Multiprotocol Access with Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP

Diverse file protocols and systems often introduce complexities into data management due to differing semantics and access mechanisms. This diversity typically results in the creation of data silos and data duplication—all of which come with synchronization issues, additional costs, and other complications—presenting real challenges in the information technology (IT) landscape.

These multiprotocol challenges translate into complicated workarounds that create obstacles to sharing data, increase storage expenses, and add operational overheads.

This post looks at the challenges enterprises face in implementing multiprotocol data access, and shows how they can be solved with Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP, which lets users access all their data regardless of protocol or storage type—all from a single service.

Read on to find out more, or jump ahead with these links:

The multiprotocol data access challenge

In large enterprises, there’s a variety of hardware, systems, applications, and protocols in use to address different needs. For example, some run-on Windows/Server Message Block (SMB); others run on Linux/Network File System (NFS). However, the challenge arises when users share and access files in the same environment. If they all need access to the same data simultaneously, how do you make this work smoothly without dealing with protocol mismatches?

Multiprotocol data access challenges such as these translate into complicated workarounds that are inherently less scalable and introduce performance bottlenecks. These include:

  • Interoperability across protocols. Many organizations need to access data as NFS and SMB file shares, as well as through Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) protocol, and they usually address this problem by employing more than one storage service—one for each protocol in use. That introduces additional overheads, costs, and performance issues, both for the services themselves and for trying to keep all the data in sync.
  • Cross-platform compatibility. To achieve cross-platform compatibility across Windows, Linux, and macOS devices, you need seamless data access, which is easier said than done: File structures, access mechanisms, and data handling have nuances that are unique to each platform, and those nuances need to be addressed.
  • Effective permissions management. Each protocol has its own permission structures. It’s time consuming for administrators to configure and maintain access controls that align with each protocol’s requirements.
  • File system structure and hierarchy. Each protocol has its own way of representing file paths and directory structures, and different protocols might also store metadata (for example, file permissions, timestamps) differently or have variations in their metadata models. These differences can pose challenges when users try to access the same data using multiple protocols.
  • Data duplication and synchronization. When the same file is stored in various formats or locations, running multiple protocols concurrently can lead to data duplication and inconsistencies.

Solving multiprotocol access challenges with FSx for ONTAP

FSx for ONTAP is a fully managed storage service that provides trusted NetApp® data management capabilities as an AWS service.

FSx for ONTAP simplifies multiprotocol data access by allowing different clients to seamlessly access the same dataset in various protocols, operating systems, and storage types. Options include NFS and SMB, as well as NetApp ONTAP® S3-based object storage, a NetApp solution that’s compatible with S3 API, and integrates with S3 applications for files. Regardless of the client’s protocol or operating system (OS), FSx for ONTAP intelligently presents data in the protocol native to each client to provide a consistent and secure experience from a single service.


With FSx for ONTAP, you can integrate Linux and Windows workloads into one service or file system, whether they share common data or not. This kind of consolidation simplifies the IT environment by reducing overhead, streamlining processes, and saving costs.

FSx for ONTAP also makes it simpler and more efficient to migrate multiprotocol workloads to AWS. As a result, enterprises can take advantage of AWS’s robust infrastructure while maintaining their diverse workloads.

How FSx for ONTAP multiprotocol access works

FSx for ONTAP implements multiprotocol data access by using several key techniques:

  • Mounting volumes across protocols. FSx for ONTAP allows you to mount a volume by using both NFS and SMB protocols, and access through ONTAP S3 protocol simultaneously. This multiprotocol access from various operating systems caters to a diverse range of client needs.
  • Setting permissions and security controls. Permissions, access controls, and security parameters are all definable within FSx for ONTAP, helping you maintain security across different protocols and user environments.
  • Keeping data consistent when sharing. FSx for ONTAP has several features that safeguard data that’s shared with simultaneous client access. It preserves consistency by preventing concurrent writes, and file-locking prevents data corruption when multiple clients access and modify the same dataset.
  • File system cache for performance. To enhance performance, FSx for ONTAP employs a file system cache. This cache is particularly effective for frequently accessed data. A key advantage is that this cache is protocol-agnostic. It serves all clients accessing the file system, regardless of their chosen protocol.

How you can benefit from FSx for ONTAP multiprotocol access

Benefits of leveraging FSx for ONTAP for multiprotocol data access include:

  • Enhanced flexibility and efficiency. FSx for ONTAP supports multiprotocol access, including NFS (v3, v4.0, v4.1, and v4.2) and SMB (all versions, including 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1.1), and can cater to Linux, Windows, and macOS clients.
  • Streamlined data management. With multiprotocol access support, changes made through one protocol are instantly accessible through others, reducing operational complexities, data inconsistencies, and storage overhead. This simplifies data management by eliminating complex synchronization between duplicated datasets that serve different clients’ protocols.
  • Native integration with AWS services. To support different workload types, FSx for ONTAP natively integrates with the full range of AWS compute services, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS), AWS for VMware, Amazon WorkSpaces, Amazon CloudWatch, and Amazon AppStream 2.0.
  • No need to refactor applications. With FSx for ONTAP, you don’t need to refactor applications for individual protocols, and you don’t need dedicated hardware or software to access protocol-compatible storage.
  • Easier lift-and-shift migration. Because FSx for ONTAP makes it possible for each protocol to rely on a single dataset rather than multiple versions, lift-and-shift migrations are easier, faster, and less expensive.
  • Reduced storage costs. Enabling concurrent data sharing through multiple protocols also eliminates duplicate datasets. Ultimately, this not only helps streamline data management but also optimizes storage resources and reduces costs. In addition, FSx for ONTAP storage efficiencies and data tiering reduce your overall footprint and costs.
  • Some other notable FSx for ONTAP features:
    • High availability provides uninterrupted access to your data.
    • Data protection with NetApp Snapshot™ copies, backups, and cross-region disaster recovery mechanisms.
    • Storage area network (SAN) block storage accessibility using internet small computer system interface (iSCSI) and NVMe/TCP protocols.

An M&E company solves multiprotocol access for video editing with FSx for ONTAP

This internet giant is a renowned media and entertainment (M&E) company, headquartered in the United States. The company offers web-based services, including a web portal, search engine, and other popular platforms.

The company was looking to establish a live video editing environment, where video streams needed to be edited for social media channels and mobile devices. This required concurrent access to the same video files from one application that used NFS and another that used SMB.

The challenge was to find a storage solution that could support multiprotocol access, deliver high-performance capabilities for video editing, and maintain uptime for business continuity.

The company chose FSx for ONTAP to solve these challenges and gain other important benefits, including:

  • Multiprotocol network attached storage (NAS) support. Because FSx for ONTAP accommodates both NFS and SMB protocols, the company didn’t need to maintain separate storage services. This meant that the company’s graphic artists could access and edit video files on their workstations concurrently regardless of whether they were using NFS on Linux systems or SMB on Windows.
  • High-performance shared file workspace. The high-performance capabilities of FSx for ONTAP translate to rapid data retrieval, efficient handling of large video files, and low latency.
  • High availability with Multi-AZ deployment. The FSx for ONTAP Multi-AZ (Availability Zone) deployment provides an uptime rate of 99.99%. This level of availability is essential for the company, because any downtime or data unavailability during the editing process could result in significant disruptions and delays.

Conclusion: One service, many protocols

Enterprise workloads demand a comprehensive approach to data access that can accommodate diverse protocols and data types. Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP can help.

With FSx for ONTAP, organizations can consolidate their data by bridging the gap between disparate locations and protocols. This means greater efficiency, easier collaboration, and a more reliable single source of truth to fuel your operations.

Don’t let protocols slow you down or double your costs.

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