Configuring Backups with the Cisco HyperFlex Storage Array

When you perform IntelliSnap backups with the Cisco HyperFlex storage array, the backup takes a hardware snapshot of each virtual machine (VM) designated for protection, instead of taking snapshots of the entire datastore that hosts the VMs.

Currently, this feature is supported for the following VMware operations:

  • Streaming backup
  • Live Sync from streaming backup and backup copy
  • IntelliSnap backup and backup copy
  • Full VM restore
  • VM file(s) restore

IntelliSnap Backup and Restore Process

  1. IntelliSnap backup operations leverage Cisco Hyperflex REST APIs to create native snapshots. A native snapshot is a reproduction of a VM that includes the state of the data on all VM disks and the VM power state (on, off, or suspended) at the time the native snapshot is taken. When the first snapshot of the VM is created either through Cisco Hyperflex APIs or Cisco Hyperflex connect, it creates a base snapshot, the Sentinel snapshot, in addition to the native snapshot. The Sentinel snapshot ensures that all snapshots thereafter are native snapshots and that log-based snapshots are not retaken. Sentinel snapshots should not be deleted, and a VM should not be reverted to the Sentinel snapshot.
  2. The backup operation uses a separate stream for each VM.

    The number of streams that are available for a backup job depends on the number of data readers that are configured for the subclient.

    Backups are performed asynchronously in parallel.

  3. The backup creates a catalog file for each VM and updates the index file for the backup job.
  4. VM snapshots are retained on the array.
  5. For backup copy and restore operations, we will mount the VM snapshot and read the data.
  6. When the backup copy or restore operation is completed, the snapshot would be unmounted.

Snapshot Retention

Snapshots are retained after backups are completed, providing the ability to use the snapshot to revert the VM to an earlier point in time.

The Cisco Hyperflex storage array has a limitation of 31 native snapshots per VM, including the Sentinel. 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 31 snapshots are retained on disk.


  • All of the virtual machine disk (VMDK) files from a virtual machine must reside on the same datastore for native snapshots.
  • It is recommended that you exclude the storage controller VMs from the content selection during backup. Storage controller VM names have the prefix stCtlVM. If storage controller VMs are selected for backup, then their backup jobs will fail.
  • You cannot perform a backup copy operation to a different vCenter because the source snapshot is only available on the original vCenter.
  • You can only restore virtual machines out-of-place from the IntelliSnap backup.


    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 the snapshots. As a result, you must run another backup before you can restore that VM again.


  1. To configure the Cisco HyperFlex storage array, refer to Cisco HyperFlex.
  2. To enable Cisco HyperFlex support for IntelliSnap:
    1. From the CommCell Browser, navigate to Client Computers> virtualization_client > VMware > backup_set.
    2. Right-click the subclient, and then select Properties.
    3. In the Subclient Properties dialog box, click the IntelliSnap Operations tab.
    4. Select the IntelliSnap option.
    5. From the Available Snap Engines list, select Cisco Hyperflex Snap.
    6. Click OK.
  3. Identify a Cisco HyperFlex datastore that can be used as the mount path.

    A single mount path can be used for all jobs for the vCenter.

  4. Configure the subclient for the virtual machines to be backed up to the Cisco HyperFlex storage array.
  5. Run a backup for the subclient.


Symptom: If a source VM does not have a native snapshot or the Sentinel snapshot and has a snapshot created using the VMware interface (API or UI), the backup job will fail with the following error:

Error creating virtual machine snapshot.

Resolution: Delete the existing snapshot created from the VMware interface, and then run the backup. If the snapshot needs to be created manually, then create it from Cisco HyperFlex Connect, and then run the snap backup.

Last modified: 9/19/2019 8:49:52 PM