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High Performance File Storage with NetApp Cloud Volumes

By Craig Medland

itopia CAS now integrates with NetApp Cloud Volumes Service (CVS) 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.

About Cloud Volumes

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

CVS Performance Tiers

CVS 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

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

CVS Uptime & Support

The vast majority of SMB user computing is based on Windows. Windows is on the rise on the Google Cloud, with a recent GCP blog touting that over half of the recent workload migrations were Windows. Google is laser focused on making Google Cloud the best place to run any application, including Windows.

VPC Peering

NetApp CVS 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: GCP Marketplace Subscription

Before a CVS 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 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 is only available during deployment provisioning. Our Product Roadmap includes a future task to allow post-deployment configuration of NetApp CVS.

CVS Snapshots and Data Restoration

CVS supports manual and scheduled snapshots, with support for file-level restoration. CVS 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 does not support volume-level replication at this time; however, this functionality may be added at a future date.

 

Optimal User Experience: NetApp CVS + FSLogix Profile Containers

When an itopia CAS deployment is provisioned with both a NetApp CVS 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.


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.

At this time, it is not supported to create an itopia CAS deployment using both NetApp CVS and Google Managed AD. Other Active Directory types are fully supported.

Tags: Product Updates, VDI & DaaS on GCP