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What customers say about ONTAP SnapMirror coming to Astra Control

October 16, 2022

Topics: Cloud Volumes ONTAPAstra 7 minute read

When a software vendor releases a new feature, they can drone on all day about why it’s a “game changer.” But at the end of the day, people know that the software vendor is supposed to say that. It’s their baby!

The real proof of a feature’s effectiveness is what actual customers are saying. In this blog, we’ll highlight recent conversations we had with SAP and Hyland about how they’re using NetApp® Astra™ Control for their Kubernetes deployments and how the addition of NetApp SnapMirror® support has made automated disaster recovery for their Kubernetes clusters a reality.

What is NetApp SnapMirror?

Kubernetes administrators generally aren’t aware of the specifics of storage features and functionality, because honestly, it’s not their job to know. What they care about is outcomes: How can they quickly and easily stand up an entire Kubernetes cluster at a remote site in the event of a disaster at their production site? How long will it take? What will the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) be?

That’s where NetApp SnapMirror comes in. SnapMirror is a part of the NetApp ONTAP® feature set. It provides:

  • Site-to-site replication built on NetApp’s flagship Snapshot™ technology
  • Incremental updates of only changed blocks for less traffic and faster job completion
  • Read-only copy of source datasets, with option to promote the copy to the primary dataset
  • Ability to reverse replication, resync, and resume SnapMirror operations
  • Restore entire datasets or individual files and folders
  • Secure transmission over the wire using TLS 1.2 encryption
  • Ability to replicate to and from cloud instances

SnapMirror offers outstanding flexibility for storage administrators to protect data volumes running on ONTAP software. But what about Kubernetes clusters? After all, they’re not just data volumes—they have a ton of configuration data that would also need to be used to stand up a new cluster at a disaster recovery (DR) site.

NetApp Astra Control

If you were on a sinking ship and had to hold your breath to stay alive, would you rather do it for a few minutes or 45 minutes?

That’s how it can feel in the middle of a disaster as you rush through all your DR steps to recover important business-critical applications and infrastructure and then hold your breath and hope that you didn’t forget any steps as you wait for everything to come back up again. And that’s why backup and recovery applications that can simplify DR workflows to a few clicks are so crucial to business success.

Additionally, the concept of DevOps means that operations teams and development teams must increasingly shift how they manage and consume their data. Storage administrators aren't Kubernetes experts, and developers don’t necessarily understand or care about the underlying infrastructure.

When it comes to managing applications, developers tend to know best what they need to keep things running, while storage administrators understand the cogs that help make those applications run more efficiently.

With NetApp Astra Control, storage administrators don’t need to be Kubernetes experts and developers don’t need to become certified in the latest ONTAP features to get the job done. Astra is designed for Kubernetes, with multiple roles in mind so that backup, recovery, and test/dev workflows can live where they make the most sense.

Astra can back up your Kubernetes configuration files and secrets, as well as kicking off SnapMirror replication jobs for mission-critical datasets with a few clicks. That ease of use and flexibility is why our customers are finding massive value in the NetApp Astra Control story. You can listen to the entire conversation in the TechONTAP Podcast Episode 341: NetApp Astra Control–The Customer Perspective. Also, check out Hrishi Keremane’s blog, “Business continuity for your Kubernetes applications with NetApp Astra.”

SAP: An Astra beginner’s journey

When you’ve had a lot of experience in one area of technology—such as NetApp storage—and then you’re asked to start supporting a completely different type of technology—such as Kubernetes—it can be a daunting task. What areas translate well? Which parts are completely different? How can you merge the two for the best of both worlds?

That challenge is exactly what Jacob Jiang ( Jacob.jiang@sap.com) in SAP’s SuccessFactors business unit faced as his group began to convert their monolithic application to a more agile containerized workflow. Their goal: a workflow powered by Kubernetes that can make better, more efficient use of the cloud.

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SAP SuccessFactors is the company's SaaS offering, which provides human capital management software (HCM) to businesses for HR, payroll, analytics, and much more to enhance the workplace management experience.

SAP is also a long-time NetApp customer with a heavy on premises and cloud presence, particularly in using NetApp ONTAP software. Jacob’s experience with NetApp has been positive; he loves the stability and the technical support. But now, he’s entering a new realm of NetApp products— NetApp Astra Control and its rich Kubernetes application data management functionality.

Fortunately, Jacob has the Astra Control team to help him along, including Product Manager Hrishi Keremane (hrishi@netapp.com), as he beta tests Astra Control. Jacob hopes that Astra Control can solve the age-old question, “How can I easily and efficiently back up my Kubernetes-backed applications to minimize downtime in the event of disaster”? Traditional backup and DR solutions, including ones that back up to tape, are not designed with Kubernetes in mind, so Jacob and SAP are looking for the right solution.

With the addition of SnapMirror support to Astra Control 22.08, that question becomes infinitely easier to answer.

Check out the entire conversation with Jacob Jiang from SAP.

Hyland: Let the right people focus on the right tasks

We spoke with Casey Shenberger of Hyland (casey.shenberger@hyland.com) about his experiences with DR plans and DR testing, as well as how NetApp Astra Control helps streamline that process for storage administrators and DevOps teams alike.

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Hyland is a leading content services provider that provides software such as OnBase and ShareBase for content management and image hosting, with a focus on security and compliance datasets.

Casey works in the hosting department, which is responsible for hosting the software they write. He’s been using NetApp since around 2007 and recently has been tasked with figuring out a way to make sure that their business-critical applications running on Kubernetes are protected in case of disaster. Casey is a NetApp expert, but he’s not as familiar with Kubernetes, so he’s looking for a solution that he can set up and hand off to his developers to manage, freeing him up for other infrastructure tasks.

One of the main challenges at Hyland was trying to navigate a long list of procedures for DR failovers and resyncs. With so many manual steps, the process was tedious and rife with potential failures—none of which you want to deal with in the midst of an outage. Although Casey and Hyland have automation in place, the time for failovers was between 45 minutes and an hour. With Astra Control and SnapMirror support, they’re now looking at cutovers reduced to a few minutes with low RTO and RPO, while also restoring the Kubernetes application objects and configurations—even when replicating to the cloud.

This kind of versatility and fault tolerance is exactly what customers like Casey Shenberger and Hyland are looking for when using NetApp Astra Control.

Check out the entire conversation with Casey Shenberger from Hyland.

Summary

So there you have it—two customers on different parts of their Astra Control journey with very similar challenges and very similar reactions to how crucial SnapMirror support is to the Astra Control product.

For the full podcast and transcripts of the customer conversations, watch Behind the Scenes Episode 341 – NetApp Astra Control DR – Customer Perspectives.

Principal TME, NetApp Cloud Volumes Service and Astra