NetApp, AWS Partner To Make NetApp Storage Available Through AWS Direct Connect

NetApp on Wednesday unveiled a new relationship with Amazon Web Services that allows customers to establish a dedicated network connection between NetApp storage systems in a co-location center and the Amazon cloud through the AWS Direct Connect service.

The combined solution, called NetApp Private Storage for AWS, was introduced at the Amazon re:Invent partner conference, held this week in Las Vegas.

NetApp customers can arrange for any NetApp FAS-series or V-series storage arrays 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, said Tom Shields, product marketing manager for NetApp.

[Related: AWS' New Gateway-Cached Volumes Brings Primary Storage To Public Clouds ]

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"Customers get high-performance integration between NetApp storage and EC2 and/or S3 using AWS Direct Connect," Shields said. "It's the customer's data, whether it's on NetApp storage or on the Amazon Web Services cloud. AWS Direct Connect allows customers to use their NetApp storage as if it were a part of the Amazon Web Services stack."

AWS Direct Connect allows customers to establish a dedicated network connection between their network and one of the AWS Direct Connect locations.

The dedicated connection can be partitioned into multiple virtual interfaces, allowing it to be used to access public resources such as objects stored in Amazon S3 and private resources such as Amazon EC2 instances running within an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), all while keeping the public and private environments separate, according to Amazon.

Tying NetApp storage with AWS services gives customers the best of both worlds, Shields said.

"Our customers love the flexibility and the time-to-market advantage of the cloud," he said. "But there are concerns about data availability, security and compliance. And, performance is a concern. And, customers are concerned about how data is migrated between public and private clouds."

There are three main areas where customer will benefit from NetApp Private Storage, Shields said.

The first is the ability to leverage the capabilities of the cloud to improve the performance of EC2 instances or reduce the cost of big data or database processing, all while ensuring that the data meets compliance regulations.

NEXT: Use Cases For NetApp Private Storage

The second is to integrate NetApp's data protection tools to data used by applications in the cloud. "NetApp offers its Snap integrated data protection which can be extended to customers using EC2 for cost-effective disaster recovery," NetApp's Shields said. "They can put a small array in an Amazon Web Services co-location center, then use an EC2 instance for disaster recovery. Or, they can extend our disk-to-disk backup to include Amazon S3 for archive tiering."

The third is to dynamically change the use of on-premise and cloud resources. For example, Shields said, customers can develop applications using EC2 and then deploy them on-premise for performance. The NetApp Private Storage will also ease data migration in a merger and acquisition situation and give customers the flexibility of moving data between a public and a private cloud depending on whether it is best dealt with as an operations expense (op-ex) or a capital expense (cap-ex), he said.

"We're discovering new use cases at the show this week," he said. "It's exciting."

It certainly is exciting, said Keith Norbie, vice president of Nexus, the Minnetonka, Minn., office of Stratos Management Systems, an Atlanta-based solution provider and NetApp partner.

"This is where the cloud game is afoot," Norbie said. "We're starting to see how to monetize Amazon to be relevant."

The NetApp Private Storage solution could be very important for customers who have invested heavily in NetApp storage and are looking at how to take advantage of public storage clouds, or for those who are migrating storage, Norbie said.

Norbie said he was unaware of any other relationships similar to what NetApp and AWS are doing with the NetApp Private Storage, with the possible exception of Rackspace, which does offer similar capabilities using EMC and NetApp storage. "But, there are limitations in the flexibility of partners in doing business with Rackspace," he said.

On the channel side of NetApp Private Storage, NetApp is partnering with Avnet, a distributor that partners with both NetApp and Amazon Web Services, Shields said. Avnet also partners with Equinix, which maintains Amazon-certified co-location facilities in six of Amazon's eight geographies worldwide.

There is a three-step ordering process involved. First, the customer places the order with the solution provider. The solution provider then contacts Avnet to coordinate with AWS to order the EC2 instances and the AWS Direct Connect, with Equinix to access the co-location space and with NetApp on the storage solution. Shields said that NetApp expects other distributors to be part of the program in the future.