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Azure High Availability

Cross-Zone High Availability with Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Azure

To protect against data loss due to hardware failures or other events that can cause disruptions in service, Azure offers different storage redundancy options, each with different levels of protection and cost. The redundancy is accomplished by synchronizing multiple copies of your data for optimum Azure high availability even if one of the data copies fails.

With Azure’s Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS) you can achieve synchronous replication of data across multiple zones within a region. Starting with Cloud Volumes ONTAP v 9.12.1, you can now take advantage of Azure ZRS disks, allowing Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Azure with HA configuration across zones.

In this article, we learn how Cloud Volumes ONTAP is deployed in a high availability configuration across zones by leveraging ZRS managed disks, its benefits and use cases.

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Deploying Zone-Redundant Storage with Cloud Volumes ONTAP HA

A key component to ensure continuity for mission-critical workloads in the cloud is by deploying a zone-redundant storage. This approach provides greater availability and durability than operating in a single-zone, while still offering the flexibility and scalability of the cloud.

With Azure’s Zone Redundant Storage (ZRS) you can achieve synchronous replication of data across multiple zones within a region. This ensures that data is always available, even in the event of a zonal or data center failure caused by natural disasters, hardware issues, or other factors. In the event of a failure, Azure ZRS automatically redirects requests to the secondary storage location, ensuring that data remains available, and that business continuity is maintained. Besides providing protection against downtime and data loss, this feature reduces storage costs for critical workloads by eliminating the need for multiple storage accounts.

When deploying Cloud Volumes ONTAP in a Multi Availability Zone (MAZ) high availability (HA) configuration, Azure’s Zone Redundant Storage is used as the storage redundancy option with the underlying managed disks. With MAZ deployments, users can create reliable, highly available, and fault-tolerant ONTAP storage volumes.

While Azure ZRS offers data redundancy by synchronously replicating data across multiple zones within a region, Cloud Volumes ONTAP in a MAZ HA configuration ensures that data remains available in the event of a failure by using two storage nodes to carry out failover and failback processes. This allows enterprises to run mission-critical workloads with the ability to tolerate zonal failures, ensuring recovery point objectives of zero data loss (RPO=0) and recovery time objectives of under sixty seconds (RPO<60).

Benefits of Using Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Azure in HA Multi-Availability Zones

Besides the benefits of cross-AZ high availability and cost-savings offered by ZRS, when combined with NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, users can enhance the data availability for their mission-critical workloads. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key benefits Cloud Volumes ONTAP in a MAZ HA configuration provides:

  • Enhanced availability and business continuity with RTO < 60 seconds
    In a MAZ HA configuration, Cloud Volumes ONTAP uses two storage nodes, deployed in different AZs, with data synchronously mirrored to each other, and an automated failover and failback process.

    In the event of a data center, storage node failure, or periodic maintenance in the data center, a seamless switchover enables data access from the secondary node, in a matter of seconds, allowing applications to continuously access their data.

  • Zero data loss recovery point objectives
    Cloud Volumes ONTAP achieves Zero Recovery Point Objective (RPO=0) ensuring no data is lost in the failure event.

    With synchronous replication of data across zones, ZRS disks handle zone failures effectively within the primary region of operation.

  • Rapid failover for clustered applications
    Failover is a key mechanism of transferring control from one system component to another in the event of a failure or disruption. Since data is replicated across multiple zones in real-time, Cloud Volumes ONTAP HA allows for seamless, automatic failover to ensure business-critical applications stay up and running.

  • Flexible active/passive and active/active configurations
    Cloud Volumes ONTAP offers the flexibility to select active/passive and active/active configurations, allowing organizations to choose the right deployment model for their specific needs.

    In an active/active configuration, all node replicas are active and handle workloads at the same time. In the event of a failure, the workloads are automatically and transparently moved to the healthy node.

    An active/passive configuration consists of an active (primary) node and an inactive (secondary) node. The active nodes handle all the workload while the secondary node is only activated in case of a failure of the primary node, providing failover protection. This flexibility is beneficial for clients whose workloads have varying needs, as they can adjust the configurations accordingly, achieving a fine balance of cost, performance, and availability.

In addition, Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides centralized storage management and data protection capabilities, including snapshots, disaster recovery, backup and recovery, data cloning, and data tiering, which can be leveraged to enhance data resiliency and optimize storage utilization.

In disaster recovery situations, NetApp BlueXP replication technology SnapMirror® helps keep data loss to a minimum by replicating data to a Cloud Volumes ONTAP instance that may be located in a different Azure region or even in a different cloud provider.

Use Cases for Cloud Volumes ONTAP HA in Azure

The Cloud Volumes ONTAP HA configuration for Azure is considered ideal for mission-critical high-traffic storage workloads, such as enterprise and LOB applications, file shares, and databases. Common use cases of the Cloud Volumes ONTAP HA feature include:

  • Clustered applications
    Mission critical applications leveraging clustering mechanisms such as SQL FCI, SAP ASCS/SCS, GFS2 or other clustered applications that require minimal downtime and high availability can benefit from the automatic failover and data replication capabilities of Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Azure in a HA Multi-AZ configuration.

    Replicating data across multiple zones enables business continuity during zonal failures and outages. It also enables efficient storage orchestration through load balancing, enabling optimized access for intensive applications such as gaming and streaming platforms.

  • Backend storage for multi-zone AKS clusters
    When running applications in multi-zone AKS clusters, Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s HA configuration can be used for Kubernetes persistent volumes. With the built-in enterprise-grade features of ONTAP, high levels of data protection and resiliency that support any level of performance, and highly available file and block storage options, Cloud Volumes ONTAP in a MAZ HA configuration is an ideal solution for Kubernetes based mission critical workloads.

High Availability Is Just the Beginning

BlueXP Cloud Volumes ONTAP HA ensures high availability and zero data loss to support different use cases. Combined with Azure ZRS, Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides an efficient solution of multiple data copies stored across different Azure zones, ensuring data availability in the event of a failure.

Besides high availability, Cloud Volumes ONTAP deployments simplify every aspect of cloud-based storage:

Read about how BlueXP Cloud Volumes ONTAP HA enables Azure high availability with zero RPO, RTO < 60 seconds, automatic failover of shared storage here.

And learn more how Cloud Volumes ONTAP works with Azure proximity placement groups for logical resource collocation within the same data center to reduce latency and scale storage capacity.

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Oded Berman, Product Evangelist

Product Evangelist