Data Archiving with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

Information matters more than ever to organizations, so it’s important to know how to make sure that data is stored safely and securely. Data archives are used to store information that remains valuable to an organization but is no longer in active use. But how can organizations do that without costs spiraling out of control?

In this article, we will examine the features of Cloud Volumes ONTAP that support seamless data archiving in both AWS and Azure cloud environments and how these features help to reduce costs without sacrificing data access or flexibility.

What is Data Archiving?

Data archiving differs from data replication in that it is not used to support disaster recovery (DR) or to create backup copies of data. While replication provides data protection for the current state of a data volume, data archiving relates to protecting a volume’s historical versions. Data archives are typically created for auditing purposes, to save costs, or to meet compliance requirements.

Archive data is a type of cold data. While frequently-accessed, hot data usually resides on fast and expensive storage formats to ensure its ready availability, cold data such as archive data is stored on inexpensive, capacity storage. This reduces operational costs, which is one of the best practices for archiving data. The additional latency associated with accessing archived data, however, is normally acceptable. It can often be case, however, that organizations find it difficult to effectively archive unstructured data, which intermittently require fast, on-demand access to it, and so end up using high performance storage for everything, which drives up costs.

Cloud Data Archiving

Data Archiving should make use of the most cost-effective solution for data storage Data archiving methods should make use of the most cost-effective solutions for data storage, ideally without the need to forfeit easy access to the data when required. This may not always be possible, as is the case, for example, with tape backups, which provide a cheap storage medium from which it is difficult to retrieve the stored data. In the cloud, we can choose from a range of storage options; however, getting the best fit is sometimes tricky.

For example, we may wish to take advantage of the durability and cost effectiveness of cloud object storage, such as that offered by Amazon S3 or Azure Blob but would rather access our files as an NFS or SMB file share. To improve access further, caching the data in faster storage when it is being actively used would remove any impediment from making really effective use of our data archive. Using the storage tiering feature of Cloud Volumes ONTAP we can make this kind of setup a reality.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP gives users the power to tier the cold part of their data to an object storage service, with support for both Amazon S3 and Azure Blob, while at the same time keeping the active portion of the data in their configured performance tier. Data automatically travels between the two tiers depending on how the data is accessed. Cloud Volumes ONTAP manages the data at the block level, which allows it to differentiate between hot and cold blocks of data, tiering all those that it determines are cold. A storage volume that uses data tiering can be exported as either an NFS, SMB, or iSCSI.

There are also two other big cost-saving aspects to using Cloud Volumes ONTAP for data archiving. Firstly, there are the NetApp storage efficiencies—data deduplication, data compression, compaction, and thin provisioning—which make sure you pay lower cloud storage costs. Secondly, using the pay-as-you-go model, you can keep your archive servers idle for most of the time, only running them for updates or restore operations.

Plus, using Cloud Volumes ONTAP data tiering enables you to retain the flexibility and seamless data access of NFS, SMB, or iSCSI, but with the Azure Blob and AWS S3 cost savings. All other Cloud Volumes ONTAP features, such as ONTAP snapshots and FlexClone® writable clones are still available for use with tiered storage volumes.

Another option to use alongside Cloud Volumes ONTAP is NetApp’s Cloud Sync. Using Cloud Sync data can be synchronized from any on-premises or cloud-based file share in an organization’s storage environments to an archive NFS or SMB share in Cloud Volumes ONTAP. Cloud Sync performs very efficient data replication between a variety of source and destination systems, and keeps data incrementally synchronized after the initial baseline copy. Additionally, Cloud Sync can incrementally synchronize data directly to Amazon S3 or Azure Blob, allowing users to create an archive by using the native data versioning capabilities of these cloud storage services.

SnapVault Archives with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

For existing NetApp customers, data can be archived from multiple ONTAP storage endpoints, whether on-premises or in the cloud, to a single, centralized Cloud Volumes ONTAP deployment using SnapVault®. Similar to SnapMirror®, SnapVault uses snapshots to form the basis of a block-level transport mechanism for copying data incrementally and efficiently from one ONTAP storage environment to another. However, with SnapVault, multiple source storage systems can archive data to the same destination system. Up to 1023 snapshots can be stored per volume.

The set of snapshots in the source and destination volumes of a SnapVault relationship can also differ. This allows you to keep longer term copies of data in a SnapVault archive, while at the same time removing these snapshots from active storage volumes. Using lower-cost storage for the SnapVault archive will directly affect storage costs, as the older snapshots from the source volume are effectively moved to more cost-efficient storage in the archive.

SnapVault destination volumes can also be placed onto storage aggregates that are tiered to Amazon S3 or Azure Blob, allowing more cost-effective storage to be used for long-term archive data storage. Whenever users need to access the archived information, Cloud Volumes ONTAP will automatically pull the necessary data into the performance tier to facilitate efficient access. This tiering can be done on a volume level. This provides the ideal balance between cost effective storage and efficiency of access.

Conclusion: Building a Better Data Archiving Strategy

Data archives and data archiving software are essential for companies to easily and cost-effectively hold onto information that is important but not readily in use. Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides sophisticated features for creating data archives in the cloud. The data tiering feature of Cloud Volumes ONTAP, which can be used to move cold data to an object data store and then read it back in when required, helps to store data cost effectively, while retaining the ability to access the data seamlessly whenever that is required.

The data tiering feature supports volumes that are exported as NFS, iSCSI, or SMB shares, as well as destination volumes for SnapVault or SnapMirror. This means that whether you are currently using NetApp solutions or not, with Cloud Volumes ONTAP you can still create an effective data archiving solution in the cloud.

New call-to-action

Aviv Degani, Cloud Solutions Architecture Manager, NetApp

Cloud Solutions Architecture Manager, NetApp