IntelliSnap Protection for VMs on VVol or VSAN/VxRail Datastores

VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols) provide a logical view of storage that enables data protection operations to address storage resources at the level of virtual machines. When VVol support is enabled, the Virtual Server Agent (VSA) supports IntelliSnap backups for virtual machines using VVol for any hardware storage arrays that provide VVol support.

VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) storage provides a consolidated logical view of physical storage resources that can be used by virtual machines. The Virtual Server Agent (VSA) supports IntelliSnap backups for virtual machines using VSAN storage for any hardware storage arrays that provide VSAN support (such as Dell EMC VxRail).

You can enable VVol and VSAN support for a subclient.

The VSA leverages VMware software snapshots to perform more efficient and granular IntelliSnap backups of VVols or VSAN datastores associated with a virtual machine. By using a software snapshot, the VSA reads data directly from storage and limits the data captured in the snapshot to the data for the targeted virtual machine.

For subclients for virtual machines that reside on VVol or VSAN volumes, IntelliSnap backups run using the Virtual Server Agent Snap engine.

The following operations can address storage for each virtual machine, eliminating the need to create and manage snapshots for each datastore that contains virtual machine data:

  • IntelliSnap backup

  • Backup copy

  • Data retention

  • Browse files

  • Recover VMs


Hardware revert is not supported for snapshots of virtual machines that reside on VVol or VSAN volumes.

Snapshot Retention

VVol software snapshots are retained after backups are completed, providing the ability to use the snapshot to revert the virtual machine to an earlier point in time. Virtual machine summary information in vSphere includes the snapshots, which are named in the format SP_commcell_id_job_id_snap_id_GX_Backup_.

In Best practices for using snapshots in the vSphere environment (1025279), VMware recommends that you retain fewer than 32 virtual machine snapshots in a chain. If this limit is exceeded, backups fail and the vsbkp.log file includes the following error:

CreateSnapshot() - Failed to create Snapshot from VM vm_name - Snapshot hierarchy is too deep

To avoid this issue, run regular backup copy jobs to move snapshots to tape, and configure the snap copy for the storage policy to prune snapshots so that fewer than 32 snapshots are retained on disk.

Before You Begin

Enable IntelliSnap for the virtualization client instance.


  • You can only perform a live browse or restore operation for files on guest VM RAID-5 volumes from a backup copy. File restores for RAID-5 volumes are not supported from a snap copy.

  • You cannot perform a backup copy operation to a different vCenter because the source snapshot is only available on the original vCenter.

  • The following limitations apply when restoring from an IntelliSnap backup that includes VVol volumes:

    • For a virtual machine that includes VVol volumes, you can only restore data when the VVols for the VM reside on a single datastore.

    • You can only restore virtual machines out of place.



      • These limitations do not apply when restoring from a backup copy.

      • If you perform an in-place restore from a backup copy, the restore operation overwrites any VVol snapshots. As a result, you must perform another backup before you can restore that VM again.

Enabling VVol and VSAN Support

To enable VVol and VSAN support for a subclient, perform the following steps:

  1. From the CommCell Browser, navigate to Client Computers> virtualization_client > VMware > backup_set.

  2. Right-click the subclient and select Properties.

  3. In the Subclient Properties dialog box, click the IntelliSnap Operations tab.

    When vVol Snap backup jobs are invoked on any of the subclients, a separate array entry with the naming convention VSA-SNAP-<ClientID>-<ClientName> gets added automatically in the Array Management.

  4. Select the IntelliSnap option.

  5. From the Available Snap Engines list, select Virtual Server Agent Snap.

  6. Click OK.