NetApp Extends Storage Management To The Cloud

The changes to the NetApp OnCommand Management software include features which help customers move their storage from virtualized computing environments to cloud environments, and extend management of the storage infrastructure to third-party cloud-based applications, said Chris Cummings, vice president of product and solutions marketing for the vendor.

"What we're trying to do with this launch is to push NetApp as the optimal storage for cloud environments, bar none," Cummings said.

The integration of NetApp's storage management software with a wide range of cloud providers' offerings is showing that the vendor is ready for the cloud, and not just VMware virtualized environments, said Keith Norbie, vice president of sales at Nexus Information Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based solution provider and NetApp partner.

NetApp is also making that transition to the cloud in a very measured fashion which matches customers' and solution providers' own pace, Norbie said.

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"The more you can show how to move a couple inches forward towards the cloud, the better," he said. "Customers are not just jumping into the cloud."

Norbie said he appreciates NetApp's partner-based approach to cloud computing instead of focusing exclusively on how to bring its FlexPod architecture

FlexPod is a pre-sized, validated, and standardized data center architecture aimed at helping solution providers build flexible storage solutions using NetApp storage, Cisco networking, and VMware virtualization technology to help customers transition to cloud computing.

"Instead, they have a diversified offering to match how customers approach the clouds," he said. "If you want to get elastic for the cloud, which muscles do you start flexing?"

To help with that transition, NetApp introduced the OnCommand unified manager. Cummings said this brings several previously-separate functions together into OnCommand, including NetApp's Provision Manager software, which provides automated provisioning of new services, and Protection Manager, which provides policy-based automated data protection capabilities.

"We want to bring simplicity to managing NetApp storage via a single plane of glass," he said.

NetApp also introduced a new capability, OnCommand Insight Balance, based on technology it received with its January acquisition of Akorri, whose flagship product, BalancePoint, was a virtual infrastructure management software that provides analysis across virtualization layers and technology silos for virtual and physical server and storage infrastructures.

NetApp also updated its OnCommand Insight Assure, Plan, Perform software to ease the optimization and planning of storage services.

Together, the two work to help extend OnCommand's management capabilities beyond NetApp storage, Cummings said.

"So instead of just managing NetApp storage, they now look at networking and virtualization, at the performance issues of individual machines, at the performance and capacities set for individual departments," he said.

NetApp is also moving to integrate OnCommand into the management platforms of the industry's top vendors, Cummings said. It previously worked under BMC's framework, but going forward will also integrated with CA, IBM Tivoli, VMware's vSphere, Microsoft's System Center, and Cisco's recent NewScale acquisition.

"Now if an administrator is using any of these management platforms, they can monitor and provision NetApp storage," he said.

NetApp is also introducing its first pre-validated solutions for is FlexPod architecture specifically for such applications as SAP, Citrix XenDesktop desktop virtualization, VMware View desktop virtualization, and Microsoft applications, Cummings said.

It is also working with Microsoft to develop a Microsoft FastTrack solution for cloud computing which includes FlexPod, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Cisco UCS, he said.