NetApp’s approach to Data as Fabric

Dave Hitz, the founder of NetApp, quoting William Gibson: The Future is already here, but it’s not very evenly distributed

Another of the very interesting deliveries to the team at Storage Field Day 9 (#SFD9) from the team at NetApp was the conversation we had on AltaVault. The device which can exist as either a physical or virtual appliance, and can also exist as a “Cloud Based Appliance” within Amazon (AWS) or Azure essentially provides a gateway between your environment and your backup environment.

NetApp has voiced the value of “Snapshot as Backup” for as long as I can remember. What they failed to reconcile is how to move those snapshots effectively and efficiently to secondary or even tertiary storage. With AltaVault, this gap in concept has been resolved. AltaVault is touted as a cloud integrated storage device with sizing characteristics based on both throughput and size of destination storage.

Utilizing the new version of OnTap, entitled NetApp Cloud OnTap which can load as a virtual machine, currently only available as an AWS or VMware instance presents a version of OnTap in amazon, and allows for the easy migration of snapshot instances up to AWS. It should be noted that this appears exactly as the same OnTap you’ve used from the array for as long as you’ve had NetApp in your data center. Utilizing the SnapMirror protocol, your data duplicated into the AWS storage environment once the original seeding has been completed is quite rapid.

In addition, there’s a second version of OnTap, called NetApp Private Storage for Cloud, designed for those looking to use private instances. Currently designed to be used in Equinix data centers, it then connects to the three primary providers of cloud storage: AWS, Azure and IBM’s SoftLayer. Again, the key here is to place your private location close to your edge, or data center, hence the use of more regionally based Equinix data centers, with the push, then, eventually out to the big S3 provders.

This is all about their “uniform Data Management, which essentially turns the entire environment: Private to hybrid into a single fabric. The idea of the Fabric as NetApp sees it is that the data and where it lives plus the movement of where you want it.

Then comes the final piece, called AltaVault which is the component providing the inherent connectivity, Deduplication, Compression and cache coherency for your replications. AltaVault integrates with tools such as Veeam, Simpana and others to allow your existing backup environment to push into the cloud world.

It seems clear to me that NetApp has come to a new level of understanding about how their storage environment fits into the world of cloud architecture. There was a huge shift in communication, along with a very refreshing honesty to their presentation, and coupled with the acquisition of Solidfire, a really spectacular tech, NetApp feels to this guy as if it’s poised to re-build their status in the new infrastructure of cloud architectures.

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