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Cloud Volumes ONTAP marks a breakthrough for storage management in the cloud, with features including instant snapshots that are always space efficient and easy to restore, storage volume cloning, space efficiencies that reduce costs, data replication, and much more.
A platform this powerful requires an interface that is both easy-to-use and fully featured, which NetApp provides in the form of Cloud Manager, a modern, web-based UI for cloud storage management.
In this article, we look at how Cloud Manager guides you through the process of deploying Cloud Volumes ONTAP and helps you easily perform, automate, or orchestrate complex operations, such as replicating data from on-premises systems into the cloud or between different clouds with a simple drag-and-drop. The drag-and-drop feature is key in use cases such as “lift and shift” cloud migration, DR, archiving, and data consolidation and collaboration.
Using Cloud Manager
NetApp Cloud Manager centralizes the management of all Cloud Volumes ONTAP deployments across your organization. In fact, to start using Cloud Volumes ONTAP, you must first deploy Cloud Manager from the AWS marketplace or Azure marketplace.
In this section, we will go through the process of setting up a new instance of Cloud Volumes ONTAP and demonstrate using Cloud Manager to perform a number of routine operations.
1. Deploying Cloud Volumes ONTAP
The first step to deploying Cloud Volumes ONTAP is to log in to Cloud Manager, which will bring you to the main dashboard.
The working environments dashboard presents a visual representation of our hybrid cloud NetApp storage services, whether they are in AWS storage, Azure storage, or on-premises. Initially, the dashboard is empty, and we are prompted to start a new deployment of Cloud Volumes ONTAP.
Clicking “Create” kicks off the wizard that we can use to either tailor the setup configuration for a new deployment of Cloud Volumes ONTAP or to discover an existing ONTAP storage service, whether on-prem or in the cloud.
For new instances of Cloud Volumes ONTAP, we can choose the cloud environment to use and whether high availability is required. The wizard will then proceed to start collecting some basic information, such as the name of the new instance, the administrator credentials to be used, and the region and VPC or VNet we wish to deploy into. With AWS storage options, there are also additional options that allow data at rest to be encrypted.
We can now select a preconfigured package of settings for Cloud Volumes ONTAP based on the expected workload, or alternatively specify a custom configuration. Hovering over each package displays details of the options that will be used.
We can optionally set up a new volume as part of the deployment or skip this step and set up volumes later using the Cloud Manager UI.
When setting up new volumes in AWS or Azure, we have the option of automatically tiering cold data to Amazon S3 or Azure Blob, respectively. Automated tiered storage dramatically reduces storage costs for infrequently accessed data, such as for cloud-based DR environments. By taking advantage of native tiering levels, costs can be further reduced.
We are now ready to deploy Cloud Volumes ONTAP after reviewing and approving the setup. Clicking “Go” will automatically allocate the AWS or Azure compute and storage resources required to run our new instance of Cloud Volumes ONTAP.
The wizard now returns us to the dashboard from where we started, and we can see our newly deployed instance initializing. This process completes within ~25 minutes and results in our first Cloud Volumes ONTAP working environment.
Now that the Cloud Manager provisioned all the cloud resources to comply with your requirements, we are ready to start moving data into this new environment.
2. Discover an ONTAP Cluster
To replicate data into our new Cloud Volumes ONTAP working environment, we must first add the source ONTAP storage cluster to our dashboard, which may be an on-premises NetApp storage system or another instance of Cloud Volumes ONTAP in AWS or Azure. Clicking the “Add Working Environment” button in the top left will restart the wizard we used previously, however, this time we will use the “Discover” tab. This will allow us to discover an existing ONTAP system, and then replicate its data to the cloud by a simple drag-and-drop operation.
From the discover tab, we can access both on-premises and cloud-based ONTAP deployments. After clicking the first option, the wizard will prompt us for the network address of our on-premises NetApp storage appliance.
3. Setting Up SnapMirror Data Replication
After completing the wizard, we are again returned to the dashboard, however, now we will also see the on-premises system that was just added. To start replication, just drag and drop the source working environment onto the destination and Cloud Manager will initiate the replication wizard.
We can then simply click to select the source volume to replicate from and specify the configuration options for creating the destination volume. It is also possible to limit the transfer rate in order to control bandwidth usage and prevent negatively impacting other applications.
The replication wizard now gives us the option to select the type of replication we require. We can either choose to mirror, which makes the destination volume an exact replica of the source, or opt for the backup policy, which allows multiple source volumes to target the same destination, thereby creating a single repository for long-term backups. We will select the mirror policy, as this is more suited to setting up DR environments.
The final step is to choose a schedule for when data synchronization should take place to the destination after the initial baseline copy. This sync is always a transfer of only the incremental changes made at the source since the last time source and destination were synchronized. If you were to select the five-minute schedule, replication will only need to send over the changes made at the source in the last five minutes, and the destination will stay up to five minutes behind the source. The incremental transfer of changes from source to destination makes Cloud Volumes ONTAP replication both fast and efficient.
We can now review and approve our replication setup and click “Go” to start the initial data transfer to the destination. The Cloud Manager takes care of the cluster peering, the inter-cluster peering, the replication setup, etc. While the replication relationship is being established and started, the Cloud Manager takes us back to the working environments dashboard, where we can see a graphical representation of the replication relationship.
4. Snapshots, Restore & Data Cloning
To create snapshots and clones in NetApp Cloud Manager, simply double click the working environment in which they are to be created and detailed information about the environment, including its volumes will be displayed.
Hovering over any of the volumes brings up the burger menu button from which we access the snapshot and cloning functionality. Creating a snapshot is as easy as choosing a name for the new snapshot and clicking “Create”. Cloning is just as easy; specify a name for the clone and Cloud Manager will snapshot the volume as it currently exists and create a clone based on that snapshot.
Users can also restore from a previous snapshot, which behaves in a similar way to cloning, except that you can select the snapshot to create the clone from. Creating snapshots, cloning and restoring from snapshots are all instant operations, regardless of the source volume size or the snapshot storage location.
5. Unified Storage Management
As demonstrated above, Cloud Manager provides a single interface from which you take control of all your hybrid cloud deployments. These deployments can be split across multiple tenants in order to break down and simplify the overall management of your storage services as your requirements grow.
Multiple users can be granted access to Cloud Manager and assigned a predefined role that controls each user’s permissions level. Users can either be a Cloud Manager Admin with full permissions across all tenants, a Tenant Admin with full permissions for a specific tenant, or a Working Environment Admin with full permissions to one or more working environments within a tenant.
Tracking and monitoring are also available for all operations that have been performed through Cloud Manager from the Timeline view, which can be filtered for a specific working environment.
6. Automation and Orchestration
As well as performing all of the operations we have gone through from the Cloud Manager graphical user interface, every action is also available programmatically from the RESTful API.
NetApp Cloud Manager is a single-pane management tool for the standardization and integration of cloud storage management across an organization. In addition to enterprise governance, Cloud Manager simplifies and unifies the process of performing complicated operations in a repeatable manner; processes such as setting up cross-site data replication, cloud storage synchronization, or creating volume snapshots and clones, while at the same time adhering to best practices.