Today, traditional Disk-to-Disk (D2D) data backups are giving way to hybrid disk/cloud backups; sometime referred to as Disk-to-Disk-to-Cloud, or D2D2C. In NetApp’s case, D2D2C takes the form of the AltaVault Cloud Integrated Backup Appliance, where traditional enterprise backup software sends backup data locally to the AltaVault appliance, which in turn vaults backup sets into a public or private cloud. The advantage of this hybrid backup approach is that it leverages the speed of local disk/cache with the cost efficiencies of cloud storage. This blog discusses the importance of a data fabric when considering a hybrid disk/cloud backup approach.


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How It Works – NetApp AltaVault Cloud Backup Appliance


As shown in the above diagram, data is ingested into NetApp AltaVault appliances using a traditional enterprise backup software product. Using multiple gigabit Ethernet or 10gbE fiber connections, data is in-line deduplicated, compressed, and encrypted before it is written to local cache and asynchronously transferred via secure SSL/TLS connections to a public or private cloud storage provider.


The AltaVault appliance cache serves as a temporary data storage location for recent backup data, and is the primary source of recovery when backup data is retrieved. Evicted data segments continue to exist as cloud-only copies within the public or private cloud, and the backup application continues to see all data segments as if they were local to the appliance. Since data is evicted from the cache using a least recently used (LRU) algorithm, the most recent backups are always available for restore directly from the appliance.


As shown on the table below, the AltaVault appliance supports a wide variety of enterprise backup software products. In addition, the appliance supports database backups accomplished using Microsoft and Oracle native database backup commands.


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For cloud backup destinations, the AltaVault operates in conjunction with a wide variety of public cloud storage providers as well as select private cloud storage configurations, including NetApp’s own StorageGrid object storage repository.


Integrating the Data Fabric into Cloud Backups


The data fabric plays an integral role in the operation of AltaVault. By supporting numerous public and private cloud end points, the appliance operates within a data fabric that allows backups to be configured, migrated, and reconfigured throughout this flexible fabric of cloud providers.


With the AltaVault appliance and data fabric, cloud backup destinations can be changed quickly and transparently whenever business requirements dictate that data should be migrated to a new cloud – for example, migrating backup sets between public clouds or from public cloud to private object-based cloud storage.


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During the cloud migration process, AltaVault acts as a seamless data replicator. As data flows from the existing cloud, through the appliance, and then on to the new cloud, the appliance does not reprocess the data. Therefore, no data is evicted from cache during the migration process; the data simply flows through the networking components of the appliance. AltaVault also continues to accept data from backup applications, with no interruption to backup schedules occurring during the migration process. When the cloud migration process completes, AltaVault automatically updates its cloud storage provider credentials to the new provider and resumes transfer of any pending data that was queued on the appliance during the migration process.




There are many valid reasons for changing the destination point of cloud backup data, including cost savings, provider reliability, or even the demise of an entire existing cloud. Coupling a hybrid cloud backup strategy with a broad data fabric and transparent cloud migration helps insure that you can quickly adapt in the event of any change in data backup infrastructure.

Larry Freeman