For years now, Pure Storage® customers have enjoyed the benefits of being able to take application-consistent snapshot-based backups of their SQL Server databases, enabled via the Pure Storage SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) extension. Directly from within SSMS, Pure customers can configure backup jobs, perform backups, mount those backups to additional drives, and restore databases in place. And using PowerShell with the Pure Storage Backup SDK, they can automate this entire process. Further, it works for both SQL Server instances running on bare metal, as well as those virtualized within VMware virtual machines.
Yet, we frequently heard one common refrain: “When will this awesome solution support vSphere Virtual Volumes (vVols)?”
I’m happy to say that the team has been hard at work, and the emphatic answer to that question is “right now!”
As of version 2.5 of the Pure Storage SSMS Extension released in December 2021, vSphere vVols are a fully supported option for database storage on virtual servers in addition to directly attached volumes and physical-mode Raw Device Mappings.
If you’re not yet familiar with vVols and wondering what all the hype is about, this lightboard series is a great place to start to understand just how powerful they are and why they’re quite often the best storage option available for virtualized environments.
For those of you who are already familiar with the benefits of vVols, and particularly those of you who’ve asked us to incorporate support for them into our SSMS extension, let’s take a closer look at what this announcement brings.
In the screenshot above, we configured backups for a SQL Server database that’s running on a virtual machine that’s using vVols. After taking a few backups, we see those backups directly within SSMS in the Backup History window.
From there, we can mount the data volume(s) containing the backed-up databases as one or more drive letters or volume mount points. We could also restore the database in place or delete the backup once it’s no longer required.
On the FlashArray™ device, we can see the volumes that comprise our SQL Server VM. The database is stored on a separate volume from the operating system and system databases, and that data vVol is the one we’ll take application-consistent snapshots of.
The full complement of FlashArray data protection features is available as well, and these snapshots can be used to asynchronously replicate to another FlashArray device or to Pure Cloud Block Store™. They can also be used as part of a highly available configuration leveraging ActiveDR™ or ActiveCluster™. Volumes can be protected individually or as part of a protection group containing multiple volumes.
For more on how the Pure Storage SSMS extension can be used as an integral part of a highly available design, check out this blog post, which highlights a Pure Validated Design for high availability with SQL Server.
But Wait, There’s More!
While support for vVols is the most requested feature to make it into this release, there are some additional features that I’d like to call out.
When configuring database backups, it’s necessary to provide credentials for the database server itself, along with the FlashArray device that stores the data, and if it’s a virtual machine, for the vCenter server as well. With the new Credential Manager, it’s a breeze to configure credentials that will be used for the backups—and verify that they’re valid before using them as part of a backup configuration.
Backup Configuration Auto-Discovery
When creating a backup configuration, after the database to be backed up has been specified, users can opt to automatically discover the FlashArray, volumes and volume type, vCenter, and virtual machine where the database and its stored data reside. This helps to remove the possibility of human error when defining backup configurations.
The Pure Storage Backup SDK
The Pure Storage SSMS extension version 2.5 comes packaged with the latest version of the Pure Storage Backup SDK. The Backup SDK is a PowerShell module that works in conjunction with the SSMS extension. Every action in SSMS, with a few bits of added functionality for good measure, can be taken through PowerShell. This makes it easy for administrators to automate and schedule data protection for their SQL Server databases.
In conclusion, the Pure Storage SSMS Extension provides administrators with an easy way to take snapshot-based backups of their most important databases. It puts that functionality at their fingertips directly in the primary tool used to administer the database. Now with support for vVols included, along with many additional features, many more Pure customers can take advantage of it. Download it for yourself and see how easy SQL Server backup and recovery can be.