Installing and Configuring the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance Provider for Volume Shadow Copy Service Software

by Trip Segars

August 2011

This article describes how to install and configure Oracle's Sun ZFS Storage Appliance Provider for Volume Shadow Copy Service Software as a hardware provider for the Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) running on a Microsoft Windows Server connected to an iSCSI or Fibre Channel LUN exported by Oracle's Sun ZFS Storage Appliance.

Overview of the Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service

The Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) included with Microsoft Windows Server implements a framework that allows volume backups to be performed while applications on the system continue to write to the volumes. VSS provides a consistent interface (a set of COM APIs) that allows coordination between user applications (writers) that update data on disk and backup applications (requesters) that back up the same data.

Storage system vendors must develop a storage device-specific component (DLL), referred to as a VSS hardware provider DLL, that integrates with and provides a standard interface to the VSS framework while encapsulating the device-specific interfaces required for creating the shadow copies of the volume.

The VSS hardware provider DLL for the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance implements the required COM interfaces specified in the Microsoft VSS documentation. (For more information about the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance, see the Resources section below.)

Introduction to the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance Provider for Volume Shadow Copy Service Software

The Sun ZFS Storage Appliance Provider for Volume Shadow Copy Service Software (hereafter called the hardware provider) is a VSS hardware provider that functions as one of three VSS components that work together. The other two components are a requester and a writer.

The hardware provider enables backup administrators to use Oracle Solaris ZFS snapshots seamlessly with any VSS-aware backup application (requester). When combined with a VSS-aware application (writer), databases and applications do not need to be shut down to create a consistent snapshot of an application file. Coordination between the requester and the writer ensures that no I/O operations are uncommitted while the snapshot is being created. VSS writers are provided for Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Active Directory, Microsoft SharePoint, and Oracle Database.

Figure 1 shows the flow between the VSS components.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Flow between the VSS requester, writer, and hardware provider

Installing and Configuring the Hardware Provider

To install the hardware provider on a Microsoft Windows Server, complete these steps:

  1. Download the hardware provider from the My Oracle Support site by going to the Sun Unified Storage Downloads Web site and following the instructions under "Steps How to download the ZFS Storage Appliance Plug-ins." Zip file downloads are provided for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the provider.
  2. Open the readme.html file in the zip file and follow the instructions in "Section 5. Installation and Verification." When the installation completes, the icon shown in Figure 2 appears on the desktop and in the Windows Start Menu.
  3. Figure 2

    Figure 2. Sun ZFSSA for VSS ConfigUtil icon

  4. Double-click the Sun ZFSSA for VSS ConfigUtil icon to launch the configuration utility for the hardware provider. The configuration screen appears, as shown in Figure 3.
  5. Figure 3

    Figure 3. Configuration screen for the hardware provider

  6. In the Address field, type the IP address of the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance target where the iSCSI or Fibre Channel LUNs are located.
  7. In the Username and Password fields, type a user name and password for a user of the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance who has appropriate administrative privileges. These privileges are described in "Section 6.2. Configuring a User on the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance" in the readme.html file opened in Step 2.
  8. Click the Apply button to log in to the appliance. The Status shows "Login succeeded," as shown in Figure 4, if the login succeeds.
  9. Figure 4

    Figure 4. Status screen showing successful login

  10. From a command prompt, enter the following command:
  11. vssadmin list providers
    
  12. In the output, check that Sun ZFS Storage Appliance Provider for Volume Shadow Copy Service Software is listed with a version number, provider ID, and type, as shown in Figure 5.
  13. Figure 5

    Figure 5. Verifying successful installation of the hardware provider

After the hardware provider is installed and verified, VSS-enabled backup applications will work in concert with VSS-enabled applications to take consistent snapshots.

Conclusion

Oracle provides a hardware provider for the Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service, which can be used with any VSS-aware backup application (requester) and VSS-aware application (writer) to take consistent snapshots of database or application data without shutting down the database or application. This article described how to install and configure the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance Provider for Volume Shadow Copy Service Software on a Microsoft Windows Server.

Resources

Here are the resources referenced earlier in this document:

And here are some additional resources:

Revision 2.0, 08/29/2011