With the release of Microsoft System Center 2016 Data Protection Manager (SC DPM), DPM team announced Modern Backup Storage (MBS), delivering 50% storage savings, 3x faster backups, and efficient backup storage utilization with Workload Aware Storage.
DPM 2016 leverages Windows Server 2016 ReFS capabilities to provide Modern Backup Storage. While DPM 2016 can be deployed on Windows 2012 R2, however, DPM 2016 should be running on Windows 2016 to leverage MBS. If you need to use Modern Backup Storage (MBS) which is highly recommended, then you need to present volume(s) with drive letter(s) to DPM as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Data Protection Manager – Add Disk Storage
Once you add volume(s) to DPM, you can start storing backups on MBS volume. DPM 2016 leverages Resilient File System (ReFS) block-cloning technology to store incremental backups, which significantly improves storage usage and performance. The main benefits of using MBS are the following:
- 30-40 percent savings in storage.
- Backups that are 70 percent faster with Modern Backup Storage.
- Ability to configure workloads for storage on different volumes.
- Backup storage inline with the production data source.
After adding the volume to DPM, the next step is to configure Workload Aware Storage. This feature enables you to associate workloads with volumes, so when you configure protection groups, DPM will proactively select these volumes to store the associated workloads. So, for instance, if you need to backup Hyper-V virtual machines, this can be easily done with PowerShell as shown in Figure 2, you can associate a specific volume (i.e. E) to a specific workload. In the example below, I am specifying the DataSourceType as Hyper-V.
Figure 2. Data Protection Manager – Workload Aware Storage
A question you might ask, how many drive letters can Windows OS support?
Well the maximum are 26 drives… But what happens if you use all the drive letters in the system, can you still add volumes to DPM?
Volume Mount Points to the rescue…
Volume Mount Points
A little background about NTFS volume mount point.
Volume mount points are specialized NTFS file system objects which are used to mount and provide an entry point to other volumes. You can add volumes to systems without adding separate drive letters for each new volume, similar to the way Distributed File System (DFS) links together remote network shares. Volume mount points are robust against system changes that occur when devices are added or removed from a computer.
The next question is, can we use Mount Points with DPM Modern Backup Storage instead of drive letters?
Yes, Mount Points are fully supported for DPM volumes. It’s a supported scenario as confirmed by the product team. However, you can’t find any documentation talking about this.
DPM Modern Backup Storage with Mount Points
Assuming you have added a new virtual hard disk (VHDX) to a virtualized DPM server running on top of Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V.
Open Disk Management within the guest and follow the steps below:
- Right Click on the newly added disk and select New Simple Volume… Click Next >
- Specify the volume size and click Next >
- On the Assign Drive Letter or Path, select Mount in the following empty NTFS folder and click Browse…
- Browse for drive path as shown in Figure 3, click OK and then click Next > Figure 3. New Simple Volume Wizard – Assign Drive Letter or Path
- On the Format Partition page, select the File system: ReFS, select the allocation unit size: 64K, keep the remaining options as default and click Next >
- Review the new simple volume settings and click Finish.
- Browse to the NTFS file system where you assigned the drive path and observe the newly created mount point (See Figure 4). As a side note, don’t locate the mount points on the C: root drive, instead create a specific disk as NTFS (i.e. D: drive) to host the mount points. Figure 4. Volume Mount Point
- Open System Center 2016 DPM Administrator Console, browse to the Management task area. Click Disk Storage, then click the Rescan icon and then click the Add icon. The Add Disk Storage page appears.
- Select the available volume and click Add. DPM will then format the volume with ReFS before adding it to the storage pool. Click Yes to continue. Optionally, give the volume a friendly name (i.e. SQL-Workloads) and click OK (See Figure 5). Figure 5. Data Protection Manager – Add Disk Storage
- Last but not least, open Windows PowerShell and update DPM Disk Storage Data Source Type as shown in Figure 6. Figure 6. Data Protection Manager – Update Data Source Type
There you have it. DPM with Modern Backup Storage and Volume Mount Points.
If you are using Dedup on the Hyper-V host to save on disk space for DPM storage, then you can aggregate multiple 1TB VHDXs and create a simple Storage Spaces within the guest and provide a large volume to DPM storage. Check how to reduce DPM storage by enabling Data Deduplication on Modern Backup Storage. This will make volume management a lot easier going forward!
Hope this helps!