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NetApp Cloud: Cloud ONTAP for Amazon Web Services
Kevin Hill
Cloud Solutions Architect

This article is the third in a series on the NetApp® cloud that explores how we help you to take full advantage of private, public, and hybrid cloud resources.

There’s no question that the public cloud can offer significant benefits for the enterprise in terms of cost, elasticity, and flexibility. However, integrating your on-premises assets with public cloud capabilities still presents substantial challenges.

That’s why NetApp created Cloud ONTAP. Cloud ONTAP brings the #1 branded storage operating system to the #1 public cloud, making it easy and fast to address enterprise storage requirements while taking full advantage of the compute and storage capabilities of Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Figure 1) Cloud ONTAP running in the public cloud makes it possible to closely match IT resources to demand.

Cloud ONTAP delivers all the capabilities you expect from NetApp and Data ONTAP® software:

  • Support for NAS and SAN so you don’t have to re-tool your applications to run them in the cloud. Public clouds may lack support for important protocols such as CIFS/SMB and NFS.
  • Integrated data protection that allows you to protect important application data using fast efficient backup and replication.
  • Advanced storage efficiency including compression, deduplication, thin provisioning, and cloning to reduce your total storage requirement and streamline data management.
  • OnCommand management software including OnCommand Workflow Automation (WFA).
  • Enterprise support direct from NetApp.

Cloud ONTAP is a key element in NetApp’s vision to create a NetApp Data Fabric that simplifies data mobility and management for the hybrid cloud. This article explains how Cloud ONTAP works in concert with OnCommand Cloud Manager software to simplify management of data in the cloud. We’ve removed the guesswork, making it easy to provision cloud storage with the enterprise capabilities you need—in minutes.

Introducing Cloud ONTAP

Public Cloud Challenges

Many enterprises would like to take advantage of public cloud, but cloud storage has significant limitations where enterprises are concerned; it typically lacks the data protection, availability, and data mobility features to satisfy operational requirements.

Cloud compute resources are agile, but data is not. Data needs to be close to compute for performance, but transferring data between clouds is difficult. Moving data is time consuming and can require significant bandwidth (at significant expense). The data formats and data services used by your on-premises storage and those of various cloud services can be incompatible and inconsistent.

Cloud ONTAP Advantages

This is where Cloud ONTAP comes in. Cloud ONTAP doesn’t replace cloud storage; rather, it augments available AWS storage services to provide enterprise capabilities, consistent data formats, and streamlined data mobility.

Even if you’re not currently a NetApp customer, Cloud ONTAP makes it easy to provision storage in the cloud—where and when you need it. With Cloud ONTAP you can:

  • Easily replicate, backup, or move data between different AWS locations or within a single location.
  • Move, backup, or replicate data to NetApp Private Storage (NPS) services for performance and security. NPS is currently available for AWS, Microsoft Azure, and SoftLayer.
  • Transfer, backup, or replicate data to any one of the 400+ cloud services built on NetApp storage.

If you have NetApp storage in your data center, Cloud ONTAP delivers all these capabilities and makes it easy to move data between on-premises and AWS locations.

How Cloud ONTAP Works

Cloud ONTAP is a virtual storage appliance, or VSA, that runs as an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance. Each Cloud ONTAP instance functions as a single-node cluster running clustered Data ONTAP.

Cloud ONTAP uses Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) General Purpose Disk (GP2) as its underlying storage. By building Cloud ONTAP on EC2 and EBS, NetApp provides the advantages of Data ONTAP entirely within the AWS framework.

Figure 2) Cloud ONTAP is able to run as an EC2 instance within the AWS cloud. It uses EBS GP2 for underlying storage while delivering the enterprise features of clustered Data ONTAP.

This means that applications can use storage from Cloud ONTAP just as they would any other NetApp storage—without any time-consuming retooling. As a result, you can run existing applications in AWS without changes and without sacrificing the capabilities you rely on.

Protocol Support

Cloud ONTAP supports iSCSI for applications requiring a SAN, and supports both NFS and SMB/CIFS for applications requiring file services. (The Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel over Ethernet protocols are not supported.) Data ONTAP has always been the premier storage operating environment for multiprotocol support, and Cloud ONTAP inherits that capability.

Data Protection and Availability

Popular NetApp data protection tools—including Snapshot™ copies, SnapMirror® technology, SnapVault® and SnapProtect® software, and the SnapManager® management software suite for consistent application backup and recovery—all work with Cloud ONTAP, making it simple and cost effective to provide enterprise-level data protection within the cloud. The NetApp “Snap” tools are designed to be simple to configure and easy to use, which explains their enduring popularity. For instance, according to IDC, NetApp SnapMirror is consistently the number one or number two replication solution.

Since each instance of Cloud ONTAP runs in a specific AWS region, it provides the same degree of availability as the underlying EC2 and EBS services in that region. You can use the Snap tools to replicate data to another Cloud ONTAP instance—either in the same AWS availability zone or region, or in a different one—as needed, in order to meet your availability requirements.

Storage Efficiency

Another significant advantage of Cloud ONTAP is the ability to utilize Data ONTAP storage efficiency features including thin provisioning, deduplication, compression, and cloning. These technologies can greatly reduce the amount of storage you need as well as the amount of time required to support applications and development and test, reducing the overall cost of cloud storage.

Table 1) Popular public cloud use cases for the enterprise.

OnCommand Cloud Manager

NetApp has designed OnCommand Cloud Manager as an integral part of the NetApp cloud ecosystem. Cloud Manager simplifies configuration and deployment of Cloud ONTAP and provides a central point of control for all Cloud ONTAP instances. It also provides cost monitoring for the resources you consume within the AWS cloud and simplifies license and entitlement management.

You deploy Cloud Manager either on your own premises (by downloading it from the NetApp support site) or within AWS by deploying it from the AWS Marketplace. Once deployed, you use the wizard-based Cloud Manager interface to deploy Cloud ONTAP instances. We’ve refined the interface such that, within minutes, you can have a fully functioning Cloud ONTAP instance, ready to start serving data within the AWS environment. You can view this Cloud ONTAP video to see Cloud Manager in action.

In addition to managing Cloud ONTAP instances, Cloud Manager also manages NetApp Private Storage for Amazon Web Services. NPS is an alternative NetApp solution for the public cloud. NPS positions NetApp FAS storage systems in partner data centers close to public cloud locations with high-bandwidth, low-latency communication to public cloud compute resources. NPS is particularly well suited to situations where performance, security, and data sovereignty concerns are paramount.

Figure 3) OnCommand Cloud Manager provides a simple, wizard-based interface for deploying and monitoring Storage Virtual Machines in Cloud ONTAP and NetApp Private Storage.

NPS and Cloud ONTAP make it possible to create a hybrid data fabric, allowing you to migrate data to the cloud that best meets your needs at any given time.

Getting Started with Cloud ONTAP

Now that you understand what Cloud ONTAP and Cloud Manager are and how they work, it’s time to explain a few specifics on using the service. You can purchase Cloud ONTAP services in two ways:

  • Pay as you go. You purchase and deploy Cloud ONTAP services directly from the AWS Marketplace and pay on an hourly basis.
  • Bring your own license. You purchase a six-month subscription directly from NetApp.

Table 2 shows a few of the specifics.

Table 2) Purchasing Cloud ONTAP services.

All available packages include multiprotocol support, FlexClone® technology, the full suite of NetApp data protection software, plus the OnCommand suite (except OnCommand Insight.) All EBS storage is of the GP2 type, which corresponds to SSD storage. The specific types of EC2 instances available and the capacity limits depend on the package you choose.

The Explore package is intended primarily to allow you to test out the Cloud Manager interface and Cloud ONTAP storage features; the standard hourly package is designed to work well for short-term needs, while the BYOL standard package makes sense in situations where you know you’re going to be storing significant data in the cloud for a while.

A Future in the Cloud

NetApp is committed to deliver flexible cloud solutions that allow enterprises of all sizes to take advantage of advanced storage services in private clouds, public clouds, and from cloud service providers. We think a hybrid model, leveraging elements from all three approaches, will dominate the IT landscape for the foreseeable future. Smart IT teams are already making this transition and reaping the benefits in terms of greater business agility.

We see Cloud ONTAP, with its ease of deployment and global reach, as a critical element in helping you get the most leverage from the cloud along with our NetApp Private Storage offerings, the 400+ cloud service providers using NetApp storage, and our solutions for the private cloud. You can read more about private cloud in two recent Tech OnTap articles:

Keep an eye on Tech OnTap for more on the latest NetApp cloud developments.

By Kevin Hill, Cloud Solutions Architect

As a key member of the NetApp Cloud Solution Group, Kevin focuses on hybrid cloud, including building resiliency through standardization and automation and evangelizing the customer benefits. He has spent 10+ years at NetApp and over 25 years in the IT industry. Kevin lives just outside of Raleigh, NC with his wife and three daughters.

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November 2014

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More on Cloud ONTAP and the NetApp Data Fabric Strategy

Be sure and check out the Cloud ONTAP page for more details, as well as our cloud landing page for more on all NetApp cloud solutions. You might also want to check out the following links for even more details:

NetApp Private Storage for SoftLayer

SoftLayer, an IBM company, is the latest cloud provider to partner with NetApp with a NetApp Private Storage for Cloud solution. Visit the NPS for SoftLayer page to learn more or check out TR-4326—NetApp Private Storage for SoftLayer: Solution Architecture and Deployment Guide for full details on architecture, deployment, and testing.

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