When considering cloud storage initiatives, you might feel trapped between the appeals of two colliding worlds: the economics of the public cloud and the comfort of on-premises data storage. The NetApp® vision of a Data Fabric transcends this either/or dilemma. It lets you control where your data resides; move it with ease among flash, disk, and cloud resources; and choose the best data storage strategy for your particular needs.
But even using a data fabric to engage with the cloud can seem daunting. That's why we created our Data Fabric Solution Essentials. These low-barrier-to-entry starter kits offer a practical way to begin your cloud journey. Last month, I highlighted the Application Acceleration Solution Kit. In this article, I will delve into the Snap-to-Cloud Disaster Recovery (DR) Solution Kit, which provides a simple way to leverage your existing data management expertise and extend it into the cloud.
Choosing How and When to Move Data to the Cloud
Many government agencies and higher education institutions have cloud-first initiatives that are pushing them to try out the cloud. But putting primary data in the cloud, especially all at once, raises legitimate concerns. Will it mean learning entirely new data management tools and processes? What if you need access to some of your data faster than is possible with cloud downloads? And what about sensitive data that you'd like to keep close at hand all the time?
One of the most important aspects of the NetApp vision for the Data Fabric is that it lets you choose the best data management and storage approaches for each of your data types. The Snap-to-Cloud DR Solution Kit provides a vivid example of this approach. Its premise is that data backup for DR has important low-risk attributes: You don't need the data right away, and it's not data that's sensitive or critical to your core enterprise operations. In other words, it's a perfect use case for giving the cloud a try and seeing for yourself what it's like.
As shown in Figure 1, the Snap-to-Cloud DR Solution Kit is designed for those who want the flexibility of the cloud; the economics of renting vs. owning their data management resources; and the ability to experiment with cloud implementation in a very low-risk way.
Figure 1) The Snap-to-Cloud Disaster Recovery Solution Kit hits the sweet spot of intersecting needs for those contemplating cloud data storage.
Source: NetApp, 2016
Shifting the Emphasis from Backup to Restore
Here's something to keep in mind: Data backup has never been about backing up data. It's about restoring data. Backup is easy, but restoring data when you need it can be challenging, especially as storage technologies change. Over time, you've probably backed up data to tape, CD, and various other devices. As the generations of backup technology march on, the ability to restore data becomes more challenging.
One of the main appeals of cloud storage is that you no longer need to suffer from what I call generational backup angst. Who cares what software version AWS or Azure is running? When you store data in their clouds, you've effectively outsourced backup management to your cloud service provider. And disaster recovery in particular is well suited to the usage-based model of cloud computing.
Even so, you might want to keep your backed-up primary data on premises rather than in the cloud. With the hybrid cloud-based Snap-to-Cloud DR Solution Kit, you can back up some portion of your data to the cloud, while retaining critical, sensitive, or time-essential data in familiar on-premises storage. Plus, because of the way NetApp technology is designed, you can use the same enterprise-grade Data ONTAP® management processes for all your data, wherever it resides.
Figure 2) One of the NetApp Data Fabric Solution Essentials, the Snap-to-Cloud Disaster Recovery Solution Kit lets you transform your data protection, making the most of both cloud and on-premises resources.
Source: NetApp, 2015
One example of a NetApp customer using a hybrid cloud model to maintain control of data while enhancing disaster recovery is BlackLine, a leading provider of applications that automate and control the entire financial close process. Due in part to a Data Fabric enabled by NetApp and based on our Data ONTAP operating system, BlackLine enjoys seamless control of its data in and out of the cloud.
The company has grown by at least 50% annually for the past seven years because it offers an enterprise-class platform that meets the most demanding requirements for security, compliance, and availability. BlackLine's customers can't afford data loss or downtime. BlackLine's challenge has been to accommodate growth and offer new services while continuing to meet or exceed the very high service levels that customers expect from the company—all while maximizing efficiency to keep its prices competitive.
Initially, BlackLine used a managed hosting environment to meet this challenge. However, the company determined that it needed more control over the sensitive financial data it hosts for its customers. It transitioned to a hybrid hosting environment that combines on-premises colocation with cloud-based disaster recovery, providing the control BlackLine wants with the performance, resiliency, scalability, flexibility, and cost efficiency it requires to stay competitive.
Elements of the Snap-to-Cloud DR Solution Kit
I'm guessing that you already have in place at least some of the elements of the Snap-to-Cloud DR Solution Kit, which include:
- NetApp SnapMirror® data replication software. Think of SnapMirror technology as providing efficient "freeze-dried" or "deyhdrated" snapshots that are easy and cost-effective to move to and from the cloud and among various storage tiers. Because you manage SnapMirror software using NetApp management tools, data replication looks and acts the same on the AWS or Azure public cloud as it does on your on-premises FAS storage systems.
- NetApp Cloud ONTAP™ cloud storage operating system. The Snap-to-Cloud DR Solution Kit includes a one-year license for a NetApp Cloud ONTAP software subscription, with a 30-day free trial. The Cloud ONTAP software-only storage appliance extends your data fabric to the cloud. It's built on our clustered Data ONTAP operating system, so storage deployment and management remains unchanged whether for your on-premises data center or in the cloud. And you pay only for what you use.
- NetApp OnCommand® Cloud Manager. Set up your initial Cloud ONTAP configuration with a single management interface regardless of where your data is located.
- NetApp OnCommand System Manager. Configure and manage Snap-to-Cloud DR storage on your NetApp FAS storage systems, fast and simply.
- NetApp OnCommand Unified Manager. Monitor the health and status of your Snap-to-Cloud DR storage, and get alerts and suggestions for quick correction if anything goes amiss.
- NetApp FAS hybrid or All Flash FAS configurations. Whether you start with an entry-level FAS2500 storage array or deploy a sophisticated NetApp AFF8000 All Flash FAS (AFF) system, you can run your Snap-to-Cloud DR solution with grace and ease. In addition, all our FAS systems come with NetApp installation services and three years of support.
Figure 3) The elements of the Snap-to-Cloud Disaster Recovery Solution Kit include NetApp hardware, software, and services.
Source: NetApp, 2015
Toward Real Data Management
We designed our Snap-to-Cloud DR Solution Kit as an easy way to experiment with cloud storage—to see how it might work for you and your organization, without much risk or expense. From there, you can decide if you want to expand beyond cloud-based DR, such as with NetApp StorageGRID® Webscale object storage, which lets you put data in different clouds or on premises, based on their access. Or try NetApp AltaVault® cloud-integrated storage, which allows you to incorporate both public and private cloud storage as part of your backup and archive strategy.
In the end, NetApp lets you choose how to engage with public or private cloud resources to design solutions that range from an on-premises data center to a hybrid approach.
Data is different from other resources because it has to be protected, copied, moved, stored, and—ultimately—accessed so it can be put into action. Our Solution Kits allow you to plan strategically for where you place your data, how you move it around, and what criteria you use to handle various types of data.
Storage administrators are evolving into strategic cloud administrators. In this context, they are best positioned to evaluate where data should reside, how and when to move it back and forth between cloud and on-premises resources, and why.
This choice and flexibility is what the NetApp vision for the Data Fabric allows you to do. Get started today with our Snap-to-Cloud Disaster Recovery Solution Kit.