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Using VSS Framework to Integrate Mission Critical Apps

Posted by Vin Choinski

Wed, Oct 07, 2009

Exchange, MSSQL, File Services, SharePoint and AD...Microsoft applications play major roles in most IT environments these days. It's not accidental that the major storage vendors are making great effort to easily integrate with these applications. VSS Framework seems to be the prevailing wind.

VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) provides the system infrastructure for running VSS applications on Windows-based systems. VSS enables the creation of point-in-time cache-consistent snapshots of primary data volumes and provides the low-level driver functionality required for a VSS application to manage those consistent snapshots. VSS API integration is now commonplace and available with backup applications such as EMC NetWorker, Symantec NetBackup, CommVault SIMPANA  and with storage manufacturers like EMC, NetApp and HDS to name a few.

It makes a lot of sense to be able to tightly integrate your mission critical applications like messaging, database and document management with your data management infrastructure.  For Windows systems, VSS looks like a solid enabling solution.

VSS is a service and device level component available in the Windows kernel.  Microsoft provides a set of communication APIs that create a consistent interface between the (writers) and (requesters) during snapshot creation activity.  The writer is an application that coordinates its I/O operation with the VSS operation so that data on the shadow copy or snapshot is in a consistent state.  The requester is an application such as backup, archive or storage array snapshot software that request a snapshot be created. The detail in this process has likely already been taken care of through a VSS agent available from your favorite storage management application provider.

If you have not already tried using this technology in your environment I suggest you pick one of your Microsoft applications and give it a run through its paces - I think you ‘ll like the results.