Google Cloud Storage Efficiency: How to Reduce Storage Footprint and Costs with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

Over the past few years, Google Cloud has established itself as an increasingly popular cloud provider, used by some of the leading companies worldwide. Its services, which include storage, data management, advanced analytics, DevOps, and security capabilities, are available across a broad range of industries in over 200 geographical regions around the globe. But what can you do about your Google Cloud costs?

Google Cloud sets itself apart through its competitive prices. Just recently, Google Cloud announced that its customer prices will continue to drop as Google’s technology advances. The independent benchmarking firm, Cloud Spectator, backed up these claims, ranking Google Compute Engine as the best option for cloud-based compute when looking at price vs. performance. However, compute and storage are not the same thing, as storage presents different challenges.

Google Cloud provides a range of features designed to minimize Google Cloud storage costs, such as discounting, rightsizing recommendations, per-second billing, and flexible pricing models. However, the more cloud services you employ, the more storage you are going to consume, and your Google Cloud bills can significantly add up.

NetApp offers a solution. In this blog post we introduce Cloud Volumes ONTAP features that are designed to optimize Google Cloud Storage, increasing efficiency and reducing cloud costs.

Applying Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s Storage Efficiencies to Google Cloud

In this section we dive into Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s major storage efficiency features which can be used to optimize your Google Cloud storage and reduce footprint and costs by 70%.

Data Compression

This automatic feature runs transparently, detecting any data block that can be compressed, and then compressing that data, significantly reducing storage consumption and costs by as much as 50%.

Data Deduplication

After performing compression, Cloud Volumes ONTAP detects identical data blocks, and saves a pointer to the identical block, instead of rewriting a whole new copy of that block. Since duplicates are quite common in datasets, especially with certain data types such as images, deduplication can be a particularly effective way to clear significant storage space and save up to 70% on storage expenses.

Data Compaction

The data compaction feature also runs transparently in the background, taking place after compression and deduplication. Data compaction makes sure that a physical storage block is used as completely as possible, filling it to capacity by fitting smaller chunks into the ONTAP standard 4KB physical block.

All three features— compression, deduplication, and compaction—are designed to work together to minimize the amount of storage used as much as possible, reducing Google Cloud storage costs significantly and clearing storage space to stay well within the Google Cloud storage limits.

Thin Provisioning

Storage admins frequently pre-provision storage resources up front, based on peak activity. However, most IT systems aren’t always running at their peak levels. As a result, companies often end up being charged for resources that go largely unutilized. Thin provisioning eliminates this wasteful practice by allocating storage capacity dynamically, only when data is actually written to a volume. The storage capacity is taken from a storage pool which is then returned once the data is deleted. This process not only reduces storage costs considerably, it eliminates the task of deleting unused volumes down the line.

Snapshot Technology

A Cloud Volumes ONTAP Snapshot™ is a copy of a volume that is stored space efficiently. The space-efficiency is due to the WAFL layout technology, which creates read-only pointers to blocks of data in the volume which are only updated when the original data block changes. To increase efficiency even further, updates are performed incrementally, with snapshots only pointing to blocks that have been added to or changed since the latest snapshot was taken. Each data volume can hold up to 255 Snapshot copies.


NetApp’s FlexClone® data cloning technology is extremely useful to DevOps teams using Google Cloud, allowing them to quickly spin up dev/test environments, provision new machines, and create volumes to test DR processes.

Leveraging NetApp Snapshot technology, FlexClone allows users to perform zero-capacity, flexible, and writable volume cloning instantaneously, irrespective of the source data size. This technology is extremely cost-efficient since users are only charged for the delta changes made to the copy.

Data Tiering

Google Cloud offers different storage types, from block-based Persistent Disk to object-based Cloud Storage. The storage options have varying performance attributes which are reflected in price. Storing data in a tier that isn’t optimal for that data’s usage pattern can lead to an unnecessary increase in cloud expenses. In one common scenario, companies that by default store all their data in high-performance tiers often end up paying high storage fees for large chunks of data that are hardly ever used. While Cloud Storage offers a number of different storage classes to optimize the performance with the data usage, there isn’t a native solution to tier data from highly performant Persistent Disk block storage to higher-latency object-based Cloud Storage. Cloud Volumes ONTAP data tiering makes that possible.

Data tiering ensures that data is stored in the optimal storage type for its usage. Frequently used data is stored on high performance Persistent Disks, but if that data is unused within a certain period of time it is considered cold and automatically transferred to lower-cost object-based Google Cloud Storage. Should that data be required for performant use again, data tiering automatically and seamlessly tiers that data back to Persistent Disk as needed.

DR and BC

Snapshot technology also enables the flexible creation of disaster recovery (DR) copies that enable business continuity for complex hybrid and multi-cloud environments using NetApp’s replication technology, SnapMirror®. Like Snapshot copies, any updates to the DR copy are carried out incrementally, keeping costs for storing and for transferring DR copies as low as possible.

DR copies also receive the benefits of Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s storage efficiencies, so data in the copy is always kept compressed, deduped, compacted, and tierable to less-expensive object storage when not in use. These features can play a central role in optimizing and enhancing Google Cloud disaster recovery and Google Cloud storage backup strategies.

A Case Study with the Hedge Fund of a Global American Investment Bank

The hedge fund is part of a multinational investment bank and financial services organization which uses research, technology and automation to model and trade in worldwide financial markets. The division creates risk models for their clients with advanced technology built on Google Cloud’s elastic grid computing capabilities.

To perfect its research analysis and simulation processing in Google Cloud, the team needed a way to mirror its on-premises data in the cloud, and required a scalable NFS platform that could easily integrate into their existing infrastructure and operations. For this purpose, the hedge fund turned to Cloud Volumes ONTAP.

In addition to reaching its primary goal, the team applied Cloud Volumes ONTAP storage efficiencies to its enormous 80 TB dataset and dramatically lowered its storage costs. It also employed NetApp SnapMirror technology to seamlessly replicate data from on-premises to the cloud and back.

See the savings for yourself, visit our Cloud Volumes ONTAP on Google Cloud TCO Calculator and see how other enterprises are saving on Google Cloud deployment right now.

A Final Note

Google Cloud is a great option when it comes to price. That said, since the cloud is complex and dynamic, companies must still use their cloud resources consciously and wisely to ensure costs are kept to a minimum.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP is designed to ensure Google Cloud storage efficiency, optimizing storage usage and as cost-effectively as possible. This is achieved through the broad range of capabilities we’ve discussed above: compression, deduplication, compaction, thin provisioning, Snapshot technology, data cloning, and data tiering. Find out more about how these benefits work in practice in these Google Cloud and Cloud Volumes ONTAP case studies.

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