A Deep Dive Into NetApp Cloud ONTAP for AWS

by Larry Freeman, NetApp

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When Amazon launched its public cloud services some 10 years ago, it quickly appealed to startups and software developers who were fed up with long wait times for new servers from corporate IT. The Amazon Web Services (AWS) consumer-based pricing model makes it easy for developers to use their credit cards to spin up virtual servers immediately.

Recognizing an opportunity to attract the attention of corporate IT leaders, Amazon embarked on a mission to gain acceptance in the enterprise by increasing application support and steadily releasing new services. These services filled out the AWS portfolio in areas such as high-performance computing, data archival, disaster recovery, backup and recovery, and block/object storage. However, in spite of the undeniable success of AWS within the enterprise, a recent survey of IT professionals found that more than two-thirds of respondents still run fewer than 20% of their applications in the public cloud.

One inhibitor to the widespread adoption of cloud storage within enterprise IT shops has been a lack of parity with traditional data storage arrays. Storage administrators have become accustomed to enterprise features such as multi-protocol support, single-pane data management, application-integrated snapshots and deduplication. NetApp Cloud ONTAP for Amazon Web Services addresses this gap between low-cost public cloud storage and feature-rich enterprise storage arrays.

NetApp Data Fabric Fundamentals: How to Manage, Protect and Access Data Across Your Hybrid Cloud

Cloud ONTAP Basics
Cloud ONTAP is a virtual machine version of NetApp's leading storage operating system, Data ONTAP. It is designed to run within Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances. Once Cloud ONTAP is installed, Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) volumes are assigned to the Cloud ONTAP EC2 compute instance to create the equivalent of a Data ONTAP storage array that operates within the AWS cloud.

The process of installing Cloud ONTAP follows the popular consumer buying model developed by Amazon. From the AWS Marketplace, NetApp Cloud ONTAP is selected and NetApp Cloud Manager is downloaded. From that point, licensing, credentials, zones and Cloud ONTAP instances are entered via the Cloud Manager user interface. Each instance of Cloud ONTAP supports as little as 2TB or as much as 368TB of EBS storage capacity.

A Common Data Management Framework
Cloud ONTAP is one of four variants of the Data ONTAP operating system that share a common data format, which enables a common data management framework across various public and private cloud endpoints. With Data ONTAP, a data fabric can be created that allows storage to be managed using a universal format.

Within this fabric, a single control plane executes instructions and monitors the flow of data throughout the fabric, regardless of endpoint. NetApp's OnCommand management interface contains policy engines that enforce service-level objectives throughout the data fabric to monitor performance, data availability and data protection, while providing alerts to notify administrators when a policy falls out of limits.

A key component within a data fabric framework is the filesystem format. In this case, NetApp's Write Anywhere File Layout (WAFL) contains a Unix-like journaled filesystem that provides consistency in the management and movement of data throughout the fabric. WAFL filesystem metadata contains critical information about the structure of filesystem inodes and data pointers, so that snapshots, deduplication, data compression and virtual clones can be created with relative ease.

NetApp MetroCluster

Since each variant of ONTAP uses identical metadata and filesystem formats, data can be universally managed and manipulated throughout the data fabric. A prime example of this is SnapMirror, which provides full replicas of application data by mirroring metadata and data volumes between endpoints in a data fabric. Using SnapMirror allows the transparent migration of application data between any two points: for instance, from an AWS cloud to an on-premises storage array, or between two AWS clouds in different regions.

Connecting the Hybrid Cloud With a Data Fabric
NetApp's approach to hybrid cloud facilitates the seamless connection of public and private cloud resources, with a highly efficient transport between systems and clouds and a single purview of data management. Cloud ONTAP for Amazon Web Services is an important component in a NetApp-enabled Data Fabric, allowing applications to be hosted on AWS while utilizing proven enterprise management and controls.

For more information about Cloud ONTAP, check out this Tech OnTap article or try our free Test Drive Program.

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