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What Sets NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP Apart

Check out the prime differentiators of the CVO storage operating system on AWS, Azure and GCP.

April 29, 2021 8 minute read

Almost without exception, the corporate cloud journey starts with a vision. Organizations across industries have goals, or sets of goals, they hope to achieve as they set out to pursue the promise of cloud. And, inevitably, they find no shortage of products and solutions — toolsets — available from technology companies looking to help them unlock cloud’s vast potential.

One of the many ways WWT can help you navigate this ocean of offerings is through our Advanced Technology Center (ATC), a B2B platform built on a collection of physical labs, virtualized to create a collaborative innovation ecosystem. Customers come here to test and compare solutions, without impacting operations, in a replica of their own environment.

This proving ground connects to the Equinix co-location center in Ashburn, Va., where virtually all service providers are peered into. The advantage here is very low latency, so we can see how various solutions perform if customers choose to leverage the Equinix platform.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP shines in four important aspects.

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP (CVO) is a data-control platform with data management capabilities and storage efficiencies that enterprise IT leaders have long relied on in their data centers for file and block workloads. CVO lets you run traditional and cloud-native applications anywhere. You can move them across the hybrid/multicloud without redesigning your code, your processes or your teams.

Our experience with customers in the ATC led us to focus on CVO because it’s the most versatile, flexible integration available today — a virtual Swiss Army knife in terms of what cloud storage can do. CVO offers:

1. Freedom of choice

With a unified code architecture, CVO can deliver both file and block storage management. File storage supports NFS and SMB as well as NetApp FlexCache to extend those capabilities on premises. FlexCache makes your data instantly accessible wherever CVO is deployed, so there’s no wait time while the data is being transferred. Moreover, you don’t incur the same costs as when buying a standard storage volume; just size your cache and pay only for that amount.

For block storage, CVO provides centrally managed high performance with enhanced resilience delivered natively on AWS, Google Cloud and Azure. Simply attach CVO block storage to one or multiple cloud-based applications, databases and containers and get built-in backup, security and performance monitoring.

CVO also offers two consumption models: pay as you go and bring your own license (BYOL). You can purchase the pay-as-you-go option directly from your cloud-provider marketplace and be charged on an hourly basis. The BYOL model is a license, purchased from NetApp, that’s installed in your CVO instance. BYOL subscriptions can be purchased in 1-, 2- or 3-year increments. 

For short-term application needs, or for environments that need to spin up or down on demand, the hourly pay-as-you-go consumption model makes the most sense. If your application is more deterministic or will be used for longer periods of time, the annual subscription might be better. Within each consumption model are multiple solutions that start at a single node with 2TB raw capacity and range up to two-node high-availability (HA) environments with up to 368TB of raw capacity. 

2. Simplicity

Through integration with NetApp Cloud Manager, CVO delivers a centralized control plane to manage, monitor and automate your data in multi- or hybrid-cloud environments. Cloud Manager is a SaaS offering with brokers that extend into each of the three major hypercscalers for full-featured access to your data whenever and wherever you need it.

Cloud Manager lets you unify siloed storage systems on a single-pane console so you can control multiple ONTAP storage systems on premises and in AWS, Azure and Google clouds. It also empowers cloud architects to meet business objectives using simple, two-step provisioning tools. It automatically allocates the disk and creates the underlying aggregates based on the performance request you make, optimizing storage capacity for internal and external customers with automatic capacity scaling.

Volume export and sharing is also built into the two-step process so you don’t have to go back and rename old CIFS or shares. CVO works with traditional FAS and All Flash FAS systems, enabling the ability to interact and integrate with CVO via SnapMirror for high-speed data replication and FlexCache, as well as other complementary NetApp products like:

  • Cloud Compliance for HIPAA and PII data
  • Cloud Backup to back up data on premises to more affordable storage in the cloud
  • Cloud Insights for visibility into your entire infrastructure
  • Cloud Secure to guard against inappropriate data access

If you use Ansible integrations today for your on-premises ONTAP workloads, you can reuse the same workloads for CVO. It’s still ONTAP under the hood, so there’s no need to recode new workflows — simply reuse what you already have.

3. Protection

There’s no such thing as being too careful with your data in the cloud. CVO makes sure it’s well protected with native ONTAP features like instant Snapshot point-in-time copies of a storage volume. The Snapshot process is optimized so it doesn’t require a full copy of the source data, meaning CVO can create highly space-efficient snapshots very quickly.

We already mentioned integration with Cloud Secure, which features AI algorithms that detect ransomware attacks or any type of access anomalies. CVO also integrates with NetApp SnapVault, which creates a collection of Snapshot copies on a FlexVol volume from which you can restore data if the primary data is not usable. SnapVault lets you define a retention policy and lock it in place on a different instance of CVO or on premises — even directly to object storage using SnapMirror.

CVO features native encryption as well. Even if you have encryption for the underlying disk from your service provider, many IT organizations are finding they have additional security requirements mandating that they own the keys and/or have supplemental encryption that’s not provided by the service provider. That’s where NetApp Volume Encryption and NetApp Aggregate Encryption come into play, giving you the ability to either encrypt on a per-volume basis or the entire aggregate.

CVO supports WORM drives too, making sure your data cannot be accidentally deleted, overwritten by some type of malware or fall prey to any other malicious action.

For your all-important data backups, CVO can use SnapMirror to back up data to internal media and to another CVO instance. Above and beyond that, CVO can create native backups — complete with meta data — directly to S3, Azure or Google Cloud storage. And because SnapMirror transmits one thin replication data stream to create a single repository that maintains both the active mirror and prior point-in-time copies, you’re reducing both your storage footprint and bandwidth utilization.

4. Insights and optimization

CVO is application-driven infrastructure in that it has the ability to automatically provision the underlying infrastructure based on the type of volume request that comes in. So if you have a development pipeline where you’re constantly spinning up and tearing down workloads, CVO lets you automate provisioning and optimization processes to continuously deliver the right storage for applications — optimizing your storage costs and workload performance while enhancing data protection, security and compliance.

Suppose, for example, you have a Black Friday sale coming up. With CVO, you don’t need to run a very large instance or set of instances all the time. Instead, you can accommodate peak workloads on demand — not only scaling out by provisioning additional CVO instances, but also by changing the size of the instance you’re currently using without losing data. If you’re running an HA pair, CVO will automatically and non-disruptively change the instance size for you.

Through integration with SaaS-based Cloud Insights, CVO provides data-driven analytics for real-time monitoring, troubleshooting and cost optimization for your global cloud infrastructure.

Finally, CVO delivers serious waste-reduction efficiencies that include thin provisioning, compression, deduplication and data compaction, as well as data tiering, snapshots, and FlexClones — the power of which lies in the ability to make a copy of any data with zero impact on the storage you’re consuming until you start actually writing the data. You pay only for what you use.

WWT offers the technology and expertise to help you evaluate and test CVO against other solutions. Our ATC accelerates your decision-making process with capabilities that include product benchmarking, functionality testing and product comparisons that deliver timely, unbiased results.

See how Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help smooth the way on your journey to cloud. Launch our Cloud Volumes ONTAP Lab to experience how it performs in a real-world environment.

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