Lavanya Snigdha

March 11, 2024

AWS FSx Integrates

with NetApp ONTAP


Lavanya Snigdha

3 min read
March 11, 2024

It is no secret that NetApp ONTAP is the reigning leader of data storage management services. With a valuation of over $8 Billion, NetApp ONTAP is the go-to data management suite for over 600 enterprises! (Organizations like Apple, Walmart, and Microsoft use ONTAP.)

But like all things to do with integrating into a hybrid cloud environment, no software suite is an island. Take vSphere by VMWare for example, they owned 83% of the world's virtualization market before they integrated with the largest public cloud provider in the world, making enterprise-level virtualization suites available to anyone on the AWS Cloud. A similar collaboration has been brewing up this last quarter.

NetApp's ONTAP has made its name amongst NetApp data center users as the go-to solution for managing storage saved on NetApp managed data centers. Though they are one of the few solitary independent data management suites in the market, ONTAP has been slowly but surely gaining ground as an easy to run alternative to Azure servers.

As of now, NetApp ONTAP owns about 0.5% of the entire Windows and Linux data management market, nowhere close to the 55% market hold held by Azure, and if they had to nudge their way further into the ecosystem, the only viable solution at hand would be for NetApp to align themselves with another public cloud storage who could go head-on with Azure and emerge victoriously.

Enter their Knight in shining armor: AWS FSx ❤️


Prior to the ONTAP update, the Amazon FSx family included Amazon FSx for Lustre and Amazon FSx for Windows File Servers. While AWS loyalists would continue to choose FSx for their storage requirements, what was missing was a simple straightforward way to manage data stored on FSx servers.

The NetApp ONTAP integration offers AWS users the opportunity to now raise FSx servers the old-fashioned way, or tap into ONTAP and avail a whole set of features like inline data compression, deduplication, compaction, thin provisioning, replication (SnapMirror), and point-in-time cloning (FlexClone.)

But that's not all! Here are some of the business advantages of picking ONTAP for FSx:

  1. Multi-Protocol – Support any workload or user via NFS, SMB, and iSCSI protocols.
  2. Price – Achieve SSD performance at 1/10th the cost with built-in storage efficiency technologies.
  3. Improved Performance – Leverage ONTAP’s enterprise-level performance for data access and data management capabilities.
  4. Integration – Tightly ingrained with NetApp data services, including Cloud Backup, Global File Cache, SnapMirror, and more.
  5. Scalability – Storage capacity that can grow and shrink automatically.
  6. Accessibility – Available to all native AWS cloud services, such as Amazon CloudWatch, AWS KMS, Amazon SageMaker, Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), and more.

On average, ONTAP users claim to be able to scale their storage in less than ten minutes while also ensuring saving time and money by sharing the same consolidated infrastructure for workloads or tenants that have different performance, capacity, and security requirements. ONTAP is also capable of creating a unified environment that spans file, block, and object storage.

Who is this for? And when should you be using it?

The most obvious answer would be enterprise companies that have a significant workload on Data centers that currently use NetApp ONTAP and they want to move to AWS cloud.

If your data is on the AWS public cloud and you're at minimum a mid-level enterprise then ONTAP would start to look really good to you. Especially if you are looking to migrate on-premises applications that rely on network-attached storage (NAS.)

Outside of which, here are some helpful use cases for ONTAP on FSx that might interest you just a bit more to move even your regular FSx servers to an ONTAP managed server:

  • Useful for applications that require reliable and scalable data access for home directories and project shares access across thousands of users.
  • FSx for ONTAP offers centralized, policy-based Snapshot, SnapVault, and SnapMirror to easily backup, archive, or replicate your on-premises workloads to AWS regions.
  • Deliver low-latency shared storage that meets the operational requirements of enterprise applications for workloads on SAP, Oracle DB/RAC, SQL Server, CRM, ERP, VMware.
  • Get the multiprotocol support for complex workflows with the flexibility to burst on-premises data to AWS - this can be a critical feature for line-of-business applications for a broad set of industries that depend on fast storage that can be shared across latency-sensitive Windows and Linux apps.
  • An easy to automate testing and development environment where you can combine infrastructure-as-code, flexible compute bursting, and FSx for ONTAP storage to create, clone, and replicate your configuration and resources.

Getting started with ONTAP for FSx

Getting started with ONTAP is easy enough; you obviously need an AWS account to begin with, but after which here's what you do:

  1. Create your first file system from the AWS Management Console, the NetApp Cloud Manager, or an API call.
  2. Choose a VPC and a pair of subnets (preferred and standby). Every SVM has an endpoint in the Availability Zones associated with both of the subnets, with continuous monitoring, automated failover, and automated failback.
  3. Open the Amazon FSx Console, click Create file system, select Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP and then you pretty much follow this setup wizard! (Let us know if you'd like a more detailed walkthrough of the setup process.)

With ONTAP for FSx, you can establish one or more Storage Virtual Machines (SVMs) within each Amazon FSx file system, each of which supports one or more Volumes. For shared block storage, volumes can be accessed through NFS, SMB, or as iSCSI LUNs. You may access each volume from AWS computing services, VMware Cloud on AWS, and your on-premises applications, as shown in this diagram:

Credits: Jeff Barr: New – Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP

On-premises applications currently using ONTAP can construct an ONTAP file system in the cloud, replicate data with NetApp SnapMirror, and access all the features that Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP has to offer in an AWS native environment.

Let's get down to the brass tacks

This collaboration has set every DevOps and infra manager's heart in a flurry and for good reason! Being able to secure, scale, and save money and time on Windows and & Linux workload management in an AWS native environment is just the kind of goldilocks solution that the market has been demanding for a while now.

Here's what some industry leaders have had to say about the ONTAP integration:

“By fully supporting NetApp ONTAP APIs and features like SnapMirror and SnapVault, Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP enables NetApp customers to seamlessly replicate their data from on-premises to the AWS Cloud.”

“Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP makes it easy for organizations to extend the power of ONTAP into AWS, enabling teams to easily use the NAS features and capabilities in AWS that they’ve come to love on premises.” Wayne Duso Vice President of File, Edge, and Data Services, AWS

AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr writes: “If you are migrating, you can enjoy all of the benefits of a fully-managed file system while taking advantage of your existing tools, workflows, processes, and operational expertise. If you are building brand-new applications, you can create a cloud-native experience that makes use of ONTAP’s rich feature set. Either way, you can scale to support hundreds of thousands of IOPS and benefit from the continued, behind-the-scenes evolution of the compute, storage, and networking components.”

Everything you need to get started

If FSx servers with a fully managed ONTAP suite is for you, here's all the information you will need to get started:

We hope that answers all of your questions on the latest collaboration between AWS and NetApp. Drop a comment if you'd like to see any more information on the topic or even if you just enjoyed reading about the integration!

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