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Transforming Your Enterprise with Cloud Volumes ONTAP Data Management Software

August 22, 2017

Topics: Cloud Volumes ONTAP 6 minute read

For more than 20 years, NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP Data Management Software has been used with on-premises appliances as an indispensable platform for many enterprise-level organizations. However, data storage realities have changed. A wide range of new cloud services have revolutionized the IT industry, making storage, big data analysis, databases, compute, and more available for cheaper, faster, and more reliable than ever before.

But when businesses seek to create environments that retain their on-site capabilities with the storage management capabilities in the cloud, NetApp once again provides them with the solution: Cloud Volumes ONTAP (formerly ONTAP Cloud).

Cloud Volumes ONTAP takes NetApp’s Enterprise Data Management Software features and leverages them in the cloud by creating a NetApp appliance that is virtualized and ready for use with both on AWS and Azure cloud giants.

Whether looking to work exclusively in the cloud or to manage a hybrid architecture, Cloud Volumes ONTAP makes the cloud more familiar. This post will take a closer look at Cloud Volumes ONTAP, how it works, and how it can benefit your organization.

What Is Cloud Volumes ONTAP?

Cloud Volumes ONTAP works with the cloud to make virtual NetApp appliances that have the same features as traditional, on-premises systems. Cloud Volumes ONTAP uses Amazon EC2 for compute, and Amazon EBS for provisioning cloud storage. By leveraging the various Amazon EBS volume types, Cloud Volumes ONTAP can create storage tiers of differing performance.

Using the same Write Anywhere File Layout (WAFL) filesystem, Cloud Volumes ONTAP integrates seamlessly with ONTAP Data Management Software. Storage administrators who are used to working with NetApp will not feel as if there is any daylight between the two systems.

How Does Cloud Volumes ONTAP Compare to ONTAP Data Management Software?

The ONTAP Data Management Software features that you are familiar with are all part of the Cloud Volumes ONTAP feature set—the only difference is that now all of those things are happening in the cloud.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP makes use of inline data compaction, thin provisioning, data compression, and deduplication so that you can use space more efficiently than you would using cloud storage on its own. It also supports both NFS and CIFS file share types as well as iSCSI, making Cloud Volumes ONTAP capable of supporting any of the operating systems deployed for your applications.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP also supports CIFS-user and group Active Directory authentication. It is able to create snapshots that outperform Amazon EBS snapshot creation: on Cloud Volumes ONTAP, snapshot space is only consumed for data changes.

These ONTAP Snapshots are essential to FlexClone, an advanced feature that allows for the instant creation of writable storage volume clones, which might best be described as snapshots that are writable.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP also uses iSCSI storage allocation, managing block-level Amazon EC2 allocations the same way that on-premises environments would handle them. Being able to allocate storage from different tiers makes sure that there is a manageable way to always use storage resources appropriately.

And of course, data replication and backup are an important part of Cloud Volumes ONTAP—utilizing SnapMirror to meet data replication and incremental sync for on-prem hardware and SnapVault to create a backup solution for the cloud.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP in Action

OnCommand Cloud Manager is used to deploy Cloud Volumes ONTAP.

OnCommand Cloud Manager is used to deploy Cloud Volumes ONTAP.

Available on the AWS and Azure marketplaces, OnCommand Cloud Manager has a web-based UI that can manage Cloud Volumes ONTAP and existing on-premises ONTAP systems. A wizard guides new users through an easy setup process for the creation of new instances and volumes, system configuration, provisioning AWS resources, and more.

OnCommand Cloud Manager also makes finding on-premises systems and replicating from them to ONTAP instances via SnapMirror a fast part of building a hybrid architecture.

In the areas of backup and DR, NFS and CIFS file shares, DevOps, and containerization, Cloud Volumes ONTAP has a wide utility that allows:

  • DR and Backup: Recovering from a total system failure is a nightmare scenario that administrators always have to be ready to address. Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s robust backup and DR capabilities eliminate the complicated efforts it takes to create from scratch the kind of storage, network, project coordination, and physical relocations that are necessary to build on their own.

    For DR, Cloud Volumes ONTAP uses SnapMirror to replicate data from on-premises systems and Cloud Volumes ONTAP and back, while SnapVault provides the features required to help make cloud backup systems possible. This topic is very important, so it’s important to read as much about it as you can.

  • NFS and CIFS File Shares: Created in no time and with ease, NFS and CIFS file shares allow single filesystems to be accessed for concurrent read and write operations by multiple applications and users.

    Using Cloud Sync, a data migration solution from NetApp that allows you to incrementally sync on-prem data with the cloud, either type of file share can integrate Cloud Volumes ONTAP and Amazon S3, exposing data within the file share to various cloud services, including Amazon Elastic Search and Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR) through OnCommand Cloud Manager.

  • DevOps: Cloud Volumes ONTAP uses FlexClone to instantly clone any volume, no matter what size the source data is. Making test copies is an important part of what developers need in their projects.

    It’s no easy task: many times copies need to be writable and able to be recreated quickly from huge amounts of source data. Backup and restore doesn’t cut it in that kind of test/dev scenario—mostly because of the overhead storage costs—even more so when you consider that multiple copies are required most of the time.

    Cloud Volumes ONTAP makes it easier, as FlexClone has a copy-on-write to allocate and write blocks only when the data in the clone is altered, making it more storage-efficient. FlexClone can be used with both OnCommand Cloud Manager or accessed through RESTful API, giving it perfect flexibility for DevOps teams.

  • Containerization with Docker: Docker containers are used to make sure application environments are consistently deployed.

    For Cloud Volumes ONTAP, NetApp provides the open-source nDVP Docker plugin. This tool makes managing storage in container environments easy. Less intensive than running VMs with all the necessary dependencies contained in one place, containers make perfect sense for deployments in the public cloud.


With all of the storage efficiency features mentioned above, Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help you considerably lower your native cloud deployment costs, which is the ultimate goal of the head of any IT department.

ONTAP Snapshots, FlexClone temporary copies, and space-efficient storage techniques such as thin provisioning, data compaction, and deduplication make Cloud Volumes ONTAP more than just an easy way to migrate to the cloud, but one that is cost-effective, too.

On-premises storage users have relied on ONTAP Data Management Software over the years as it has grown into a top tier platform for enterprise-level businesses, and have leveraged it in a number of ways to transform their IT models.

That same level of dedication and familiarity is now available to businesses that want to move to the cloud with Cloud Volumes ONTAP. Cloud Volumes ONTAP with OnCommand Cloud Manager, makes deployment and management of cloud infrastructure in conjunction with on-premises systems the best of both worlds.

Want to get started? Try out Cloud Volumes ONTAP today with a 30-day free trial.