How ONTAP leads the industry in mobility, cloning, backup, DR & business continuity technology

Categories: Cloud, Data Centre

Snapshot and replication technology are key to any modern data strategy, whether it’s for data mobility, cloning operations, backup and recovery, disaster recovery or business continuity, therefore organisations need a mature and flexible solution that works across on-premises and cloud infrastructures. Let’s explore the industry leading technologies that are built into NetApp ONTAP:

Snapshots for backups, restores and clones


ONTAP has always had cutting edge snapshot capabilities with its pioneering use of Redirect-on-Write technology which allows space efficient copies to be made at any time increment in less than a second, with no performance impact, no matter how many copies are taken, its ability to maintain 1,023 snapshots per volume, to selectively replicate the snapshots and its application-aware snapshot management features.


SnapRestore can restore from a snapshot at any level of granularity, single files, LUNs or entire volumes, instantly no matter the amount of data that needs to be restored. Having the ability to take snapshot backups every few minutes and instantly restore the data from a specific point-in-time is an essential capability for modern data management, a great example being when you need to recover from a ransomware attack with minimal data loss and downtime.


The FlexClone process quickly creates a space-efficient clone from a read-only point-in-time snapshot by making it writable, the clones have many use cases including development and testing, disaster recovery testing, and many other business intelligence functions.

Replication for data mobility, offsite backups, disaster recovery and business continuity


SnapMirror asynchronous IP replication significantly reduces bandwidth by only replicating new, deduplicated, compressed and compacted 4K blocks. It can replicate every 5 minutes, maintain the target snapshot history either matching the source or with a different schedule and you can create a single repository for the disaster recovery and backup copies – data that would normally be sent twice is now only sent once.

The failover and failback processes are managed by System Manager, CLI, REST API or a 3rd party application such as VMware Site Recovery Manager, and should the most up to date copy become unusable you can failover to an earlier point-in-time.

You can implement many-to-one, one-to-many, and cascading configurations including a combination of synchronous and asynchronous replication, intelligently resynchronise when recovering from a broken mirror or loss of synchronisation and by using FlexClones you can co-locate your disaster recovery, and development and testing at your remote site.

SnapMirror for Storage Virtual Machine Disaster Recovery (SVM-DR)

SVM-DR, which utilises SnapMirror as its underlying technology, eliminates failover complexity and enhances ease of management by protecting the namespace, not just the volumes/LUNs. Every SVM can be assigned a policy, any changes to the primary are automatically made on the secondary – creating new volumes/LUNs, snapshot copies or volume/LUN relocations.

SnapMirror Cloud

SnapMirror Cloud provides a quick and efficient mechanism to create backups of snapshots to object storage, by utilising a snapshot based difference engine, a native direct data mover and by only sending changed blocks, incrementally forever – ultimately allowing you to eliminate tape from your infrastructure.

It can retain up to 4,000 space-efficient snapshots per volume, it maintains storage efficiency savings, ONTAP format and metadata, and it requires an authorised backup application for orchestration, such as NetApp Cloud Backup Service or ProLion RestoreManager.

SnapMirror Cloud provides a far more efficient way to get your backup data to the cloud compared to an external backup application.

SnapMirror Synchronous (SM-S)

SM-S is similar to SnapMirror, except it provides zero data loss protection (i.e. the source and target are kept in lock step). There are two modes of operation: Sync (allows I/O to continue if the secondary storage becomes unavailable) and Strict Sync (stops I/O if the secondary storage becomes unavailable to guarantee zero data loss).

SnapMirror Business Continuity (SM-BC)

SM-BC, which utilises SM-S as its underlying technology, provides continuous application availability across sites. LUNs can be enabled for automated transparent application failover (TAF) which allows for active/active read/write access at both sites and a mediator, deployed in a separate failure domain, automates failover and resolves split-brain issues. AFF and All SAN Array (ASA) are supported along with Windows and Linux hosts, and VMware Metro Storage Clusters.


MetroCluster provides zero data loss and automated transparent failover much like SM-BC, with the key differences being its support for both SAN and NAS protocols, zero change management across sites, cluster level failover, the requirement for identical hardware at each site, and replication available over IP and FC.

Application-aware management

SnapCenter provides application-aware data protection and clone management for ONTAP based systems with support for VMware vSphere, Microsoft Windows file system, Oracle Database, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, SAP HANA, IBM DB2, Sybase, MySQL, SAP MaxDB, SAP ASE, MongoDB and PostgreSQL.

From an easy-to-use, centralised GUI backup jobs can be scheduled and data can be rapidly cloned and restored, including using log replays to recover databases to a specific point-in-time. Commvault and Veeam can also provide similar application-aware management alongside their traditional data protection capabilities.

Supported platforms

Because of the flexibility of ONTAP, it can be deployed as an all-flash or hybrid-flash array, as a software-defined solution on VMware using ONTAP Select, in the cloud on AWS, Azure and GCP using Cloud Volumes ONTAP, it’s possible to use SnapMirror to replicate data between any of the supported platforms providing a powerful data management solution – it’s even possible to use SnapMirror to replicate between ONTAP and NetApp HCI.


To minimise data loss and recovery times you need to make snapshots a key part of your data protection strategy and no operating system does snapshots better than ONTAP, in addition it’s also ideally suited to meet all of your data mobility, cloning, disaster recovery and business continuity requirements across virtual, cloud and physical environments.

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