Virtualizing the Copy Operation

Actifio uses snapshots with changed-block-tracking technology to instantly capture application-consistent copies of data. This technology 
is the industry’s fastest, most efficient and scalable method of data capture, eliminating the traditional “backup window” while delivering data protection SLA’s previously impossible using traditional technology. Data copy can occur in multiple ways, depending on the user environment, leveraging technologies such as: VMware™ vStorage API’s, Oracle™ RMAN, Microsoft™’s VSS, as well as our lightweight Actifio Connector.


In order to ease setup, Actifio Copy Data Storage (CDS) performs a deep discovery of hosts, applications, volumes and file systems. VMware specific environments are discovered by querying vCenter for a list of ESX servers and the VM’s running on those servers.

VMware™ vStorage APIs

Actifio leverages VMware snapshots and a feature of VMware’s vStorage APIs for Data Protection called Changed Block Tracking (CBT). This enables Actifio to capture changes from the production environment using true incremental-forever architecture. Changed Block Tracking lets Actifio CDS copy only the blocks that have changed since the last data collection on to the Actifio system.

Actifio CDS is fully integrated with VMware vSphere, beginning with version 4.0. Actifio communicates directly with the vCenter management server and initiates the data collection process by taking a VMware snapshot of a customer’s Virtual Machine. VMware VM snapshots provide Actifio CDS with an application consistent view of the blocks on the virtual disk(s) inside of a VM.

Application APIs

Several enterprise class applications and platforms provide advanced interfaces for better manageability of copy data. Examples include Microsoft Windows VSS and Oracle RMAN. Actifio CDS directly interfaces with these API’s to capture an application-consistent snapshot of the data and import only the changed blocks into Actifio CDS. This provides the most efficient level of data capture at the application level.

Actifio Connector

Actifio leverages a host connector for physical servers in order to obtain application consistency during the precise moment when the snapshot is taken. The Actifio connector is a lightweight piece of software that’s installed on the server to provide tighter integration with various applications.

The Actifio Connector is also used to include file systems mounted on servers that have DAS, SAN or NAS devices as storage. This means that both file and block copy data on those servers can take advantage of Actifio’s advanced copy data management capabilities.

Other Applications

For applications and operating systems that are home grown or lack built-in interfaces for quiescing, Actifio CDS internal snapshot technology can quickly capture crash consistent views of the application data. In addition pre- and post-snapshot scripts can be run to ensure that the data is consistent. Actifio CDS leverages advanced Copy On Write (COW) snapshot technology for physical server environments such as Microsoft Windows, Unix, Linux, and IBM i Servers. Once the copy data is saved using Actifio snapshot technology, customers can leverage Actifio’s advanced copy data management features such as single image, global deduplication, compression, remote replication and instant restore.