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NetApp Snap: A guide to data protection and management

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David Tanigawa
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Data protection is critical for organizations, especially as data security threats increase in frequency and severity. The recent data breach in the telecommunications industry, which exposed the personal information of 73 million customers, is just one example of the challenges businesses face in safeguarding sensitive data.

For NetApp IT, managing vast petabytes of raw data necessitates a robust toolset like NetApp's Snap products. These products offer advanced features for data protection, including snapshot capabilities, data replication, and disaster recovery solutions. By leveraging these tools, organizations can establish a proactive data protection strategy that anticipates potential risks while ensuring data integrity and availability.

The approach of expecting the best but preparing for the worst is a fundamental principle in data protection. It involves implementing proactive measures such as regular data backups, encryption protocols, access controls, and security monitoring to mitigate the impact of potential data breaches or disasters.

In today's digital landscape, where data is an asset, prioritizing data protection is essential for maintaining customer trust, complying with regulatory requirements, and safeguarding business continuity.

Snap Powers Data Protection and Security

NetApp's Snap products are not just another data protection and management solution in the market. They stand out with their unique suite of tools, each meticulously designed to address specific data protection and management challenges. The Snap portfolio is a powerhouse offering unparalleled data backup, recovery, and compliance functionalities. Let's delve into these products to uncover their distinctive capabilities.

Snapshots: Snapshots are the cornerstone of NetApp's data protection, replication, and archiving technologies. They form the core of an advanced suite of high-availability, disaster-resilient data protection solutions tailored for your ONTAP environment. Snapshots eliminate the duplication of data, which helps ensure that space consumption is as efficient as possible, enabling administrators to effortlessly maintain frequent, low-impact copies of files, directory structures, LUNs, and application data.

SnapLock: Designed for compliance data protection, SnapLock ensures that critical data needed for legal or regulatory compliance is securely retained. It establishes a compliance clock for data retention, providing you with reliability and precision, and prevents the accidental deletion of sensitive information.

SnapMirror: This product is utilized for data replication, creating a mirror of source data on a destination volume. It facilitates efficient data backup and disaster recovery strategies, ensuring data availability and integrity across different locations.

SnapVault: Previously a separate product, SnapVault is now integrated into the SnapMirror functionality. SnapVault is ideal for long-term data protection, allowing users to establish retention policies for snapshots on the destination volume independent of the source volume.

FlexClone: When a FlexClone volume is created, it’s based on a reference snapshot in the parent volume. The FlexClone volume shares common data blocks with the original volume as of that time. ONTAP doesn’t overwrite existing data blocks. So, any writes to the FlexClone volume are written to new data blocks, and the FlexClone volume grows as these new data blocks become part of the active FlexClone volume, allowing for tasks like database cloning, testing, troubleshooting, and data consistency checks without impacting the original data.

SnapCenter: This management tool handles application and database backup for datasets that require application-consistent snapshots. It provides a centralized platform for managing and orchestrating backup, restore, and cloning operations across various applications and databases within an IT environment.

These solutions form a unified data protection strategy, offering all-risks protection for valuable data, including backup, replication, recovery, and long-term retention capabilities. This integrated approach helps organizations ensure data availability, minimize downtime, and effectively meet data protection requirements.

Use Cases and Challenges

As early adopters of NetApp's Snap products, NetApp IT has experienced firsthand the transformative impact they can have on addressing critical challenges faced by organizations today. These tools have been instrumental in ensuring robust data protection against ransomware attacks, meeting stringent compliance requirements, and enabling efficient data management strategies.

A vital weapon in NetApp's Snap arsenal is SnapLock, which has proven highly effective in safeguarding against ransomware threats. By preventing unauthorized data deletion, SnapLock provides an additional layer of security, ensuring that critical data remains intact and accessible even in the face of malicious attacks.

NetApp IT currently uses SnapLock Enterprise for additional protection against accidental deletion of our compliance and archive data (e.g., SOX data, which we must retain for seven years) and SnapLock Compliance to protect secondary copies of a few critical datasets against malicious actions by a rogue actor.

We are also now using tamper-proof snapshots (introduced in ONTAP 9.12.1) to protect primary volume data snapshots from ransomware. Before this feature's availability, we could only preserve secondary copies of data with SnapLock.

Additionally, FlexClone has revolutionized the way our organization tests and troubleshoots. With FlexClone, NetApp IT can create instant, space-efficient clones of production environments, allowing for rapid and thorough testing without impacting live systems. This streamlines development and deployment workflows and enhances overall operational efficiency. We also used FlexClone to troubleshoot issues with large-scale file permission changes when implementing file access auditing.

NetApp's Snap products encompass a versatile suite of solutions tailored to meet the evolving needs of contemporary enterprises. Understanding the nuances of each product and exploring creative use cases can unlock significant benefits for organizations, providing peace of mind knowing you're positioned for the best by preparing for the worst.

Explore more IT use cases about how NetApp utilizes its products to run our business successfully.

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