How Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP works - FSx for ONTAP
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How Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP works

This topic introduces the major features of Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP file systems and how they work, with links to sections with in-depth descriptions, important implementation details, and step-by-step configuration procedures.

FSx for ONTAP file systems

A file system is the primary FSx for ONTAP resource, analogous to an on-premises NetApp ONTAP cluster. You specify the solid state drive (SSD) storage capacity and throughput capacity for your file system, and choose an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) where your file system is created. For more information, see Managing FSx for ONTAP file systems.

Your file system can have one to 12 high-availability (HA) pairs depending on its configuration. An HA pair is made up of two file servers in an active-standby configuration. File systems with a single HA pair are called scale-up file systems. File systems with multiple HA pairs are called scale-out file systems. For more information, see High-availability (HA) pairs.

Storage virtual machines

A storage virtual machine (SVM) is an isolated file server with its own administrative and data access endpoints for administering and accessing data. When you access data in your FSx for ONTAP file system, your clients and workstations interface with an SVM using the SVM's endpoint IP address. For more information, see Managing SVMs.

You can join SVMs to a Microsoft Active Directory for file access authentication and authorization. For more information, see Working with Microsoft Active Directory in FSx for ONTAP.


FSx for ONTAP volumes are virtual resources that you use for organizing and grouping your data. Volumes are logical containers that are hosted on SVMs, and data stored in them consumes physical storage capacity on your file system.

When you create a volume, you set its size, which determines the amount of physical data that you can store in it, regardless of which storage tier the data is stored on. You also set the volume type, either RW (read-writable) or DP (data protection). A DP volume is read-only and can be used as the destination in a NetApp SnapMirror or SnapVault relationship.

FSx for ONTAP volumes are thin provisioned, meaning that they only consume storage capacity for the data stored in them. With thin-provisioned volumes, storage capacity is not reserved in advance. Instead, storage is allocated dynamically, as it is needed. Free space is released back to the file system when data in the volume or LUN is deleted. For example, you can create three 10 TiB volumes on a file system configured with 10 TiB of free storage capacity, as long as the total amount of data stored in the three volumes doesn't exceed 10 TiB at any time. The amount of data physically stored on a volume counts toward your overall storage capacity consumption. For more information, see Managing FSx for ONTAP volumes.

Storage tiers

An FSx for ONTAP file system has two storage tiers: primary storage and capacity pool storage. Primary storage is provisioned, scalable, high-performance SSD storage that’s purpose-built for the active portion of your data set. Capacity pool storage is a fully elastic storage tier that can scale to petabytes in size and is cost optimized for infrequently accessed data. Data that you write to your volumes consumes capacity on your storage tiers. For more information, see FSx for ONTAP storage tiers.

Data tiering

Data tiering is the process by which Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP automatically moves data between the SSD and the capacity pool storage tiers. Each volume has a tiering policy that controls whether data is moved to the capacity tier when it becomes inactive (cold). A volume's Tiering policy cooling period determines when data becomes inactive (cold). For more information, see Volume data tiering.

Storage efficiency

Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP supports ONTAP’s block-level storage efficiency features—compaction, compression, and deduplication—to reduce the storage capacity that your data consumes. Storage efficiency features can reduce the footprint of your data in SSD storage, capacity pool storage, and backups. The typical storage capacity savings for general purpose file sharing workloads without sacrificing performance is 65% from compression, deduplication, and compaction, on both the SSD and capacity pool storage tiers. For more information, see FSx for ONTAP storage efficiency.

Accessing data stored on FSx for ONTAP file systems

You can access your data on FSx for ONTAP volumes from multiple Linux, Windows, or macOS clients simultaneously over the NFS (v3, v4, v4.1, v4.2) and SMB protocols. You can also access data using the iSCSI (block) protocol. For more information, see Accessing data.

Managing FSx for ONTAP resources

There are several ways that you can interact with your FSx for ONTAP file system and manage its resources. You can manage your FSx for ONTAP resources using both Amazon and NetApp ONTAP management tools:

  • Amazon management tools

    • The Amazon Web Services Management Console

    • The Amazon Command Line Interface (Amazon CLI)

    • The Amazon FSx API and SDKs

    • Amazon CloudFormation

  • NetApp management tools:

    • NetApp BlueXP

    • The NetApp ONTAP CLI

    • The NetApp ONTAP REST API

For more information, see Administering resources.