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How FSx for ONTAP Solves Storage Challenges for Lift-and-Shift Migration

Cloud-native services can be a central part of your long-term cloud strategy. But if your data and applications are still on premises, you need to get them to the cloud to make that strategy a reality.

The fastest way to do that is with a “lift-and-shift” migration, because it prioritizes moving to the cloud without making any complex changes to your applications or data. And Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP can help you do it.

In this article, we’ll look at the FSx for ONTAP features that can help simplify your lift-and-shift migration and the integral role the service can play in your cloud adoption.

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The Heavy Lifting of Lift-and-Shift Migrations

A cloud migration is always a complex and effort-intensive process. If your organization is about to take one on, there are multiple challenges you need to be prepared to handle before you migrate a single byte to the cloud.

Let’s understand some of these challenges.

There’s no time for downtime
While doing a lift-and-shift migration, you need to consider the possibility of downtime during a cutover. Unless your data replication is synchronous, you could face data loss during a cutover to the cloud.

The amount of downtime you can expect also depends on the amount of data you’re moving. Migrations with large datasets make the process more difficult.

Migration and cloud costs can get out of control—fast
One of the major drivers for migration is the economy of the cloud, but the migration is where costs start adding up.

To make sure your data transfers to the new cloud environment as cost-efficiently as possible and remains optimally stored when it gets there, you need a storage solution that can preserve and provide storage efficiency and optimization features.

Multiple protocols, multiple pain points
When you have applications that use multiple protocols such as NFS, SMB/CIFS, iSCSI, and S3, you’ll need to support all of them in the cloud.

So, your cloud deployment might need duplicate resources for each protocol in use. That can mean major operational and cost concerns.

Keeping data secure before, during, and after the move
During a data migration, you need to keep your data secure, both when it’s in transit and after it’s at rest in the new cloud environment. Not all migration tools offer the same level of security, and new environments might require configuration before they can comply with security standards.

Additionally, any access control lists (ACLs) and metadata associated with the data should also be protected to avoid disruptions after the migration.

Database migrations are more complex
While migrating databases to cloud, you might initially need to create multiple copies of the databases for testing purposes. That can be highly storage intensive, especially at the enterprise level, and increase your overall migration costs. Organizations should look for solutions to optimize the migration process without significantly increasing their storage footprint.

Unstructured data has its challenges too
Migrating unstructured data can pose its own challenges, mainly due to factors such as the amount of data, the format it uses, and the way it’s accessed and managed. Most important, you need to find a cloud storage solution that supports all these on-premises factors.

Moving to a storage service that doesn’t support all the features you require might lead to reconfiguring applications, which will add to your operational overhead and increase your costs.

Picking the right migration tool
There are a lot of migration tools out there, especially for lift-and-shift migrations. Which one should you pick? The tool should be compatible with your on-premises storage environment and applications to ensure a smooth migration. If you’re using on-premises storage based on NetApp® ONTAP® data management software, you also want a tool that’s able to preserve all your native storage efficiencies; otherwise, you’ll face a longer migration process and a larger footprint in the cloud after you get there.

Luckily, FSx for ONTAP can help you solve many of these issues.

How FSx for ONTAP Solves Lift-and-Shift Migration Storage Challenges

FSx for ONTAP delivers all the capabilities of NetApp ONTAP through a fully managed AWS service. Whether you’re using ONTAP on premises or not, FSx for ONTAP can make your lift-and-shift migration to AWS much easier.

FSx for ONTAP is built on mature NetApp technologies that have served the migration and data management needs of enterprises for close to 30 years. Here are some of the solution’s benefits that will make life easier during your lift-and-shift migration to AWS.

Multiple migration tools
Depending on the configuration of the source environment, you can choose from multiple tools that can get your data to the cloud and make sure downtime is kept to a minimum.

  • If you’re migrating from ONTAP systems, you can rely on the NetApp SnapMirror® asynchronous data replication tool. This native NetApp feature can be used to replicate data between on-premises ONTAP systems and FSx for ONTAP just as easily as it can move data between different ONTAP systems. SnapMirror can also handle transferring any delta data that might need to be replicated after the initial synchronization of data and before the cutover.
  • If you aren’t currently using NetApp storage repositories, there are even more options. AWS DataSync is an AWS data migration service that works with any on-premises NFS or SMB servers and can migrate data to FSx for ONTAP. The NetApp BlueXP™ copy and sync service can be used to replicate data from any on-premises NFS or SMB server, regardless of vendor, to FSx for ONTAP.

Multiprotocol support
FSx for ONTAP supports multiple protocols and access methods. It supports file storage access through NFS and SMB, block storage through iSCSI, and S3 object storage. This is all possible from the same file system, which makes it easy to manage and can save costs.

With this feature, even legacy applications that are configured using multiple file access protocols can be easily lifted and shifted to AWS and operate seamlessly in the new environment.

Copy ACLs and security controls
By using native NetApp tools such as SnapMirror or BlueXP copy and sync, you can preserve all the existing ACLs between your source ONTAP systems and the new FSx for ONTAP environment. This eases up storage administration, because you don’t have to go through the whole ACL configuration process again after the migration.

Simplified migration and automation
Because FSx for ONTAP is offered as a managed AWS service, the migration process can be managed with native AWS tools, such as the AWS CLI, the AWS SDK, or AWS CloudFormation. This makes for a sustainable and repeatable migration process, which will help with large-scale data migration.

Case Study: How This Medical Equipment Producer Migrated an SQL Database to FSx for ONTAP

One company that performed a lift-and-shift migration to FSx for ONTAP is a US-based medical equipment company that produces medical devices to treat a range of respiratory conditions. It also provides software to healthcare agencies to help manage patient care. These operations take place in well over a hundred countries worldwide, earning the company an annual revenue in the billions of dollars.

The company wanted to move SQL Server databases to AWS from a co-located data center using non-NetApp storage systems. The database serves a SaaS application that automates the workflow associated with physician orders, medication, and treatment administration records—a highly critical workload.

FSx for ONTAP proved to be a pivotal part of this solution, for a number of reasons:

  • Availability: The company’s SQL Server is run in an always-on availability group, writing production data to two separate storage environments.
  • Easy migration: The migration process to FSx for ONTAP was carried out smoothly and quickly via SQL Server log shipping.
  • 40% cost reduction: The company saved significantly by moving the workload to FSx for ONTAP. This is largely due to the built-in NetApp storage efficiency features, as well as lower licensing costs.
  • Lightweight clones: FSx for ONTAP makes it possible to automatically create database clones for pre-production and testing. This is similar to the cloning automation the company operated with previously, making the shift to the cloud seamless for its DevOps teams.

Other FSx for ONTAP Features and Advantages

FSx for ONTAP offers many other features that will help with overall storage management in AWS post-migration.

AWS-native integration
FSx for ONTAP is a first-party service that’s fully managed by AWS, so it’s integrated with AWS services. That means you can easily use it with other AWS services for containerization, Kubernetes, compute services, analytics, databases, monitoring, and much more.

Reduced cloud storage costs
FSx for ONTAP is equipped with all the signature storage efficiencies of ONTAP, so it’s an outstanding way to natively deduplicate, compress, compact, and thin-provision storage on AWS. Data tiering makes it possible to tier your data from your primary SSD-based storage to lower-cost object storage, which reduces the amount you pay for SSD storage every month.

Centralized management
In addition to management with the AWS console, you can use NetApp BlueXP for centralized management of multiple FSx for ONTAP instances along with your other ONTAP systems. You get a single pane of glass to manage all your ONTAP systems whether they’re deployed on premises, on AWS, or with any other environment.

Automation tools such as the AWS SDK, the ONTAP CLI, and RESTful APIs can help you automate all functions—including migration tools—and reduce operational overhead.

Enhanced security
In a migration, keeping data safe is crucial. FSx for ONTAP supports data encryption in transit and at rest, and its encryption keys can be managed through the AWS Key Management Service (KMS). FSx for ONTAP has built-in security solutions, such as Vscan or FPolicy, to protect data from viruses and ransomware infections.

Data protection
After you’ve migrated to the cloud, you can further protect your data in FSx for ONTAP by using NetApp Snapshot copies. Snapshot technology creates point-in-time, storage-efficient copies that help you quickly recover data if something goes wrong. You can also use these Snapshot copies for backup and disaster recovery purposes by leveraging SnapMirror to enable cross-region replication.

High availability
FSx for ONTAP is deployed in a highly available architecture that spans one or more Availability Zones. This architecture maintains business continuity by enabling a recovery point objective (RPO) of zero and a recovery time objective (RTO) that’s under 60 seconds.

High performance
FSx for ONTAP is built to deliver up to 4GBps of throughput, 160,000 IOPS per file system, and submillisecond latencies.

Scale-out file systems deliver a maximum throughput of 36GBps and 1.2 million IOPS—offering up to 9x higher performance.

FSx for ONTAP is also equipped with latency-reducing capabilities, including caching data remotely by using local NVMe-based SSDs and file caching from edge locations (using NetApp FlexCache® technology and BlueXP edge caching) to bring data closer to users in disparate locations and ROBO (remote office or branch office) workforces.

Ready to Move to the Cloud? Here’s How to Lift-and-Shift with Confidence

The cloud is where today’s business happens. If you’re ready to try it out, the fastest way to get there is with a lift-and-shift migration. And the way to do that on AWS is with FSx for ONTAP.

FSx for ONTAP delivers a lift-and-shift migration solution that’s enterprise ready. It provides out-of-the-box integration with both the NetApp and AWS environments.

You can lift and shift your workloads to AWS using any of the tools that fit into your architecture, preserve your security and ACL controls, and migrate data with minimal downtime: The cloud is yours.

Regardless of whether you’re currently using ONTAP storage, if you’re planning a large-scale migration to AWS, you’ll get more when you migrate with Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP.

Learn more about FSx for ONTAP success stories in these customer case studies.

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Semion Mazor, Product Evangelist

Product Evangelist