NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP Valuable Features

John Hegyi
Lead Storage Engineer at a insurance company with 5,001-10,000 employees

I'm very familiar with working from the command line, but Unified Manager, System Manager, and Cloud Manager are all GUI-based. It's easy for somebody who has not been exposed to this for years to pick it up and work with it. Personally, for the most part, I like to get in with my secure CRT and do everything from the command line.

We do a lot of DR testing of our environment, so we're using a couple of components. We use Unified Manager to link with WFA, Workflow Automation, and we do scripted cut-overs to build out. We use the mirroring to mirror our volumes to our DR location. We also create snapshots for backups. Snapshots will create a specified snapshot to be able to do a DR test without disrupting our standard mirrors. That means we can create a point-in-time snapshot, then use the ability of FlexClones to make a writeable volume to test with, and then blow it away after the DR test.

We could also do that in an actual disaster. All we would do is quiesce and break our mirrors, our volumes would become writeable, and then we would deploy our CIFS shares and our NFS mounts. We would have a full working environment in a different geographic location. Whether you're doing it on-prem or in the cloud, those capabilities are there. But that's all done at a lower level.

The data protection provided by the Snapshot feature is a crucial part of being able to maintain our environment. We stopped doing tape-based backups to our NAS systems. We do 35 days of snapshots. We keep four "hourlies," two dailies, and 35 nightly snapshots. This gives us the ability to recover any data that's been accidentally deleted or corrupted, from an application perspective, and to pull it out as a snapshot. And then there are the point-in-time snapshots, being able to create one at a given point in time. If I want to use a FlexCone to get at data, which are just pointers to the back-end data, right now, and use that as a writeable volume without interrupting my backup and DR capabilities, those point-in-time snapshots are crucial.

The user can go and recover the file himself so we don't have to have a huge number of people working on recovering things. The user has the ability to get to that snapshot location to recover the file and go however many days back. Being that it's a read-only a file to the user community, users can get at that data, as long as they have proper rights to that file. Somebody else could not get to a file for which they don't have rights. There's no security breach or vulnerability. It just provides the ability for a user who owns that data to get to a backup copy of that data, to recover it, in case they've deleted or had a file corruption.

We also use their File Services Solutions in the cloud, CIFS and NFS. It works just as well as on-prem. The way we configure an environment, we have the ability to talk back to our domain controllers, and then it uses the standard AD credentials and DNS from our on-prem environments.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP in the cloud, versus Data ONTAP on-prem, are the exact same products. If you have systems on-prem that you're migrating to the cloud, you won't have to retrain your workforce because they'll be used to everything that they'll be doing in the cloud as a result of what they've been doing on-prem. In that sense, Cloud Volumes ONTAP is the exact same product, unless you're using a really old version of Data ONTAP on-prem. Then there's the standard change between Data ONTAP versions.

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Christian Gruetzner
Service Architecture at All for One Group AG

The high availability of the service is a valuable feature. We use the HA version to run two instances. That way there is no downtime for our services when we do any maintenance on the system itself.

For normal upgrades or updates of the system - updates for security fixes, for example - it helps that the systems and that the service itself stay online. For one of our customers, we have 20 systems attached and if we had to ride that customer all the time and say, "Oh, sorry, we have to take your 20 systems down just because we have to do maintenance on your shared file systems," he would not be amused. So that's really a huge benefit.

And there are the usual NetApp benefits we have had over the last ten years or so, like snapshotting, cloning, and deduplication and compression which make it space-efficient on the cloud as well. We've been taking advantage of the data protection provided by the snapshot feature for many years in our on-prem storage systems. We find it very good. And we offload those snapshots as well to other instances, or to other storage systems.

The provisioning capability was challenging the first time we used it. You have to find the right way to deploy but, after the first and second try, it was very easy to automate for us. We are highly automated in our environment so we use the REST API for deployment. We completely deploy the Cloud Volumes ONTAP instance itself automatically, when we have a new customer. Similarly, deployment on the Cloud Volumes ONTAP for the Volumes and access to the Cloud Volumes ONTAP instance are automated as well.

But for that, we still use our on-premise automations with WFA (Workflow Automation). NetApp has a tool which simplifies the automation of NetApp storage systems. We use the same automation for the Cloud Volumes ONTAP instances as we do for our on-premise storage systems. There's no difference, at the end of the day, from the operating system standpoint.

In addition, NetApp's Cloud Manager automation capabilities are very good because, again, it's REST-API-driven, so we can completely automate everything. It has a good overview if you want to just have a look into your environment as well. It's pretty good.

Another feature which gets a lot of attention in our environment is the File Services Solutions in the cloud, because it's a completely, fully-managed service. We don't have to take care of any updates, upgrades, or configurations. We're just using it, deploying volumes and using them. We see that, in some way, as being the future of storage services, for us at least: completely managed.

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Padmaja Reddy
Storage Architect at NIH

The migration is seamless. Basically, we shouldn't be spending a whole lot budget-wise. We would like to have something reasonable. What's happening right now is when we try to develop a cloud solution, we don't see the fine print. Then, at the end of the day, we are getting a long bill that says, "Okay, this is that, that is what." So, we don't want those unanticipated costs.

We use the solution’s inline encryption using SnapMirror. We did get Geoaudits and things like that. In other words, everything put together is a security. It's not like just storage talking to the cloud, it's everything else too: network, PCs, clients, etc. It's a cumulative effort to secure. That's where we are trying to make sure there are no vulnerabilities. Any vulnerabilities are addressed right away and fixed.

The solution’s Snapshot copies and thin clones in terms of operational recovery are good. Snapshot copies are pretty much the write-in time data backups. Obviously, critical data is snapshotted more frequently, and even clients and end users find it easier to restore whatever they need if it's file-based, statical, etc. 

The solution’s Snapshot copies and thin clones have affected our application development speed positively. They have affected us in a very positive way. From Snapshots, copies, clones, and things, they were able to develop applications, doing pretty much in-house development. They were able to roll it out first in the test environment of the R&D department. The R&D department uses it a lot. It's easy for them because they can simulate production issues while they are still in production. So, they love it. We create and clone for them all the time.

The solution helped reduced our company's data footprint in the cloud. They're reducing it by two petabytes of data in the cloud. All of the tape data, they are now writing to the cloud. It's like we have almost reached the capacity that we bought even before we knew we were going to reach it. So it's good. It reduces labor, because with less tapes, you don't have to go around buying tapes and maintaining those tapes, then sending them offsite, etc. All that has been eliminated.

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Learn what your peers think about NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: April 2021.
502,104 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Storage Engineer at a media company with 5,001-10,000 employees

One of the most valuable features is its similarity to the physical app, which makes it familiar. It's almost identical to a real NetApp, which means you can run all of the associated NetApp processes and services with it. Otherwise, we would definitely have to deploy some hardware on a site somewhere, which could be a challenge in terms of CapEx. Also, in our case, in Europe, in terms of physical real estate, we are trying to reduce the size of our data centers.

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Amarjeet Singh
Cloud Architect at a tech vendor with 10,001+ employees

The feature which I like the most is that it has the capabilities that the traditional storage system offers. It provides all the functionality. The deduplication and compression work exactly like ONTAP's traditional storage. So people who have experience with that find it very easy to manage. And, exactly like the traditional NetApp system, it provides you SnapMirror and the Qtree functionality, which means you have the multi-protocol mechanism. That is something that many of the cloud-native file services do not have. 

The capacity is also flexible. You can start from a small disk and you can go with a bigger disk size.

CVO is quite well when it comes to use the file services on a cloud-native platform. 

It does have some compliance features. If a person is looking for compliance with GDPR, he can use the compliance feature provided by Cloud Volumes ONTAP. Most companies have some kind of compliance software for example, Data Custodian.A second option would be to go with the compliance feature provided by Cloud Volumes ONTAP. You can implement policies that would restrict the usage of data. NetApp doesn't control the data, the data stays with the company.

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Infrastructure Consultant - Storage, Global Infrastructure Services at a insurance company with 10,001+ employees
  • The data tiering capability
  • Deduplication
  • Compression

The data efficiencies are valuable, If we want to combine compression and deduplication.

It is valuable to us that it runs natively in Azure. 

Using this solution, we are also in control of our backups. In regards to disaster recovery, we don't have to rely on Azure or Microsoft to fail anything over. We are in control of backups and replication (or disaster recovery). 

With NetApp, you can integrate malware scanning or malware protection. This is something valuable that is not offered in SaaS solutions typically.

The solution provides us unified storage as long as it's unstructured data that can be accessed through a file share. We are in control of the portability of the data. We are not locked into Azure with this product. For example, if we wanted to go to AWS, there is that capability. If we wanted to pull this data or solution back to on-premises, there's that capability. Therefore, there is some flexibility in the control of the data versus being locked into a non-proprietary solution, e.g., just within Azure.

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Senior Analyst at a comms service provider with 5,001-10,000 employees

The storage efficiencies are something that you don't get on native.

Also, because of the NetApp product, we're able to use the SnapMirror function and SnapMirror data from our on-prem environment into Azure. That is super-helpful. SnapMirror allows you to take data that exists on one NetApp, on a physical NetApp storage platform, and copy it over to another NetApp storage platform. It's a solid, proven technology, so we don't worry about whether data is getting lost or corrupted during the SnapMirror. We are also able to throttle back the speed of the SnapMirror to help our network team that is paying for a data circuit. We're still able to copy data into Azure, but we can manage the transfer cost because we can throttle back the SnapMirror. It's just very solid and reliable. It works.

And all of us IT nerds are already familiar with the NetApp platform so there was not a major learning curve to start using it in Azure.

NetApp also has something called Active IQ Unified Manager, and it gives us performance monitoring of the CVO from an external source. There are several people on my team that utilize the CVO and we each have a personal preference for how we look at data. The Active IQ Unified Manager is a product you can get from NetApp because, once you license your CVO, you are entitled to other tools. CVO does have resource performance monitoring built in, but we primarily utilize the Active IQ Unified Manager.

Beyond that, it provides all the great stuff that the NetApp platform can do, but it's just in the cloud.

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Shricharan Ganesh
Technical Architect at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees

The storage tiering is definitely the most valuable feature. With the pay-as-you-go plan, we can choose between standard and premium storage, but we use only premium for high performance. High IOPS and low latencies are the main features of the premium storage. With respect to tiering, the inactive data is pushed to a lower tier where the storage cost is cheap, but the access cost is high.

NetApp also has something called SnapMirror replications and that's how we replicate our data from production to the DR site, for our BCP. It has pretty solid solutioning for the replications so the SnapMirrors are pretty handy when it comes to BCPs.

In terms of cloud resource monitoring, we use Unified Manager and it's pretty cool. It has both Excel-based metrics as well as graphical representations, which give us a clear idea of which particular file systems have performance problems. We can go over the statistical information and it comes in very handy. At the same time, it has an alerting mechanism where any sort of conditions can be configured and alerts are then sent to your mailbox or your mobile SMS.

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Eyal Shimony
Sr. Manager at a tech vendor with 10,001+ employees

The snapshot ability we're using is very good, SnapMirror. For example, we have a vault account and we can SnapMirror our volumes to that vault account. It has a NetApp that sits on it as three buckets and acts as our offset backups.

The FlexClones make all the management easier for us.

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Sr. Systems Architect at a media company with 10,001+ employees

The most valuable features are 

  • tiering to S3 
  • being able to turn it on and off, based on a schedule.

These are valuable because of the effect on cost. All of the data that is stored in AWS is, obviously, very expensive if stored in EBS volumes or spinning disks, but it's pretty cheap in S3, so that makes good financial sense. 

For the shutdown and startup, it's the same thing. Since it's a backup copy, we don't need that filer running all the time, so we just shut it down. We only turn it on before the replication starts, and then shut it off after the replication is complete.

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Storage Admin at a comms service provider with 5,001-10,000 employees

The most valuable feature is DR backups. 

ONTAP's snapshot copies and thin clones in terms of operational recovery are pretty useful in recovering your data from a time in a snapshot. That's pretty useful for when you have an event where a disaster struck and then you need to recover all your data. It's pretty helpful and pretty fast in those terms.

We use SnapMirror inline encryption for security in the cloud. A lot of people, especially legal, want their data to be protected. That's what we use it for.

Snapshot copies and thin clones have made our recovery time a lot faster. Doing a restore from a snapshot is a lot better than trying to do a restore from a backup.

In terms of time management and managing our infrastructure, we are a lot better because of the consistency of storage management across clouds.

I wouldn't say it has reduced our data footprint in the cloud because whatever we were using was basically a lift and shift as of right now. We are hoping as we go we'll be able to take advantage of all the storage efficiencies like compression and all that. Hopefully, that'll save us quite a lot of space and time.

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Consultant at I.T. Blueprint

The most valuable features are the ease of management, the deduplication, storage optimization, SnapMirror, it has flexible in testing for different scenarios, rapid deployment of the test environments, and rapid recovery.

The fast recovery time objective with the ability to bring the environment back to production in case something happens.

The ability to go back in time. It's easy to restore the data that we need and it has good stability with CIFS. When a client is using CIFS to access their files, it is pretty stable without knowing Microsoft issues.

The simplicity and ease of usage for VMware provisioning are also helpful.

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Senior Manager, IT CloudX at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees

What is most valuable is that the system is the same as what we use on-prem. So the guys who are responsible here for managing NetApp feel comfortable with it& and that they have enough knowledge to manage the system in the cloud. We are able to& keep the same standards that we have on-prem in the cloud.

The usability is& great. We don't have any issues with it.

We're using snapshots as well and it's a pretty useful feature. That is one of the main NetApp benefits. Knowing how to use snapshots in the on-prem environment, using snapshots on the cloud solution was natural for us.

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Infrastructure Architect at a transportation company with 10,001+ employees

It is the same technology that we run on our sites. All of the backup functions and recovery are similar. It's the exact same process. From a learning experience, it's the same. If you learn ONTAP itself, then you can do Cloud Volumes ONTAP without an issue.

The main feature of it is what we call "native backup technology." We're not using somebody else's technology backup, we're using NetApp. 

The other important part to us is the Cloud Manager. It gives us a single pane of glass to look at the environment. Everything is remote right now but we will be backing up some on-premise very shortly.

Lastly, the API and web services are fairly good. That is an important feature too. We write some code to do different things. We have code that runs to make sure that everything is being backed up as we say it is and we try to also detect places where we may have missed a backup.

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Lead Engineer Architecture & Engineering Services at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees

On-premises, we are using the same NetApp. We find the solution in Azure to be more reliable and tailorable in NetApp with the same NetApp features because it gives us the most updated NetApp solution.

If you have a larger amount of data than normal in the cloud, it is easy to provision and maintain. Waiting for the delivery of the controller, the configuration of enclosures, etc., all this stuff is eliminated compared to using on-premise.

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Parag Veerkar
Infrastructure Architect (Hybrid Cloud Hosting) at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees
  • CIFS volume.
  • The overall performance that we are getting from CVO.
  • The features around things like Snapshots. 
  • The performance and capacity monitoring of the storage.

These features help us to have a backup of our volumes using the native technology of NetApp ONTAP. That way, we don't have to invest in other solutions for our backup requirement. Also, it helps us to replicate the data to another geographic location so that helps us to save on the costs of backup products.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP gives us flexible storage.

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Ed Alexander
Senior Systems Administrator at a computer software company with 10,001+ employees

ONTAP is extremely reliable.

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Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
  • Dedupe
  • Compression
  • Compaction
  • Taking 30 gig of data and reducing it down to five to 10 gig on the AWS blocks.
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Storage Specialist at a comms service provider with 1,001-5,000 employees

Replication to the cloud is the most valuable feature. Deduplication and compression are also very important to us. We are in the process of adopting the cloud. We are going to AWS and we are trying to do a safety technician call out with integration to the cloud. NetApp allows us to move some of the volumes to the cloud, at the same time that we continue providing the cloud services that we have on-premises.

We are in the process of doing various plans for all equipment in order to do acceptable recovery of products in the new environment.

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Sr Storage Engineer at Ripe NCc

For us, the value comes from the solution's flexibility, speed, and hopefully cost savings in the long term.

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Systems Engineer at a healthcare company with 1,001-5,000 employees

The ability to Snapshot and SnapMirror between locations is the most valuable. The solution’s Snapshot copies and thin clones in terms of operational recovery works very effectively. If you want to automate it, use SnapCenter 2.0. Otherwise, do it manually. It's not that hard to do.

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Senior System Analyst at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees

The flexible volumes are its most valuable features because we can increase and decrease the volumes. 

There is unified storage, which provides flexibility. It is set up perfectly for performance and provisioning. We are able to monitor everything using a separate application. It provides error and critical warnings that allow us to take immediate action through ONTAP. We are able to manage everything, log a case, and follow up with the support team, who can fix it. That is how it is unified.

We can take a Snapshot. We created a snapshot policy for the cloud, non-cloud, and test so there are three policies. We take Snapshots daily and weekly. This hardly takes any of our attention.

It is very comfortable to learn and work with when managing everything, e.g., with upgrades and maintenance. We can do everything perfectly. 

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Pre-sales SE at a computer software company with 1,001-5,000 employees

Our customer finds SnapMirror to be valuable.

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Sr Systems Engineer at a healthcare company with 1,001-5,000 employees

The most valuable features are the native filer capabilities because a lot of SAN providers don't do that. When they do it, they do it with an appliance or a secondary. With this, it is just baked in right there on the system that you require. You don't have to have anything extra.

The solution’s Snapshot copies and thin clones in terms of operational recovery are the best thing since sliced bread. Rollback is super easy. It's just simple, and it works. It's very efficient.

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Systems Engineer at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees

The solution's Snapshot copies and thin clones is a really fast and easy method for recovery.

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Sr Systems Engineer at Ucare

The most valuable feature of this solution is that it makes our data readily available and we don't have to go through a lot of trouble to access it.

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Storage Engineer at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees

Multiprotocol is the most valuable feature because Amazon was not able to provide us with access to the same data from Linux and from Windows clients. That was our value proposition for CVO, Cloud Volumes ONTAP.

The operational recovery of snapshot copies and thin clones is very fast and efficient. We do a lot of database refreshes, and the dual clones and copies have reduced a lot of operational time.

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CTO at Poria

The most valuable features are that it's easy to manage and it's reliable. 

I haven't had to restore the Snapshot copies and thin clones. Every time I check, it's working.

I don't use the inline encryption.

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Solution Architect at a tech services company with 201-500 employees

The most valuable features of this solution are SnapShot, FlexClone, and deduplication.

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Learn what your peers think about NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: April 2021.
502,104 professionals have used our research since 2012.