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Data Archiving with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

Information matters more than ever to organizations, so it’s important to know how to make sure that data is stored safely and securely. Data archives are used to store information that remains valuable to an organization but is no longer in active use. But how can organizations do that without costs spiraling out of control?

In this article, we will examine the features of Cloud Volumes ONTAP that support seamless data archiving in both AWS and Azure cloud environments and how these features help to reduce costs without sacrificing data access or flexibility.

What is Data Archiving?

Data archiving differs from data replication in that it is not used to support disaster recovery (DR) or to create backup copies of data. While replication provides data protection for the current state of a data volume, data archiving relates to protecting a volume’s historical versions. Data archives are typically created for auditing purposes, to save costs, or to meet compliance requirements.

Archive data is a type of cold data. While frequently-accessed, hot data usually resides on fast and expensive storage formats to ensure its ready availability, cold data such as archive data is stored on inexpensive, capacity storage. This reduces operational costs, which is one of the best practices for archiving data. The additional latency associated with accessing archived data, however, is normally acceptable. It can often be case, however, that organizations find it difficult to effectively archive unstructured data, which intermittently require fast, on-demand access to it, and so end up using high performance storage for everything, which drives up costs.

Cloud Data Archiving

Data Archiving should make use of the most cost-effective solution for data storage Data archiving methods should make use of the most cost-effective solutions for data storage, ideally without the need to forfeit easy access to the data when required. This may not always be possible, as is the case, for example, with tape backups, which provide a cheap storage medium from which it is difficult to retrieve the stored data. In the cloud, we can choose from a range of storage options; however, getting the best fit is sometimes tricky.

For example, we may wish to take advantage of the durability and cost effectiveness of cloud object storage, such as that offered by Amazon S3 or Azure Blob but would rather access our files as an NFS or SMB file share. To improve access further, caching the data in faster storage when it is being actively used would remove any impediment from making really effective use of our data archive. Using the storage tiering feature of Cloud Volumes ONTAP we can make this kind of setup a reality.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP gives users the power to tier the cold part of their data to an object storage service, with support for both Amazon S3 and Azure Blob, while at the same time keeping the active portion of the data in their configured performance tier. Data automatically travels between the two tiers depending on how the data is accessed. Cloud Volumes ONTAP manages the data at the block level, which allows it to differentiate between hot and cold blocks of data, tiering all those that it determines are cold. A storage volume that uses data tiering can be exported as either an NFS, SMB, or iSCSI.

There are also two other big cost-saving aspects to using Cloud Volumes ONTAP for data archiving. Firstly, there are the NetApp storage efficiencies—data deduplication, data compression, compaction, and thin provisioning—which make sure you pay lower cloud storage costs. Secondly, using the pay-as-you-go model, you can keep your archive servers idle for most of the time, only running them for updates or restore operations.

Plus, using Cloud Volumes ONTAP data tiering enables you to retain the flexibility and seamless data access of NFS, SMB, or iSCSI, but with the Azure Blob and AWS S3 cost savings. All other Cloud Volumes ONTAP features, such as ONTAP snapshots and FlexClone® writable clones are still available for use with tiered storage volumes.

Another option to use alongside Cloud Volumes ONTAP is NetApp’s Cloud Sync. Using Cloud Sync data can be synchronized from any on-premises or cloud-based file share in an organization’s storage environments to an archive NFS or SMB share in Cloud Volumes ONTAP. Cloud Sync performs very efficient data replication between a variety of source and destination systems, and keeps data incrementally synchronized after the initial baseline copy. Additionally, Cloud Sync can incrementally synchronize data directly to Amazon S3 or Azure Blob, allowing users to create an archive by using the native data versioning capabilities of these cloud storage services.

Archive with Cloud Backup

NetApp understands ONTAP better than anyone else, which is why the best backup solution for ONTAP systems is NetApp Cloud Backup. Designed by NetApp specifically for ONTAP, Cloud Backup automatically creates block-level incremental forever backups. These copies are stored in object format and preserve all ONTAP’s storage efficiencies. Your backups are 100X faster to create, easy to restore, and much more reliable than with any other solution.

Cloud Backup simplifies the entire backup process. It’s intuitive, quick to deploy, and managed from the same console as the rest of the NetApp cloud ecosystem. Whether you’re looking for a less expensive way to store your backups, a faster, more capable technology than NDMP, or an easy way to enable a 3-2-1 strategy, Cloud Backup offers the best backup solution for ONTAP.

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Aviv Degani, Cloud Solutions Architecture Manager, NetApp

Cloud Solutions Architecture Manager, NetApp