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TR-4939: FlexPod Hybrid Cloud for Google Cloud Platform with NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP and Cisco Intersight


Ruchika Lahoti, NetApp


Protecting data with disaster recovery (DR) is a critical goal for businesses continuity. DR allows organizations to failover their business operations to a secondary location and later recover and failback to the primary site efficiently and reliably. Multiple concerns like natural disaster, network failures, software vulnerabilities, and human error make developing a DR strategy a top IT priority.

For DR, all workloads running on the primary site must be faithfully reproduced on the DR site. An organization must also have an up-to-date copy of all enterprise data, including database, file services, NFS and iSCSI storage, and so on. Because data in the production environment is constantly updated, changes must be transferred to the DR site on a regular basis.

Deploying DR environments is challenging for most organizations because of the requirement for infrastructure and site independence. The number of resources needed and the costs of setting up, testing, and maintaining a secondary data center can be very high, typically approaching the cost of the entire production environment. It is challenging to keep a minimal data footprint with adequate protection, while continuously synchronizing data and establishing seamless failover and failback. After building out the DR site, the challenge then becomes to replicate data from the production environment and to keep it synchronized going forward.

This technical report brings together the FlexPod converged infrastructure solution, NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP on Google Cloud, and Cisco Intersight to form a hybrid cloud data center for DR. In this solution we discuss designing and executing an on-premises ONTAP workflow using Cisco Intersight Cloud Orchestrator. We also discuss deploying NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP and orchestrating and automating data replication and DR between FlexPod and Cloud Volumes ONTAP using the Cisco Intersight Service for HashiCorp Terraform.

The following figure provide a solution overview.

Solution overview.

This solution provides multiple advantages, including:

  • Orchestration and automation. Cisco Intersight simplifies the day-to-day operations of FlexPod hybrid cloud infrastructure by providing consistent orchestration frameworks that are delivered via automation.

  • Customized Protection. Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides block-level data replication from ONTAP to the cloud that keeps the destination up to date through incremental updates. Users can specify a synchronization schedule of every 5 minutes or every hour, for example, based on changes at the source that are transferred over.

  • Seamless failover and failback. When a disaster occurs, storage administrators can quickly failover to the cloud volumes. When the primary site is recovered, the new data created in the DR environment is synchronized back to the source volumes, re-establishing secondary data replication.

  • Efficiency: The storage space and costs for the secondary cloud copy are optimized through the use of data compression, thin provisioning, and deduplication. Data is transferred at the block-level in a compressed and deduplicated form, improving transfer speed. Data is also automatically tiered to low-cost object storage and only brought back to high-performance storage when accessed, such as in a DR scenario. This significantly reduces ongoing storage costs.

  • Increased IT productivity. Using Intersight as the single secure, enterprise-grade platform for infrastructure and application lifecycle management simplifies configuration management and automation of manual tasks at scale for the solution.


The audience for this document includes, but is not limited to; sales engineers, field consultants, professional services, IT managers, partner engineers, site reliability engineers, cloud architects, cloud engineers, and customers who want to take advantage of an infrastructure built to deliver IT efficiency and enable IT innovation.

Solution topology

This section describes the logical topology of the solution. The following figure represents the solution topology of the on-premises FlexPod environment, NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP running on Google Cloud, Cisco Intersight, and NetApp Cloud Manager.

Solution topology.

The control planes and data planes are clearly indicated between the endpoints. The data plane uses a secure site-to-site VPN connection to connect the ONTAP instance running on FlexPod All Flash FAS to the NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP instance on Google Cloud.

The replication of workload data from FlexPod to NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP is handled by NetApp SnapMirror, and the overall process is orchestrated using Cisco Intersight Cloud Orchestrator for both the on-premises and cloud environments. Cisco Intersight Cloud Orchestrator consumes Terraform Resource Providers for NetApp Cloud Manager to carry out operations related to NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP deployment and establish data replication relationships.

Note The optional backup and tiering of cold data residing in the NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP instance to Google Cloud Storage is also supported with this solution.