Dell EMC AppSync is a software package that can simplify and automate the process of generating and consuming copies of production data. At a high-level, AppSync can perform end to end operations such as quiescing the database, snapping the volumes, and mounting and recovering the database. For many end users, these operations can be difficult without AppSync, because of different applications and storage platforms.

AppSync provides a single pane of glass and its workflows work the same, regardless of the underlying array or application. AppSync natively supports Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, SAP HANA, VMware, and filesystems from various operating systems. The product also provides an extensible framework through plug-in scripts to deliver a copy data management solution for custom applications.

The latest version, AppSync 4.4 – released on January 13th, 2022 – contains many new features and enhancements, you can read about it here

In this blog post I want to focus on the PowerStore integration with AppSync.
PowerStore can use both local and remote AppSync workflows: Protection and Repurposing. Production restore is supported for both local and remote. AppSync uses the PowerStore Snapshot and Thin Clone technologies embedded in the appliance, so copies are created instantly and efficiently. It also leverages PowerStore async native replication for remote copy management. (When replicating between two PowerStore systems, source to target, you can only have one target system.)

PowerStore Remote data Protection provides asynchronous replication of individual Block Volumes or Volume Groups, this functionality ia supported between all flavors of PowerStore Systems – PowerStore and PowerStoreX.

The replication provides RPO settings between 5 minutes and 24 hours while Remote replication leverages the same snapshot engine as for normal snapshot as used in PowerStore. After an initial full synchronization of a volume, following RPO cycles just perform an incremental copy which reduces the network utilization. PowerStore supports traditional Use-Cases for asynchronous Replication like Redundancy, Data migration, or whenever an additional copy is required for compliance.

The integration between PowerStore AppSync simplifies, orchestrates and automates the process of generating and consuming application consistent copies of production data. AppSync’s deep application integration coupled with abstraction of underlying storage and replication technologies empowers application owners to satisfy copy demands for data repurposing, operational recovery and disaster recovery, all from a single user interface.

AppSync provides intuitive workflows to setup protection and repurposing jobs (called Service Plans) that provide end to end automation of all the steps from application discovery and storage mapping all the way to mounting of the copies to the target hosts. For local protection, AppSync leverages PowerStore local snapshots while for Remote protection it leverages a Power Asynchronous native replication.

When using an asynchronous native replication session, AppSync creates a snapshot of the application, then creates a snapshot on the remote appliance using PowerStore snapshot shipping technology. A sync operation is issued on the replication session to synchronize the data. When the remote snapshot is created, the local snapshot is removed.

These Copy Management copies can be found under ‘Copy Management’ > ‘Copies’ or ‘Service Plan’ tabs, the figure below shows an example of remote protection copy of VMware VMFS datastore residing on a PowerStore Volume.

During mounting operations, users can select a local or remote copy (if configured) for mounting, and for recovering the application(optional). The details are defined by the user within the AppSync service plans or repurposing workflows. AppSync attaches the copy to the selected mount host by creating a thin clone from the snapshot and mounting it. If the copy is unmounted, the thin clone is unmapped from the mount host but remains on the PowerStore appliance. This allows AppSync to quickly remount this copy if it is needed again, ensuring optimal performance. The copy is only deleted from the PowerStore appliance if it is expired from in AppSync. This results in the thin clone and snapshot both being deleted. If the copy is using a thin clone, no additional thin clone is created during a mount operation. The figure below shows an example of the tasks that are initiated during a remote copy workflow of a VMware datastore, including application discovery and protection (VM consistent snapshots), remote storage mapping and recovery.

In addition to the scenario shown above, AppSync supports Repurposing workflows by creating multi-generational PowerStore snapshots and thin clones, with a prefix of either AppSyncSnap or AppSyncClone, respectively. AppSync supports PowerStore repurposing workflows as of AppSync 4.1 and later versions.

AppSync repurposing supports several types of workflows, such as creating application-consistent local or remote copies, automating mounting and application-recovery scenarios, and scheduling these operations. Repurposing workflows focus on a single application at a time, and do not use a copy-count-rotation policy, which occurs with service plan workflows. Repurposing workflows are generally not used to protect the application or are considered a backup solution. Repurposing is most often used to replicate production environments and use the copies for quality assurance testing, development, offloading reporting, and patch management.

Below you can see a demo showing PowerStore remote copies integration with AppSync:

A guest post by Tomer Eitan

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