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Azure NetApp Files Backup: Not your typical introduction

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Robert Cox
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Snapshots, replication, and backup — Anonymous, if you’re listening, we heard you. Today, Azure NetApp Files covers all three crucial data protection capabilities.

Let’s start by spotlighting those “volume snapshots” that Anonymous mentioned. Then we’ll talk about replication and introduce our newest data enhancement capability: Azure NetApp Files Backup.

NetApp Snapshot copies: A proven difference maker for disaster recovery

Unlike traditional backups that greedily consume disk space, NetApp® Snapshot™ point-in-time copies use essentially zero storage space to protect your data, and they don't impact performance. This is no small advantage. Having fast and efficient point-in-time backups (Snapshot copies) encourages the creation of multiple recovery points — and, in doing so, decreases your data loss exposure when you need to recover data.

You might be thinking, “What if I want to create several recovery points per day? Won’t application performance grind to a snail’s space?”

Double negative. NetApp Snapshot copies take up essentially zero space and have no impact on the performance of your applications. Creating multiple recovery points is the most important step you can take when protecting data. And with NetApp Snapshot technology, the extra recovery points come at no cost.

You're also free to travel back in time to a selected Snapshot copy and rapidly access your sought-after information. Let’s be precise. When I say, “rapidly access,” I mean, “in seconds.” That level of performance holds true whether you’re retrieving a single email or an entire content repository that’s up to 20 petabytes in size.

Now about those scheduled Snapshot copies: You can use Azure NetApp Files to create on-demand volume copies and — by using Snapshot policies — you can schedule automatic Snapshot creation. Hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly: It’s up to you. And it doesn’t matter if you change your mind or your protocol. Modifying or deleting a Snapshot policy is as simple as “right-click and select Edit.”

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Cross-region replication with irreplicable cost-savings

Six months after Anonymous’ post, we released a preview of Azure NetApp Files cross-region replication. Coincidence? I’m not at liberty to say. What I can say is that Lichun Li, program manager of Microsoft Azure, summed up the gain in operational resilience nicely:

“With this new disaster recovery capability, you can replicate your Azure NetApp Files volumes from one Azure region to another in a fast and cost-effective way, protecting your data from unforeseeable regional failures.”

[FYI: Replication can be scheduled and moved behind the scenes. This way, you can be confident that if a region is impacted, you can fail over and resume operations uninterrupted. More on that in a moment.]

Lichun goes on to describe the criticalities of Azure NetApp Files cross-region replication. How it benefits from our proprietary NetApp SnapMirror® technology, how only changed blocks are replicated, and how only a few clicks are needed to configure your first Azure NetApp Files cross-region replication.

Geek that I am, I could add layers of technical complexity to Lichun’s overview. But when you’ve got failover on demand, disaster recovery is doggone simple.

Region-wide outages, natural disasters, unforced human error: If there’s a disruption to your environment, you can fail over to the secondary volume and pick up operations as if it were business (continuity) as usual. Once the disruption is resolved, you can resync to the primary location from the secondary location.

And let’s not overlook the fact that Azure NetApp Files cross-region replication cuts down on the amount of data needed to replicate across the regions. Less data means reduced costs, and a much smaller restore point objective adds up to big savings. As for the setup charges and minimum usage fees… oh wait, there are none.

So, we’ve covered Snapshot copies and replication. What about that backup capability that Anonymous tipped us off about?

Introducing Azure NetApp Files Backup

It’s one thing to say that “we’re always improving.” It’s another to provide documented proof of how we've improved.

In the past year alone, we’ve seen that Azure NetApp Files has benefited from new enhancements that provide unparalleled security, performance, flexibility, and cost savings.

That said, Azure NetApp Files users like Anonymous want to have secondary copies of their local Snapshot copies replicated to low-cost object stores.

Why?

Because if human error or ransomware causes data loss locally, users should be able to recover their data from the secondary copy at any time.

But that’s not all. For compliance reasons, Azure NetApp Files users like Anonymous want to have an archive copy of the data — not a local copy — so that they can keep their cold data in low-cost object stores.

With all that in mind, it’s no exaggeration to say that Azure NetApp Files Backup was built to satisfy customer needs. The benefits are numerous. Azure NetApp Files Backup allows you to back up and recover Azure NetApp Files user data to low-cost Azure Blob Storage.

You know how the NetApp Cloud Backup service is easy to enable and scale to make your data compliant and safe? The same can be said for Azure NetApp Files Backup.

Cloud Backup eliminates needless complexity, delivers long-term cost effectiveness, and preserves storage efficiencies. So does Azure NetApp Files Backup, but — key differentiator alert — it achieves all that from the CLI within the Azure Portal.

Azure NetApp Files Backup breakdown:

  • Customizable. Adjust protection settings in the Azure NetApp Files interface or via the Azure resource provider API with click-of-a-button simplicity.
  • Simple. Minimal user management is needed for global policy-based protection of Azure NetApp Files volumes.
  • Cost effective. Store Snapshot copies of data volumes to low-cost Azure Blog storage and pay for only what you use.

There you have it. Azure NetApp Files Backup is a fully managed dream solution for cloud architects, application owners, developers, DevOps practitioners, IT generalists, and — let’s not forget — Azure NetApp Files users whose anonymity cannot hide the immense value of their feedback.

Robert Cox

Robert is a senior product marketing manager with over 20 years of product marketing and product management experience. Robert is focused on NetApp’s Cloud Data Services working to enable customers to deliver business outcomes for all IT workloads on cloud, multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments. Robert is an avid cyclist and loves to be outdoors.

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