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Lowering Disaster Recovery Costs by Tiering AWS EBS Data to Amazon S3

It’s the nightmare scenario of any IT department: Millions of customers around the world have no access to your site being hosted on a cloud service like AWS EBS. Data is being lost, money is being lost, and now people are starting to turn to you for answers.

Unfortunately, in the IT world nightmares do come true. With threats coming from ransomware attacks, human error, and even natural disasters, there is no question about the need to have a solid disaster recovery plan in place—but how much will such a plan costs to put into action is another matter: disaster recovery costs can take up a considerable part of any IT budget.

How can you lower your disaster recovery costs if you are using AWS to facilitate your disaster recovery plans?

NetApp has a number of ways to help you plan for failover, failback, and keep your RTO and RPO as close to zero as possible. One of them is Amazon S3 storage tiering with Cloud Volumes ONTAP (formerly ONTAP Cloud).

This post will take a closer look at this exclusive feature and show you how it can be leveraged to save you from spending too much to protect everything you have built.

Using Amazon S3 Storage Tiering with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

Storage is a big part of a disaster recovery environment. There lies the data that would only be accessed in case of an emergency, and it has to be kept somewhere until that catastrophic system failure takes place.

A DR solution needs to be able to recreate the environment and present the data to ensure business continuity and return to normal operations. It is the data that helps your site build itself back from the ground up. However,  you just don’t need this  data during normal operation.

Since you don’t need to access this data on a daily basis, the best solution is to keep it stored inexpensively. Paying too much for something not routinely used is wasteful. But you also want it to be accessible when disaster strikes, and you want to be able to quickly move that data back to a high-performance storage tier, such as Amazon EBS, when it’s needed.

That is exactly what storage tiering with Cloud Volumes ONTAP does.

When Cloud Volumes ONTAP finds data that is cold, it automatically shifts it from Amazon EBS to Amazon S3. That immediately cuts the amount you are paying since storage rates for Amazon S3 are significantly lower than those for Amazon EBS.

Should you wind up accessing that cold data sitting in Amazon S3 storage, Cloud Volumes ONTAP assumes you need it for an emergency and transparently pulls the data back to high-performing Amazon EBS.

This is possible because of SnapMirror, NetApp’s incremental synchronization solution. SnapMirror syncs on-premises data stored on your NetApp appliances with Cloud Volumes ONTAP, as would be required for any cloud-based DR environment.

When using Amazon S3 storage tiering, Cloud Volumes ONTAP automatically pushes the data SnapMirror sends to Amazon S3. The only data that remains stored in the Amazon EBS volume is metadata information.

How It Works

ONTAP Cloud High Availability

Getting started with storage tiering for Cloud Volumes ONTAP couldn’t be easier. All you need is a VPC endpoint for Amazon S3.

That VPC endpoint will make sure that all the communication between your network and AWS is securely encrypted. Cloud Volumes ONTAP will do the rest automatically. 

Cloud Volumes ONTAP can use either of two Amazon EBS storage types as a performance tier: General Purpose SSD (gp2) or Throughput Optimized HDD (ST1). The capacity tier is Amazon S3. 

Cloud Volumes ONTAP uses SnapMirror to replicate data, but it can also use storage tiering to automatically send cold data to Amazon S3 from ONTAP Snapshots. Cloud Volumes ONTAP  will automatically determine whether the snapshot data is cold or not, without you having to worry about it.

Cutting Disaster Recovery Costs with NetApp 

There should be no hesitation about the necessity of developing a robust disaster recovery plan; however, your next big concern is the budget you need to do that.

As safe and secure as it would make you feel to have copies of your data synced and stored in every available AWS region, there is a limit to the amount of funds you have to ensure your company’s quick and complete recovery from disaster.

NetApp has made a huge advancement in cutting disaster recovery costs in the cloud by making it possible for Cloud Volumes ONTAP to send cold data to Amazon S3, where storage is inexpensive, and seamlessly take it out when it is needed.

So what will happen to you when that big site failure takes place?

If you planned well, you have a cloud-based disaster recovery strategy that has already started to kick in. If you planned even better and utilized Amazon S3 storage tiering with Cloud Volumes ONTAP, you know that you didn’t pay too much for the systems that will get your company back up and running again.   

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