VMware Cloud on AWS is becoming a more and more popular choice to host VMware workloads in the Cloud. It is a VMware managed environment based on a SDDC solution including NSX, VSAN and vSphere products (vCenter, ESXi, etc.). One of the draw backs of this solution is, or should I say was, that you could not scale compute and storage resources independently. Meaning that when you need to add more storage you also needed to add more compute. Recently this has changed with the introduction of VMware Cloud on AWS with FSx for NetApp ONTAP.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with NetApp ONTAP please have a look here. The TL:DR version is that ONTAP is a unified storage solution that offers both NAS, SAN and Object high performance storage. And in the case of FSx it is a fully AWS native software defined storage offering based on ONTAP.
VMware Cloud on AWS
As described earlier, VMware Cloud on AWS offers a great solution to run native VMware products in AWS. By leveraging VMware Cloud on AWS you can extend your on-premises environment into the AWS cloud. But you can also run it all in the AWS cloud, giving you great flexibility and scalability.
You can utilise existing tools like vMotion and HCX to migrate workloads or use NSX to protect and optimise your network stack. But you can also integrate enterprise services natively with AWS services.
Another great use case cloud be disaster recovery in the VMware Cloud on AWS. No more need for expansive second datacenters and hardware sitting their doing basically nothing.
AWS FSx NetApp ONTAP
AWS FSx Netapp ONTAP offers you fully managed block and file storage native to AWS. Currently FSx NetApp ONTAP is the only native, AWS managed, storage service available in AWS.
AWS FSx ONTAP offers a familiar environment for existing NetApp ONTAP users offering all the great features you are used to when running your on-premises NetApp ONTAP environments. This offering is fully managed so no need for software updates or hardware replacements when hardware runs out of support and or is economically written of.
Using FSx NetApp ONTAP you get a feature rich, high performance, broadly accessible shared storage environment. FSx NetApp ONTAP offers high performance low latency SSD storage.
You can easily manage your data using Snapshots, flexclones and replications with a click of a button.
High level feature overview:
- Block and file level storage (iSCSI, NFS, SMB/CIFS)
- Snapshots and Flexclone
- Replication based on ONTAP SnapMirror
- Space savings using Deduplication, Compaction and Compression
- Elastic capacity tiering
- Multiple GBps throughput
- NetApp ONTAP API’s
- Data tiering to lower-cost elastic storage
With FSx NetApp ONTAP you can build a feature rich fully managed storage cloud environment. You can integrated FSx NetApp ONTAP with solutions like Amazone EC2, SAP HANA and of course VMware cloud on AWS.
VMware Cloud on AWS and AWS FSx NetApp ONTAP
So now that I gave you a quick intro into both products lets see what combining them can do for you.
One of the challenge’s you might be familiar with is the scaling of compute and storage resources independently when using a SDDC setup. Most of the time when you need to either scale compute or storage you need to add both. This problem is solved when leveraging VMware Cloud and AWS FSx.
With AWS FSx NetApp ONTAP you have the ability to mount iSCSI drives inside your VM’s or use SMB/CIFS for filesharing. But you can also have a NFS datastore directly in vCenter as to hosts VM’s on.
No more need to add combined compute and storage resources when you run out of storage. No more expensive hosts needed when all you want is a big storage pool for file shares or homedrives.
Another great use case could be a DR environment where you have your on-premises production environment running VMware and NetApp ONTAP. You do not have to build up a whole VMware Cloud environment with the same amount of hosts and storage capabilities in those hosts (vSAN) but you can simply setup a small environment in the VMware Cloud on AWS and use NetApp SnapMirror technology to replicate your on-premises datastores to the cloud.
This will result in a lower TCO as you do not need to have a whole bunch of hosts with storage running in your DR environment. Simply scale up in case of a disaster, your datastores are ready to go on FSx NetApp ONTAP.