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Lowering Disaster Recovery Costs with Cloud Storage Efficiencies and Manageability

Posted by Gali Kovacs on Aug 8, 2017 2:14:27 AM

Cloud Storage Efficiencies and Manageability

Disaster recovery is never cheap when systems are entirely housed on-premises. Redundant data storage and hosting duplicate sites come with price tags for infrastructure, network, administration, maintenance, plus paying the rent for the physical space to house all of those appliances.

Although the shift to the cloud has done a lot to cut the costs associated with the “old school” all-on-premises architecture, disaster recovery in the cloud has its own cost considerations.

If you plan on decommissioning an existing disaster recovery site in favor of a site based in the cloud—especially if you are currently using NetApp for primary and secondary storage—this is a crucial time to consider the costs of disaster recovery in the cloud.

What are your objectives for RTO and RPO, how will you comply with data protection SLAs, and, most importantly, how will you keep costs down?

These questions need answers and NetApp has one to offer you: ONTAP Cloud. This post will look at how the combination of cloud storage efficiencies and the ease of use of ONTAP Cloud, help cut cloud-based disaster recovery costs.

The Challenges of Running Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

Disaster recovery depends on the ability to transition from an impacted primary site to a secondary failover site with little loss of data or functionality.

The cloud offers an inherently better solution for disaster recovery because of its scale: giant cloud service providers have levels of security, equipment, availability, and operation that private organizations, no matter how large, just can’t match.

Costs for storage on these sites are kept low because of the intense competition among service providers. So the first step to cutting disaster recovery costs is to make the move to the cloud—but once you get there the cloud has challenges of its own you’ll have to face.

Just the migration to the cloud is a challenge that takes intense planning and a considerable investment of time and money. Mistakes at this stage can lead to higher costs later, including the costs for disaster recovery.

Because “always on” cloud sites for disaster recovery are exactly that—always on—they inevitably rack up charges. And don’t overlook the costs  of data transfer: the cloud may provide inexpensive storage, but getting your data there costs money.

Cutting Costs with ONTAP Cloud Storage Efficiencies

Cutting DR recovery costsThere are many disaster recovery resources available for AWS and Azure users.

On AWS, infrastructures can be built with Amazon EC2 instances while Cloud Formation and Pilot Light can keep costs down by only running services upon failover.

On Azure, users can rely on Azure Backup, StorSimple, and cold storage in the Azure Cool Blob combine to build a disaster recovery infrastructure.

But with ONTAP Cloud you can optimize the use of those AWS and Azure services and bring down the total costs of maintaining your disaster recovery in the cloud.

The cost savings are due to the ONTAP Cloud storage efficiency features of thin provisioning, data compression, data deduplication, and FlexClones.

1. Thin Provisioning

With thin provisioning, the logical storage users are presented with what will appear to be the full requested size, but the blocks of data are actually only allocated as they are being written. Basically that means you only pay for the capacity that is being actively used and not for anything idle.

Thin provisioning keeps cloud costs—including DR costs—low since you no longer have to allocate storage in the cloud ahead of time, you only scale as needed.

2. Compression

Data compression is another space-saving feature with ONTAP Cloud that can lower disaster recovery costs. By allowing data on a volume to be compressed, you wind up paying less for overall storage costs.

Used in conjunction with data deduplication (see below), you can reduce the amount of storage you use for disaster recovery even further.

In a recovery site, ONTAP Cloud uses SnapMirror to replicate the compressed data, which cuts down on the network bandwidth used to sync the two sites and makes it even cheaper to keep your failback site up-to-date.

3. Deduplication

Data deduplication saves a lot of storage space by collapsing data with more than one copy into a single block. This feature requires no oversight as it runs in the background automatically, reading and writing data without user or application intervention.

Combined with compression, deduplication makes your data as compact as possible, keeping your storage and transfer costs for disaster recovery low.

4. FlexClones

This feature creates writable copies of existing volumes, no matter how large the source.

Only requiring storage for changed data, FlexClones are very storage efficient, storing all writes in a different volume. FlexClones can be created and put into use very quickly, and more than one copy can be used at the same time.

All together, FlexClones are excellent for running disaster recovery tests. Such tests are important because if a disaster recovery plan is not tested, it may not work when you really need it, and ultimately cost your company an untold amount of money.

Tiering to Amazon S3 and More

On top of the benefits mentioned above, ONTAP Cloud also allows you to leverage Amazon S3 tiering, a unique and exclusive function that lets you cut down on storage costs by shifting unused data to Amazon S3 while it isn’t needed.

ONTAP Cloud Snapshots are another way that you can save on costs. Scheduling snapshot creation is a lynchpin for any disaster recovery strategy, but Amazon EBS snapshots always take full copies of the data when they are created, even if the data is exactly the same—driving up your data backup costs unnecessarily.

Since ONTAP Cloud Snapshots only need storage space for the snapshot data that differs from the base copy, you wind up paying less for storage and cutting your overall disaster recovery costs.

Increased Manageability with OnCommand Cloud Manager

One of ONTAP Cloud’s greatest advantages is its ease of use through OnCommand Cloud Manager. OnCommand Cloud Manager’s single-pane view of all your deployments enhances your ability to monitor and manage the disaster recovery environments both in the cloud and on-premises with ONTAP Cloud.

Being able to allocate resources efficiently and schedule tasks with OnCommand Cloud Manager means you don’t have to keep your disaster recovery site running all the time, which saves you time and money.

OnCommand Cloud Manager is available on both the Azure and the AWS marketplaces, and its web-based UI makes it accessible from anywhere. An easy to follow setup wizard shows users who are new to the cloud how to set up and create new instances and volumes, provision resources, configure systems, and more.

Via SnapMirror, OnCommand Cloud Manager also makes finding and replicating on-premises systems to ONTAP instances a fast part of building a disaster recovery plan, saving you time and money.

With OnCommand Cloud Manager you can adjust ONTAP Cloud to match your schedule. These tweaks include being able to switch instances on and off as required, which can greatly reduce the cost structure.

Scheduling snapshots is another way to increase the managerial ease of working with ONTAP Cloud and to save money, as explained above.

The Key to Cost Effective DR Plans

Though disaster recovery in the cloud represents a big cost savings over disaster recovery in on-premises environments, it can still be a considerable expenditure. 

Using Amazon EBS and other AWS services or Azure VMs may help you get your site back up in a disaster, but it won’t help you do it in the most affordable way.

Optimizing storage space for disaster recovery means going beyond what AWS and Azure have to offer.

The key to a cost-efficient cloud-based disaster recovery plan is a management solution with built-in storage-saving features that lets you use less space while giving you a single-pane view of all your systems, whether in the cloud or in a physical data center.

NetApp makes this possible with ONTAP Cloud, which comes with the storage-efficient features that keep disaster recovery costs under control.

NetApp and ONTAP Cloud can help you do more—and pay less—with exclusive features you won’t find anywhere else.

Webinar: Achieve Cost Savings & Flexibility with Cloud-based Disaster Recovery

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Topics: Disaster Recovery