NetApp Reaches For Hybrid Cloud Via New Storage OS, Partners, Services

NetApp is expanding its reach into the cloud with new software and services and a few new partners to help tie its Clustered Data ONTAP operating system to the way it expects customers and partners to work with the cloud.

NetApp on Tuesday will use its NetApp Insight conference, being held this week in Las Vegas, to unveil a new version of the NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP storage operating system that brings back metro clustering capabilities and increases flash storage performance and storage cost efficiency.

The company is also introducing the ability to use ONTAP technology for managing clouds, IBM SoftLayer as a cloud partner for NetApp storage, improved management of data between on-premises and cloud environments and new services to help customers take advantage of the cloud.

[Related: NetApp Buys Riverbed's SteelStore Storage Line For $80M]

Hybrid clouds provide increased access to and scalability for data, said George Kurian, executive vice president of product operations for NetApp.

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"But you need to architect it right and deliver it right to fulfill the promise of the hybrid cloud," Kurian said at a Monday press conference.

Data is at the center of the hybrid cloud," Kurian said. "It is the thing to be shared between an on-premises environment and an off-premises environment. ... Data has unique value at the center of the cloud. Unfortunately, the industry has failed at delivering data from the hybrid cloud."

NetApp wants to overcome that failure with technology to help bridge multiple clouds and on-premises storage infrastructures.

Towards that end, NetApp this week is introducing Clustered Data ONTAP version 8.3, the newest version of what the company calls the most widely used storage operating system in the world.

The biggest change to Clustered Data ONTAP is the addition of NetApp MetroCluster Disaster Recovery software that provides uninterrupted recovery from failures across multiple data centers, said John Frederiksen, vice president of NetApp's Data ONTAP group.

Frederiksen said during NetApp's Monday press conference that the MetroCluster capability allows synchronous replication across up to four data centers so that if one fails, the data remains available.

"This is critical for prevention of data loss and downtime," he said.

Clustered Data ONTAP 8.3 also scales data capacity to over 100 petabytes and allows the addition of up to 1.7 petabytes of flash storage per cluster, Frederiksen said. It also reduces the cost-per-gigabyte of capacity at the entry level by about 30 percent and the cost of flash modules by about 17 percent compared to the previous version of the operating system, he said.

NEXT: Cloud ONTAP, NetApp Private Storage, Other News

Clustered Data ONTAP 8.3 runs in existing VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, OpenStack and OracleVM environments to allow seamless movement of data between them.

New this week from NetApp is Cloud ONTAP, a version of its Clustered Data ONTAP, which creates a virtualized instance of that storage operating system for use in Amazon Web Services clouds.

Phil Brotherton, vice president of cloud solutions at NetApp, said Cloud ONTAP brings all the management capabilities of Data ONTAP to work in public clouds.

"This brings the number one storage operating system in the world to the cloud and makes it run the way you want it to run on the world's biggest public cloud," Brotherton said. "This is a big new step for NetApp. This is not a baby step. This is a full-on move to the hybrid cloud."

NetApp expects Cloud ONTAP to eventually work with other cloud environments. The company is offering a variety of both cloud-focused and traditional data center licensing options.

Also new this week is OnCommand Cloud Manager, which NetApp described as a simple ways to provision and manage Clustered Data ONTAP instances between private cloud and public cloud providers.

NetApp also expanded its NetApp Private Storage for Cloud family via integration with the IBM SoftLayer cloud. With NetApp Private Cloud Storage, customers can keep data on their own NetApp storage appliances while taking advantage of the scalability of different public clouds by placing their appliances in select colocation facilities.

NetApp nearly two years ago unveiled NetApp Private Storage for AWS, which allowed any NetApp storage solution to be sited in an Amazon-certified co-location center and connected via AWS Direct Connect to make those arrays' capacity available for use with AWS services

NetApp in July extended that capability directly to the Microsoft Azure public cloud as part of a seamless hybrid cloud environment using the Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute technology that allows for the creation of private connections between Azure data centers and customers' own IT infrastructure, either on premises or via a colocation provider.

NetApp has tested cloud connectivity with several Equinix and other colocation facilities around the world.

Finally, NetApp unveiled new services to help customers more easily migrate their workloads to the cloud, Brotherton said.

These services include the Enterprise Transformation Workshop for Cloud to help architect a cloud storage strategy for hybrid clouds. There's also the Efficiency and Optimization Service to provide storage-level health monitoring to find potential transition and performance issues.

NEXT: NetApp, Hybrid Clouds And The Channel

NetApp's move to better embrace hybrid clouds presents multiple opportunities for the company's channel partners, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems (IAS), a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and long-time NetApp channel partner.

Cloud ONTAP lets partners work with customers to deploy initial instances of ONTAP Amazon, and gives them an "hourly meter" kind of service, Woodall told CRN.

However, the real opportunities come from NetApp Private Storage, or what Woodall called "NPS."

"Regardless of which cloud provider you work with, NPS is definitely a meet-in-the-channel strategy for NetApp and Equinix," he said. "It's a natural opportunity for the channel. It includes hardware, software and services components needed to get filers in Equinix."

Over time, NetApp Private Storage is a more profitable opportunity than Cloud ONTAP, Woodall said.

"Cloud ONTAP is easier and can be found through the AWS market," he said. "But it's not cost effective at scale. NPS is a better solution at scale."

Thomas Stanley, senior vice president of global partner sales and alliances at NetApp, told CRN that the channel is a big part of NetApp's hybrid cloud strategy.

NetApp Private Storage, for instance, takes advantage of the compute capabilities of NetApp's cloud partners.

"But on premises, people still need implementation skills for customer environments and partners to deliver it," he said. "We don't put it in writing, but we want partners to be involved with NetApp Private Storage. We've done workshops around the world on the channel and cloud strategies."