NetApp Gets Closer To AWS S3

NetApp is making a hybrid cloud play with last week's introduction of a new virtual machine version of its SteelStore cloud-based data protection technology and new support for helping its StorageGrid object storage solution work seamlessly with Amazon Web Services.

These moves, along with improved hybrid cloud functionality in NetApp's legacy software applications, are aimed in part at helping channel partners successfully work in hybrid cloud environments, said Richard Treadway, senior director of cloud solutions for the storage vendor.

"We're helping customers and partners take advantage of the cloud at their own speed," Treadway told CRN.

[Related: NetApp Expects Riverbed's SteelStore To Bring Improved Data Protection]

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NetApp released three new models in the SteelStore family of data protection appliances the company late last year acquired from Riverbed.

SteelStore works by keeping active data stored on the appliance, and then moving data to one of several clouds as it ages while maintaining that data's security and encryption in the cloud. It uses Riverbed's core WAN optimization technology to accelerate cloud data access and protection.

SteelStore supports a range of cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services, Google and Windows Azure, along with a mix of backup and archiving applications.

The new NetApp versions, unlike the previous hardware appliance models previously sold, are the first in the SteelStore line available as an Amazon Machine Image, or AMI, version that will be sold as a software subscription, Treadway said.

With the introduction of the SteelStore AMI virtual appliances, NetApp customers have two ways to connect to the cloud for data protection, Treadway said.

The first is to use the SteelStore hardware appliances, which Treadway said have sold better than expected since the line was acquired by NetApp, to create an on-premise private cloud connected to public cloud storage as an extension. "NetApp is unique in that we are the only storage vendor that is cloud-neutral," he said. "All the others have their own clouds. We support 14 different clouds, and support all the major vendors as a data source for backups."

The second is the SteelStore AMI virtual appliances that sit in the AWS S3 cloud to provide object store archiving via storage software from such third-party vendors as CommVault or Symantec, he said. "This makes them cloud-enabled, highly efficient purpose-built backup appliances," he said.

NEXT: Exploring SteelStore AMI, Other NetApp Cloud Technologies

The SteelStore AMI is a good strategy for NetApp, not only as a solution itself but as an opportunity for customers to test the SteelStore line, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems (IAS), a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime NetApp channel partner.

"It's a great way to try the SteelStore line," Woodall told CRN. "It's a chance for clients to see if it's better to go with NetApp's OnTap solutions directly to the cloud, or to go with a full SteelStore appliance."

Also new from NetApp is StorageGrid Webscale 10.1, the latest version of NetApp’s scalable, software-defined object storage solution.

Treadway said StorageGrid Webscale 10.1 is the first version to fully leverage AWS S3 to provide a cost-effective cloud-based archiving solution. It includes geo-distributed erasure coding to help reduce on-premise cost and increase security. It is available in both hardware appliance and software-delivered versions, he said.

The new StorageGrid fills a big hole in NetApp's storage line by providing an object store solution that speaks natively to AWS S3, Woodall said.

"Solutions from companies like CommVault and Symantec's NetBackup already speak to back-end object stores on a cloud," he said. "It's becoming table stakes for a lot of solutions."

NetApp also unveiled NetApp OnCommand Insight 7.1, the latest version of its storage resource management software with enhanced features for brokering and monitoring hybrid cloud storage and for improving capacity planning.

The company also simplified how subscriptions for its Cloud OnTap and OnCommand Cloud Manager are deployed, Treadway said.