AWS Partner Network (APN) Blog

Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP Integration with VMware Cloud on AWS

By Kiran Reid, Sr. Partner Solutions Architect – AWS
By Siegfried Eigler, Sr. Specialist Solutions Architect – AWS
By Ziv Klempner, Sr. Specialist Solutions Architect – AWS
By Pat Brandel, Sr. Product Manager – AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and VMware recently announced the general availability of Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP to use for VMware Cloud on AWS.

Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP (FSx for ONTAP) is a native AWS managed service powered by NetApp ONTAP software and available around the world. This integration makes it easy and cost effective for a software-defined data center (SDDC) to be scaled with additional storage capacity through Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP.

This post will help you decide if using Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP as a customer-managed Network File System (NFS) datastore within VMware Cloud on AWS is suitable for you.

VMware Cloud on AWS enables customers to deploy VMware’s software-defined data centers (SDDCs) and consume vSphere workloads on AWS global infrastructure as a managed service. Jointly engineered by VMware and AWS, VMware Cloud on AWS brings a true hybrid cloud experience to customers.


One of the challenges VMware Cloud on AWS customers face is how to manage storage and compute independently. Our customers have highlighted their need for scalable, elastic storage to support the range of storage-intensive workloads.

Another challenge is operations. Many organizations are deploying both traditional and modern apps across a diverse infrastructure landscape that spans data centers, private and public clouds, and edge environments, and they want a consistent way to manage them.

Datastores for VMware Cloud on AWS with FSx for ONTAP

AWS and VMware are solving these challenges by implementing supplemental datastore support into VMware Cloud on AWS. With this announcement, customers now have the flexibility to add customer-managed datastores to their existing SDDCs over the NFS protocol, giving them an elastic storage solution to support their growing workload needs. Customer managed refers to any external datastore connected to the SDDC and not directly managed by VMware.

Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP is a storage service that allows customers to launch and run fully managed ONTAP file systems in the cloud. NetApp is an AWS Storage Competency Partner and ONTAP is NetApp’s file system technology that provides a widely adopted set of data access and data management capabilities. It provides the familiar features, performance, and APIs of on-premises NetApp file systems with the agility, scalability, and simplicity of a fully-managed AWS service.

With FSx for ONTAP storage virtual machines (SVM), each SVM is an isolated file server with dedicated administrative credentials and IP addresses for accessing data. Each SVM supports multiple storage access protocols (SMB, NFS, iSCSI) and, combined, these capabilities allow a single FSx for ONTAP file system to support multiple customer workloads and or lines of business.

NetApp Software

The entirety of NetApp’s software suite is available for in-guest workloads. Customers connecting to storage from within a guest virtual machine (VM) may continue to rely upon the extended suite of NetApp capabilities. VMware Cloud on AWS does not currently support the use of ONTAP Tools within the SDDC.

Scale-Out Storage

If you’re running into storage constraints or are continually met with unplanned storage demands, this service provides a cost-effective way to incrementally add capacity without purchasing additional hosts. By leveraging elastic network storage provisioned through Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP service, you have the flexibility to add more storage capacity when your workloads require it.

When using FSx for ONTAP as an NFSv3 datastore within VMware Cloud on AWS, the filesystem cannot be deployed within the connected virtual private cloud (VPC) and instead should be provisioned in a new VPC in an existing or new customer account.

At the time of this post, the file system must be deployed in the multi-Availability Zone (AZ) variant. VMware Cloud on AWS does not currently support single-AZ FSx for ONTAP as an NFS datastore.


Figure 1 – Multi-AZ with vTGW deployment.

Data Protection

Depending on your business needs, Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP offers several options for protecting your data. FSx for ONTAP backups can be used to restore entire datastores into your VMware Cloud on AWS SDDCs.

The NetApp SnapMirror feature provides highly available and efficient replication of data copies, including support for multiple AZs and cross-region disaster recovery to protect and test against site outages without disruption. The NetApp FlexClone feature delivers fast, space-efficient copies and fully supports block-level “forever” replication.

Your FSx for ONTAP file system comes configured by default for daily backups of your entire file system using Amazon FSx’s backup system. You can configure and automate additional backups using AWS on a schedule that fits your compliance needs. These backups can be retained based on the unique requirements of your organization.

Support and SLA Considerations

VMware provides service-level agreement (SLA) coverage for any NFS storage that VMware manages. Customers who connect storage not directly managed by VMware are responsible for the availability of any data stored.

In the event of an issue, VMware-led support remains the first point of contact and will make its best effort to resolve the problem. Should the support team verify the problem is not anywhere in the VMware SDDC, VMware will guide the customer through pulling AWS support in to troubleshoot FSx for ONTAP.


Figure 2 – VMware-led support.

When deploying customer-managed NFS datastores, customers are responsible for the following:

  • Configuring and maintaining the storage target for use as a datastore.
  • Configuring and maintaining network connectivity between the storage target and every host within the SDDC.
  • Maintaining free capacity within the datastore.
  • Data protection, configuring, and maintaining backups of the datastores.

Performance and Costs

Customers can decide which access model to use based on their application requirements. Pricing for the Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP solution can be found in the pricing section of the product page.

When creating a file system, you specify its throughput capacity which determines the level of network I/O performance that are supported by the file servers powering your cluster. When you create a file system, Amazon FSx recommends a throughput capacity for you, or you can select from the following throughput capacities: 128, 256, 512, 1024, and 2048 MB/s. For more information, please see the performance documentation user guide.

Customers wishing to use NFS for connectivity should be aware of the additional costs associated when using the VMware Managed Transit Gateway. Please visits the AWS Transit Gateway product page for the most up-to-date information on pricing.


VMware Cloud on AWS NFS datastore support using Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP is a powerful integration. This service provides a cost-effective way to incrementally add capacity without the requirement of scaling and adding additional hosts.

By leveraging elastic network storage provisioned through Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP service, customers have the flexibility to add more storage capacity when workloads require it. Customers that have already moved to FSx for ONTAP are enjoying the benefits of being able to right-size their storage needs within VMware Cloud on AWS.