for the user to define which script should be utilized, and to specify when and how the script(s) should be used.

Integrated Log Management
The ECX policy workflow for creating and using copies of a database includes rich and flexible functionality for managing the database logs.

Coverage Details

ECX supports both physical and virtual instances of SQL Server. Support is provided for various combinations of the following:

  • SQL Server: SQL 2008 R2, SQL 2012, SQL 2012 SP2, SQL 2014, SQL 2016
  • Windows Server: 2008 R2, 2012 R2, 2016

ECX supports standalone, SQL Server Failover Clustering and AlwaysON configurations. For the latest supported systems and complete support matrix, consult the SQL Server requirements page. 

Demo Video: MS SQL Cluster Backup and Restore Using Pure Storage and Catalogic ECX  - Video
8 Minutes

Demo Video: MS SQL Cluster Backup and Restore Using Pure Storage and Catalogic ECX

Catalogic software simplifies SQL Server backup and restore using Pure Storage FlashRecover snapshot technology by providing automation and orchestration of the process. Catalogic automatically discovers the volumes used by SQL and creates database consistent Pure Storage snapshot copies. Advanced recovery capabilities allow for changing the disk signature on the fly as part of the recovery workflow, thereby avoiding disk signature conflicts. This eight minute demo video shows you how easy it is to protect and recover SQL Server.

Copy Data Management for SQL Server Databases

Catalogic ECX integrates storage array copy processes (snapshots, replication, clones) with SQL Server databases, allowing users to leverage their existing storage infrastructure to provide critical IT services such as protection and disaster recovery, SQL Server database dev-test, reporting, etc. With ECX, you can quickly and easily deliver fresh copies of data to those functions and business units that demand them.

Webinar: It - Video
30 Minutes

Webinar: It

This 30-minute webinar will provide you with a high-level, value-based explanation of how Catalogic can transform your database environment through a simple, software-only solution. Supported databases include Oracle, SQL Server, SAP HANA and InterSystems Caché (used for EPIC EHR and other applications). The webinar is suitable for IT architects, storage admins, developers, DBAs, etc.