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Your data, where you need it: Data mobility with Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP

Deployments in any environment demand data mobility, whether it’s for migrating data or for creating test, backup, or disaster recovery (DR) copies in specific locations. It’s all about getting the data safely and efficiently to where you need it most.

However, the data mobility process can get bogged down by data management, migration, and security challenges.

In this post, we show how Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP can address these challenges with the help of signature NetApp® ONTAP® data mobility features.

Read on to find out everything about FSx for ONTAP data mobility, or use these links to skip ahead:

Getting the data where you want it: Data mobility use cases

Data mobility requires making copies of data or replicating data from a source environment to a target environment. Here are some use cases in which data mobility is needed:

  • Data protection. Data replication is an integral part of any backup and DR strategy. The recovery point objective (RPO) determines how frequently the copies are synchronized, and the recovery time objective determines how quickly the copied data can be restored.
  • Data migrations and hybrid cloud deployments. Both data migrations from on-premises environments to the cloud and data replication jobs between environments in hybrid cloud architectures require efficient data mobility mechanisms. This is especially important when large amounts of data need to be moved and synchronized.
  • Development, integration, and testing. Data copies might be needed across environments for development, integration, and testing. But moving the data between these environments mustn’t affect the production deployment that’s currently using the data.

What makes data mobility challenging?

Whatever the use case, the process of moving data around is a complex undertaking. There are several challenges to consider:

  • Moving data might affect performance. Moving large datasets across environments could overwhelm a storage system. Data being accessed simultaneously by production applications while data replication is in process might impact the application performance and user experience.
  • Diverse environments add complexity. When moving data from various sources, there can be different data sources and protocols, along with multiple tools and services in use, and all need to be considered.
  • Data needs to be synchronized constantly. Ongoing data synchronization is necessary to maintain data integrity. The process needs to be automatic and seamless, and the data needs to be consistent and application aware.
  • Data needs to move securely. When you move data, you can’t expose it to unauthorized access or leave it vulnerable to attacks. You need solutions to preserve the existing security features, encrypt data in transit, and keep storage immutable through write-once, read-many (WORM) capabilities.
  • The costs of moving data. If your data footprint is excessively large, network transfer costs for moving data—whether it’s between sites, zones, regions, or hybrid environments—is expensive. Plus, saving copies of your data adds to your overall storage capacity.

Solving data mobility challenges with FSx for ONTAP

FSx for ONTAP is the fully managed AWS file service that brings trusted ONTAP technology to the AWS Cloud, making data mobility challenges much easier to handle.

To provide a higher level of data mobility, FSx for ONTAP takes advantage of NetApp SnapMirror® data replication technology. SnapMirror provides an efficient, high-performance replication engine for ONTAP-based systems, including FSx for ONTAP, letting you move data with optimized costs and minimal performance impact.

How FSx for ONTAP data replication works

SnapMirror uses NetApp Snapshot™ technology in the backend. Initially, Snapshot creates a copy of the source volume. This copy and its data block references are copied to the destination, which becomes the baseline copy for synchronization.

After the initial copy is created, whenever data in the source environment changes, a new Snapshot copy is created. This new Snapshot copy is compared with the original baseline to identify any changed blocks of data. If any are found, they’re replicated to the destination. This updated Snapshot copy becomes the new baseline copy. All further updates to the destination are similarly incremental in nature.

The destination volume stays in a read-only state throughout the process and remains accessible. Because the technology operates at the level of physical storage blocks, you can maintain an identical copy of data in the destination. The copies are consistent, application aware, and database aware.

FSx for ONTAP gives you the data mobility you need

FSx for ONTAP packs in a bunch of features that makes it a great solution for enterprise use cases that need data mobility. Let’s take a closer look at some of these features:

  • Performance. Using Snapshot and SnapMirror technology won’t impact the performance of your source volumes, even if data replication is happening in the background.

    Because SnapMirror replicates only changed and new blocks that have storage efficiencies applied, it uses much less network bandwidth.

  • Cloud migration and hybrid architecture mobility. Because SnapMirror replication technology operates over IP networks and is incorporated into any ONTAP product, SnapMirror has no distance limitations and can transfer copies across hybrid deployments that span AWS and your data center.

    This capability helps you create a data estate where your data is replicated across the different environments you’re using.

    Creating a data estate with SnapMirror and FSx for ONTAP.

  • Data protection. SnapMirror replication can achieve an RPO as low as 5 minutes. Its block-based and incremental-forever backups and DR copies are application aware and consistent.

  • Cross-region replication. FSx for ONTAP can replicate data across multiple AWS Availability Zones (AZs) or between AWS Regions. Cross-region replication is handy in implementing a DR strategy that protects your application from cloud region failures.

  • Storage efficiency. SnapMirror replication is block-level incremental forever, which means that updates consume storage only for changed data.

    Plus, FSx for ONTAP applies storage efficiencies that can reduce the overall size of your data by 65%. That means you’re both using less capacity in source volumes and replicating less data over the wire, which saves time, storage costs, and transfer costs.

  • Security. FSx for ONTAP supports native AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) controls and ONTAP security features to prevent unauthorized data access. Data at rest is protected through encryption that’s integrated with AWS Key Management Service. Data in flight during SnapMirror replication is also protected using best-in-class encryption such as TLS 1.2 and AES-256.

How a SaaS provider enhances application data mobility with FSx for ONTAP

One company that uses FSx for ONTAP data mobility is a United States–based business process automation and enterprise content management provider. Its software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering provides data automation and processes for enterprises.

The challenge for this company was the storage layer for the 400 Microsoft SQL Server databases supporting its multitenant SaaS applications. That data also needed to be replicated across AWS Regions to ensure business continuity.

However, the company couldn’t replicate these volumes across regions natively. The third-party data replication solution they turned to required duplicating the number of storage volumes in use—and that was a huge cost concern. This setup also wasn’t very reliable, as replications would fail frequently due to the large numbers of databases involved.

To find a better data mobility solution, the company switched to FSx for ONTAP, which provided several of advantages:

  • Cross-region protection. With FSx for ONTAP, the company created a SQL cluster that included two active SQL Server instances in one region with a passive SQL Server instance in a different region for DR. FSx for ONTAP replicates the production data from the active sites to the DR site by using SnapMirror. If a disaster occurs in any of the active sites, the DR site takes over seamlessly.
  • Less complexity. As a fully managed service, FSx for ONTAP performs all the cross-region data replication in the background. It doesn’t need an additional third-party failover solution or ongoing management and maintenance.
  • Greater reliability. Whereas the previous solution had difficulty with the large number of databases per cluster, FSx for ONTAP excels at handling data in all shapes and sizes without any issues.
  • High performance and cost efficiency. FSx for ONTAP delivers the high performance required by multitenant online SaaS workloads. Built-in efficiencies such as thin provisioning, deduplication, and lightweight Snapshot copies reduce the storage footprint, which reduces costs.

Fast-track data mobility with lower costs

With its integrated NetApp SnapMirror technology, Amazon FSx for ONTAP helps you fast-track your data mobility. You can perform quick and efficient data transfer across multiple environments without compromising on storage efficiency or cost, and without adding to operational overhead.

Don’t let your environment's complexity hold you back. Use Amazon FSx for ONTAP to achieve greater agility and efficiency.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager