Incremental for Nutanix Files

April 8, 2019

Did you know that HYCU needs less than a minute to perform an incremental backup of 20M files Nutanix share when just a single file is changed?

HYCU provides an efficient incremental backup of Nutanix Files (formerly known as AFS) by leveraging Nutanix CFT APIs. For example, an incremental backup of a file share with 20M files (with just one file changed) takes less than a minute with HYCU. Try that with any traditional backup solution and see how long it takes. As a result, HYCU users can have significantly more aggressive RPOs and admins can finally address the business requirements for files and data stored on Nutanix Files.

Trying to Back Up Nutanix Files – The Old Way

Backing up massive, scale-out file servers has always been the ultimate IT challenge. Full backups are notably hazardous especially when you consider moving millions of files across the wire. And, it would take days if everything ran 'smoothly.' You know what they say - the fastest and safest way to transfer 1PB over the Atlantic is with DHL.

But life doesn't get easier when you complete your first full backup. After the heavy lifting is done, you still need to factor in time for incremental backups.

What does a generic (traditional) file share backup actually do during an incremental backup? First, it traverses the whole share and compares its content with the internal file catalog in order to detect if something was added, changed or deleted. After that, it updates the internal file catalog with the detected changes and copies the changed files and metadata to the backup device/target. As you can imagine this is extremely slow even if you changed just a single file since the last backup. And it can take days for larger Nutanix Files deployments.

What Actually Affects File System Backup Performance?

Both the duration and success of scale-out file system backups are heavily affected by the number of files (especially if the number grows into the millions and above) as all of the operations are performed on file (system) level - rather than on a block/storage level.

One example we like to use to explain the difference is the full backup of 1M files (size 1KB) versus 1 file of 1GB. Processing time is a few orders of magnitude apart as the backup solution should perform a couple of million (slow) operations extra in the 1M files case. Capacity matters but in most cases, the number of files on the file system (or share) is much more critical.

This is why it is of utter importance to consider the backup plan within the initial file environment infrastructure design and deployment.

Backing Up Nutanix Files, The HYCU Way

All of the modern scale-out file systems have a record of changes within a given time period (between file system level snapshots). The same is true with Nutanix Files.

These changes are exposed to HYCU through the CFT API, resulting in the most efficient incremental backup workflow possible.

How does HYCU do it?

  • HYCU triggers a snapshot of the share to be protected in order to have consistent point in time data
  • HYCU asks for the changed files (and metadata) between the last backup and the current snapshot
  • HYCU updates its catalog only with the changes
  • Changed files are then moved to the backup target

The results speak for themselves. For example, why should you scan the whole filesystem if there is just one file changed? The attached unaltered video shows less than a minute incremental backup of 20M files Nutanix share taking less than a minute - with just one file changed between backups.

Is it logical to expect the same result? Yes.

Doable with a generic SMB/NFS backup approach? No.

Expected and doable with a purpose-built backup and recovery solution for Nutanix? Absolutely.

Questions to Ask When Backing Up Nutanix Files

Can you backup your large Nutanix Files shares?

Is your incremental backup of Nutanix Files share with millions of files fast and efficient?

Can you achieve RPO better than a week for your larger file shares?

If the answers weren’t yes to all three, then it’s time to Try HYCU. And, when you try HYCU with Nutanix Files, make sure to take advantage of our current offer of 1 Free TB of HYCU Backup. More details can be found at the link below.

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