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Cloud File Sharing

File Sharing in the Cloud on GCP with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

We estimate that 80% of enterprise data is stored in files, from productivity applications and backend legacy applications to modern cloud-native applications that still often rely on files to structure the information held in cloud object storage. With more and more enterprise workloads making their way to the public cloud, the need for high-performance cloud file sharing is only going to grow.

In this article we discuss the challenges of file storage in the cloud and describe how NetApp’s cloud data management platform, Cloud Volumes ONTAP, delivers enterprise-grade file shares on Google Cloud Platform.

Cloud File Share Challenges

Some of the key challenges of file sharing in the cloud are:

  • Performance: Cloud file shares are expected to provide the same low-latency performance as on-premises and must be able to agilely scale out and up on request and non-disruptively.
  • Availability: Cloud file shares must achieve strict uptime and durability SLAs, often requiring complex manual configurations for failover/failback processes.
  • Accessibility: Not all cloud file shares can support the multiple file sharing protocols that are in common use, such as CIFS/SMB and NFS.
  • Data protection: File data must be backed up and replicated in order to ensure full and immediate recovery in any situation (including disasters) where data becomes corrupted, infected, or is accidentally (or maliciously) deleted.
  • Cost containment: Enterprise file shares typically have massive storage footprints in both their primary (production) and secondary (backup, DR) sites. Without careful management, storage and transfer costs can spiral out of control.
  • Disparate Locations: In globally dispersed operations, users need the same access to the most up-to-date data. This requires a solution to consolidate data.
  • Multicloud/hybrid architectures: File shares are often deployed both on-premises and on the cloud, including across multiple clouds. These complex environments create data portability and management challenges.

Why Cloud Volumes ONTAP for File Sharing on the Google Cloud

There are multiple Google Cloud storage options, but major enterprises around the world have turned to NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP to enhance their cloud file sharing on GCP. Cloud Volumes ONTAP is a data storage and management platform that deploys on native Google Cloud resources. It provides enterprise-grade performance, availability, accessibility, and data protection along with cost containment capabilities and single-pane management across multicloud and hybrid architectures.

With Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Google Cloud, enterprises benefit from a wide array of benefits, from lift and shift migrations, superior performance over cloud-native file shares, and multiprotocol accessibility to scalability, data protection, enhanced security, and reduced storage footprint.

File Sharing on Google Cloud with Cloud Volumes ONTAP Success Stories

In this section we describe how two multinational giants from different verticals have used Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Google Cloud to accelerate their cloud strategies in general and their cloud file sharing capabilities in particular.

Global Healthcare Services and Products Company

This UK-headquartered healthcare services company’s ~50,000 employees provide integrated care coordination and patient management solutions to hospitals and other health institutions in 46 countries.

To facilitate the public cloud migration of its on-premises legacy systems, the company required a storage platform that can seamlessly transfer between on-premise data centers and its two chosen clouds: AWS and Google Cloud.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP has provided the following file storage advantages:

  • Problem-free “lift and shift” migration of mission-critical application data using NetApp data replication technology SnapMirror® and Cloud Sync. With SnapMirror, Cloud Volumes ONTAP non-disruptively synchronizes file shares across cloud and on-premises repositories, with no need for costly and risky refactoring or rearchitecting of the applications that access the file shares.
  • Limitless scale, solving the volatile demand spikes of enterprise file sharing. Cloud Volumes ONTAP ensures that the file shares scale up and out in response to peak demands.
  • Provisioning storage automatically via NetApp Cloud Manager, an easy-to-use, centralized control plane that provides end-to-end visibility across the enterprise environment. Whether using the Cloud Manager interface or API integrations, Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Google Cloud supports high levels of data management automation and orchestration such as scheduling snapshots, managing backup and restore, and DR failover/failback processes.
  • Data protection via NetApp Snapshot™ technology, which rapidly creates storage-efficient read-only views of a volume that can be used as point-in-time recovery points—with minimal storage costs and no impact on performance. Snapshots are also the backbone of Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s secondary disaster recovery (DR) cross-region instances.
  • Multi-protocol access for both SMB/ CIFS and NFS file shares. With Cloud Volumes ONTAP file shares are stored on top of native GCP Persistent Disks yet support both the Windows CIFS/SMB and the Linux NFS (v3, v4.1) file access protocols.
  • Allocation of Kubernetes persistent storage volumes via Cloud Volumes ONTAP and NetApp Trident.

Multinational Investment Bank and Financial Services Company

This NYC-based financial company is a leading global investment bank whose broad service portfolio includes prime brokerage, asset management, and securities underwriting.

This company had already been relying on NetApp FlexCache as part of its on-prem NetApp deployment. With FlexCache, they were able to remotely cache data between their locations, making it easier to distribute files and increase performance. When moving to Google Cloud, the company was looking to retain those same benefits while leveraging a higher level of automation for their compute-intense investment analysis workloads.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Google Cloud provides the following benefits:

  • Extending the usage of FlexCache to the Google Cloud. FlexCache has been part of NetApp on-prem deployments for years, bringing data closer to users by caching copies of the source data at disparate locations. Cloud Volumes ONTAP extended that capability to the cloud, lowering latency and speeding up performance.
  • High performance storage. Benchmark testing has shown that Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Google Cloud outperforms GCP Persistent Disks in terms of latency, IOPS, and throughput, depending on the Google Cloud compute instance as well as the type of transaction.
  • Terraform integration through Cloud Manager to automate their storage framework.
  • Security features to meet their stringent industry standards. Cloud Volumes ONTAP encrypts data at rest, with SnapMirror also encrypting data in flight. Other enterprise-grade security features include key management and role-based access control, including the support of access control lists (ACLs) for SMB file shares.
  • Leveraging Cloud Volumes ONTAP to support managed services they offer their own customers.
  • Reduced cloud data storage costs via built-in storage efficiencies such as data deduplication, compression, and as thin provisioning. The automated tiering features automatically tier active and inactive data between performant storage on Google Cloud Persistent Disk and capacity storage on cost-effective Google Cloud Storage.


With Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Google Cloud enterprises get the best of both worlds for their cloud file-based storage. With file sharing in the cloud, enterprises benefit from cloud agility, elasticity, and operational efficiency without forfeiting the performance, availability, and data protection of on-premises file servers. Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Google Cloud enhances these benefits of file sharing in the cloud and ensures seamless data mobility and optimized storage footprints across the enterprise’s entire Data Fabric—even in complex hybrid and multicloud architectures.

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Yifat Perry, Product Evangelist

Product Evangelist