File Storage Using NetApp Cloud Volumes

High-performance, scalable file storage for itopia CAS

Craig Medland avatar
Written by Craig Medland
Updated over a week ago

itopia CAS now integrates with NetApp Cloud Volumes Service Performance (CVS-Performance) to provide consumers with high-performance, highly-scalable data storage without IT admins needing to worry about infrastructure upkeep burdens such as server patching and resource scaling.

Note: NetApp also offers Cloud Volumes ONTAP (CVO), but this isn't yet integrated into WorkAnywhere. What's the difference? See NetApp's website for details, but to summarize, CVO is a virtual OnTap instance that runs in the cloud, while CVS-P is a file service that NetApp manages.

About Cloud Volumes

NetApp CVS-Performance is a third-party solution that offers integration with Google Cloud. itopia CAS integrated with CVS-Performance offers SMB-based file shares, with SMB shares supporting Active Directory integration for full Access Control List-based permissions.

CVS-Performance Tiers

CVS-Performance supports volumes between 1TB and 100TB, with three performance tiers:

  • Standard:  Up to 4,000 IOPS and 16MB/s throughput per TB of storage. $0.10** per GB

  • Premium:  Up to 16,000 IOPS and 64MB/s throughput per TB of storage. $0.20** per GB

  • Extreme: Up to 32,000 IOPS and 128MB/s throughput per TB of storage. $0.30** per GB

**Please check NetApp website for most current pricing.

Based on feedback and internal testing, the Standard tier should provide adequate performance for RDS user profiles (FSLogix Profile Containers), even when accessed from a GCP region on the other side of the United States.  For larger deployments (greater than 100 users), the Premium tier may be a better option. Performance tiers can be modified from within the GCP console; for most customers, we recommend starting with a lower tier and scaling up as necessary.

CVS-Performance Availability by GCP Region

As of April 2020, NetApp CVS is provided in six GCP regions:

  • us-west2

  • us-central1

  • us-east4

  • europe-west2

  • europe-west3

  • australia-southeast1

Although CVS-Performance is not available in all GCP regions, internal itopia testing has found that cross-region access generally offers adequate performance for regions with geographical proximity, thanks to Google's class-leading fiber-optic network.

Our testing was conducted by provisioning CVS-Performance volumes in the us-east1 region and accessing them from VMs in the us-west1 region. Although we observed a measurable increase in latency and a slight decrease in throughput, cross-region volumes in this scenario still provided acceptable performance for FSLogix Profile Containers and light-duty file share access. Results will vary with different regions.

In itopia CAS,  if the deployment contains regions that do not support CVS-Performance, CAS uses a geo-map to determine the nearest region in which to deploy the CVS-Performance volumes. However, if you are deploying an itopia CAS solution into a region that does not provide CVS-Performance volumes, it is strongly recommended to test CVS-Performance from your specific region to the next-nearest region that provides CVS-Performance volumes. You may also contact itopia for guidance.

CVS-Performance Uptime & Support

While NetApp CVS-Performance has 99.9% uptime, there's no current SLAs at the advertised values. For support, customers log a case with Google Cloud who then coordinate directly with NetApp.

NetApp Cloud Volumes Service-Performance is a third-party solution provided through Google Marketplace; itopia CAS integrates with CVS-Performance but does not offer support.

VPC Peering

NetApp CVS-Performance relies on VPC peering in GCP for accessing the volumes; therefore, Cloud Volumes can be accessed from any region, provided that the VPC networks are correctly configured.

Deploying CVS-Performance:  GCP Marketplace Subscription

Before a CVS-Performance can be deployed into an itopia CAS deployment, the customer must purchase the NetApp Cloud Volumes Services API in the GCP Marketplace.  

The initial purchase of the Cloud Volumes API is a manual process, with no programmatic method of completing the purchase (known limitation of Google Cloud's Terms of Use). The GCP project administrator must navigate to the Cloud Volumes API entry in GCP Marketplace, click Purchase, and accept the NetApp Terms and Conditions.

Note:  There is no cost associated with the purchase; this purchase only enables NetApp to bill against the GCP project based on usage. The Administrator must have Billing Account Admin permissions.

CVS-Performance Integration:  itopia CAS Deployment Wizard

When provisioning your new itopia CAS Deployment, customers will now have the option to select 'NetApp Cloud Volume Services'.    The File Share section is located near the bottom of the Deployment Configuration screen in the Create Deployment Wizard. 

Once the deployment is complete, customers can edit Cloud Volumes to increase storage size, change Performance Tier, and configure snapshots.

Note: The option to integrate CVS-Performance is only available during deployment provisioning. Our Product Roadmap includes a future task to allow post-deployment configuration of NetApp CVS.

CVS-Performance Snapshots and Data Restoration

CVS-Performance supports manual and scheduled snapshots, with support for file-level restoration. CVS-Performance snapshots leverage Volume Shadow Copies (VSS), allowing file-, folder-, and volume-level restores from the object's Properties tab within Windows, accessible by right-clicking the object. This is called self-recovery and can be done by the end-user (provided that they have read-write permissions to the file/folder).

Note:  CVS-Performance does not support volume-level replication at this time; however, this functionality may be added at a future date.

Optimal User Experience:  NetApp CVS-Performance + FSLogix Profile Containers

When an itopia CAS deployment is provisioned with both a NetApp CVS-Performance and FSLogix Profile Contains, customers are able to store both (i) data and (ii) Profile Containers (VHDX files).   This combination optimizes the end-user  experience because they'll see their files and folders on a consistent, personalized Cloud Desktop no matter which GCP Region their connecting into for their Deployment.

Known Issues with NetApp CVS-Performance Integration

This section describes current known issues and limitations when using NetApp Cloud Volumes Service in a CAS RDS deployment. This section will be updated as issues are remediated.

NetApp CVS and Google Managed Service for Microsoft  Active Directory Service (Managed AD)

While configuring a new deployment, itopia CAS' allows customers to choose different options for Active Directory type and File Storage option. Currently, there is an API-level incompatibility between NetApp CVS and Google Managed Service for Microsoft Active Directory; this is due to a limitation in GCP functionality.

To resolve this incompatibility, CAS deployments that use both NetApp CVS and Google Managed AD will include the following additional components:

  • Two small "router" VM instances configured to perform network packet forwarding

  • Two custom routes to instruct each service (CVS and Managed AD) to use the router VMs as their "next-hop" when attempting to communicate with the other service

  • An additional firewall rule to facilitate the necessary traffic between the services and the router VMs

These additional router VMs incur a small compute cost but otherwise do not affect performance or functionality of the environment. Additional information is available in the itopia Documentation Portal.

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