Lingo Explained: Block Padding (with HP Data Protector)

The term Block Padding is used in backup to tape environments when there is a need for tape copy and backup mirroring. Tape still remains a sequential medium, using different tracks to store data. Therefore, there are slight variations in the overall capacity of individual tapes. This can pose a significant challenge when attempting to make an exact copy from a tape which is slightly larger than the destination tape. Planning for this eventual issue must be done before the initial tape initialization.

HP Data Protector uses a parameter called “OB2BLKPADDING” in the omnirc file on each system (media agent) connected with a tape device. The parameters’ value defines the number of empty blocks to be added on the specific tape. This empty space allows tape content to be copied to another tape of the same type without any problem as the empty space is not copied from the source.

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HP Data Protector Version Discontuance

Today HP announced the discontuance of some HP Data Protector versions. Hereby a table of the last versions and it’s End-Of-Support dates.

Oct 31, 2009 End Of Product Support for HP Data Protector 5.5
Oct 31, 2011 End Of Self-Support for HP Data Protector 5.5
Dec 31, 2014 End Of Product Support for HP Data Protector 6.2x
Dec 31, 2016 End Of Self-Support for HP Data Protector 7.0 & 8.0x
Dec 31, 2014 End Of Product Support for HP Data Protector 6.2x
Dec 31, 2016 End Of Self-Support for HP Data Protector 7.0 & 8.0x
June 30, 2016 End Of Product Support for HP Data Protector 7.0 & 8.0x
June 30, 2017 End Of Product Support for HP Data Protector 8.1x
Dec 31, 2017 End of Committed Support for HP Data Protector 9.0x
June 30, 2018 End Of Self-Help Support for HP Data Protector 7.0 & 8.0x
June 30, 2019 End Of Self-Help Support for HP Data Protector 8.1x
Dec 31, 2019 End of Extended Support for HP Data Protector 9.0x
Dec 31, 2023 End of Self-Help Support with Rights to New Versions for HP Data Protector 9.0x

The power of CommVault Simpana Regex based subclients

A Regex or Regular Expression is a sequence of characters that define a search pattern. It’s mainly used for pattern matching. Each character in a regular expression is either understood to be a metacharacter -with it’s special meaning, or a regular character with it’s listeral meaning.

A basic understanding of regular expressions is recommended. For more information about the expressions and metacharacters which can be used, please refer to a regex cheat sheet. Various tools are available on the internet to test your regular expressions. For example: RegExPal.

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CommVault Content Indexing operations are failing after performing a search engine optimization

Last week, I downloaded a custom workflow which executes a Search Engine optimization from CommVault Cloud.

The Search Engine optimization workflow brings the Search Engine offline, performs some maintenance activities on the Apache Lucene SOLR engine. Once completed, the search engine is brought back online. Below you can find a screenshot of the workflow.
SOLR Content Indexing Failing - 1

When been executed, I noticed it stayed in the “run optimize” phase for about 25 minutes and the logs files remained remarkable empty. I decided to kill the job and check it on a later moment. (sorry I did not had the time to wait :) )

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Import CommVault cloud report templates in the webconsole

CommVault Simpana 10 ships with a very powerful webconsole. At this moment, the webconsole is an addendum on the CommVault Simpana Administration Console. It’s not a replacement!

The webconsole allows:

  • on-demand & historical reporting;
  • end-user data recovery for Microsoft Exchange and various file system backups;
  • Edge data & software installation;
  • executing workflow runbooks (for example: end-user incident management);
  • virtual machine management;

In this blogpost, I would like to touch the “on-demand & historical reporting”. By default, the webconsole is filled up with some default reports which can be executed on the CommServe Databases.

The reporting framework is not restricted to the CommVault databases only. In the configuration section of the webconsole, you can easily define external data sources. The supported “remote databases” are:

  • Microsoft SQL Server;
  • Oracle;
  • MySQL.

Basically this functionality allows reporting on custom-applications, databases filled-up with scripts and 3rd party applications. For example reporting on a remote Symantec Backup Exec server.

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Running the CommVault External Data Connector Scripts for Symantec NetBackup 7.5

I’m starting a new project to change the backup infrastructure for one of my customers. Currently the customer is using NetBackup 7.5 (installed on Windows) and we will incorporate the remote site in it’s centrally managed CommVault 10 environment to ease the handover to the operational teams and to efficiently use the capacity-based licenses.

To get a good understanding of the environment, including data sizings – we opted to execute the External Data Connector (EDC) Scripts for NetBackup 7.5 provided by CommVault Cloud Services.

Please note, you have the ability to install an “External Data Connector Agent” on one of your clients and use that one to feed the data from the NetBackup environment. However, I’m not in favour for this approach as it will pollute the CommServe Database. This blogpost describes how you can use the Cloud Applications of CommVault to stage the existing configuration without thrashing the production environment.
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HP Data Protector: “Cannot connect to the SCM (Service Control Manager) on client: [5] Access Denied

I encountered the following error notification when adding a new client (the first one) to a freshly installed HP Data Protector Cell: “[Critical] [110:1022] Cannot connect to the SCM (Service Control Manager) on client RRE-AD01.testlab.local: [5] Access Denied“.

At first I thought the Data Protector Cell Manager was unable to connect to the client. Eventually I disabled the firewall on both machines, ensured the network connectivity between both systems could be properly established and if the user credentials are correct. Everything matched as expected!

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CommVault SQLiDA: Unable to get SQL version

Recently one of our development servers crashed. Upon recovery we started to receive the following error messages when backing up the Microsoft SQL databases: “Unable to get the SQL Version for the server [DEVSERVER]. Please check if the SQL Services are running.

It’s important to note:

  • Before the crash the backups ran fine;
  • the file “SQLServerInstanceList.txt” listed the following information: “(local);Clustered:No;Version:11.0.5058.0“;
  • the SQLiDA log only mentions “Unable to get the SQL Version for the server“;
  • the server has been restarted and the SQL iDataAgent has been reconfigured (removed keeping software in place and reconfigured).

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Configuring the CommVault Simpana Azure Client

We will start with a oneliner: “the cloud will be everything in the nearby future!“.

Enterprises are discovering the cloud and will slowly evolve to a hybrid environment. Many of them already took the first step with Office 365, OneDrive for Business and so on. As they are moving towards services and shared infrastructure, the need for data protection will remain untouched. However according to an EMC study (Reaching Solid Ground by Chris Ratcliffe) executed in December 2014, we notice only 13% of the organizations are confident to protect data stored in various locations. In one of my previous blog posts I mentioned we will see backup silo’s returning again. I strongly believe besides hyperconvergence (Software-Defined DataCenter), we will notice software and/or management console convergence for protecting virtual machines and data in the cloud, as on-premise.

Motivated by the above reasons, I looked into the CommVault Simpana Azure client which is available as of version 10 Service Pack 9 and is currently available as “Early Release“. My findings can be found at the end of this blogpost.
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Deploy a CommVault Simpana CommServe within Microsoft Azure by using the marketplace

I recently started using Microsoft Azure to build my own personal playground. In the past I used to deploy everything on my desktop PC at home and honestly my resources were limiting me to do what I wanted. I thought about buying a server, but I was not really willing to do these kind of investments.

For other tech people out there, Microsoft has a “30 day/150 euro” free trial available. Go check it out!

One of the things I really wanted to do is test some things regarding ‘portability‘ from a backup perspective. My intention is to recover on premise machines to the public cloud (Microsoft Azure in this test case) by using backup & restore, migrate and synchronisation.

I was going to deploy a standard virtual machine and install everything manually, as it came to my attention a predefined CommVault Simpana Software appliance (version 10 SP8) was available in the Microsoft Azure marketplace. I decided to deploy this template, as the system will solely be used in a sandbox environment.

The configuration of a virtual network, storage account, resource group and any other shared services (such as Active Directory and DNS) are out of scope of this article.

The main reasons to perform a manual or custom install on a regular virtual machine are:

  1. The CommVault Simpana Software appliance uses a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP2 Express edition (version: 11.2.5058.0). The express edition is limited to a maximum of 1GB memory allocation for the database engine, a maximum size of 10GB per database and up to four cores or one socket.
  2. The CommVault Simpana SQL instance is locked down with only the sa-account (role = “sysadmin“) and the BUILTIN\Users (role = “public“). So in case you want full blown access onto the database, you need to request CommVault to unlock it or start  hacking your way in.
  3. You want to change the installation path for the CommVault Simpana software. By default everything is installed onto the C-drive.
  4. Both versions support database mirroring which can be used as a disaster recovery mechanism for the CommVault Simpana backup environment.
  5. Update 3-MAY-2015: The commVault Operations Manager is not installed by default on the virtual machine. The Operations Manager allows some advanced features such as “Virtualize Me!” and “VM lifecycle management“. Manual installation is possible by using the Software Cache SetupAll.exe.
  6. Update 3-MAY-2015: the webconsole (http://localhost/webconsole) configuration still points to the template virtual machine hostname (“csmaexpress”). To get it to work, you need to change the following registry keys:
  • HKLM\Software\CommVault Systems\Galaxy\Instance01\Webconsole\ sZDM2WEBSERVERHOSTNAME
  • HKLM\Software\CommVault Systems\Galaxy\Instance01\CustomReportsEngine\ sZCRENGINEWEBSERVERHOSTNAME”
  • HKLM\Software\CommVault Systems\Galaxy\Instance01\JobInfo\ sWebConsoleUrl

to include the right hostname. Additionally also alter the webconsole configuration file “C:\Program Files\CommVault\Simpana\WebConsole\WEB-INF\classes\config.properties“.

Please note, CommVault does not allow the Simpana databases to be stored on a consolidated server. These need to be stored on the local system for best performance, business continuity (“chicken or the egg principle“) and disaster recovery tolerance.

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