NetApp Rebrands SteelStore As AltaVault, Boosts Cloud Connectivity, Performance

NetApp on Wednesday branded its SteelStore line of WAN acceleration data protection and migration appliances NetApp AltaVault, and refreshed the line with improved performance and capacity on a new hardware platform.

The new NetApp AltaVault, which stems from NetApp's November, 2014 acquisition of the SteelStore technology from Riverbed, keeps as its primary objective the ability to provide a high-performance, easy-to-install way to integrate customers' existing data protection solutions to the cloud, said Phil Brotherton, vice president of NetApp's Cloud Solutions Group.

"AltaVault uses cloud economics while integrating the cloud with on-premise tools, including customers' existing backup hardware and software," Brotherton told CRN.

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Octavian Tanase, vice president of engineering at NetApp, said AltaVault is a good platform for customers with a variety of storage platforms looking to bring data to the cloud.

"AltaVault works with any storage hardware from any competitor," Tanase told CRN. "Just point the existing backup software to the AltaVault, and the data starts moving to the cloud."

This is not NetApp's first update to the SteelStore platform it acquired, Brotherton said. The company previously added capabilities to better integrate the platform with clouds from Google, Amazon and Microsoft.

It is, however, the first time the technology has been married to a common NetApp hardware platform, Brotherton said.

The NetApp AltaVault is available in three formats, including an integrated hardware appliance, a virtual appliance that runs on industry-standard server hardware with either the VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor, or as an appliance on a public cloud, he said.

The hardware appliance, which offers the best performance, now runs on the same hardware as NetApp's FAS8000 storage solution, Brotherton said.

"This puts AltaVault into the NetApp support model in a way we didn't do before," he said. "Phone support, spares, and so on, are now on the same platform."

While the NetApp AltaVault now shares the same hardware as the FAS8000, however, the two solutions remain separate, Brotherton said. "We do not support the combination of both solutions on the same hardware," he said.

The NetApp AltaVault software also was enhanced with the addition of Microsoft Hyper-V support. SteelStore had been focused on the VMware hypervisor, he said.

NetApp also doubled the performance and capacity of AltaVault vs. SteelStore, he said.

SteelStore was a good acquisition for NetApp, and the new AltaVault brings some appealing improvements, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems (IAS), a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime NetApp partner.

"It was a good move that helped NetApp diversify its product line," Woodall told CRN. "It opens discussions for us in non-NetApp environments, and provides a stealthy way to open talks in a variety of accounts."

NetApp SteelStore, and now AltaVault, plug customers' storage environments into any Amazon S3-compliant cloud, Woodall said.

"Backing data up to the cloud sounds appealing to a lot of people," he said. "But once you start storing data to the cloud and moving it around, the cost is not so attractive. But AltaVault provides efficient deduplication of the data, and encrypts it, which mitigates cost and security concerns."

Migrating AltaVault to a new hardware platform is a logical step, Woodall said.

"It's not uncommon to re-platform an acquired technology to hardware already in use," he said. "How a company configures its software to fit hardware personalities is what gives a vendor its differentiation. And this also explains how NetApp can double AltaVault's performance and capacity."

The NetApp AltaVault AVA400 physical appliances and three models of the AVA virtual appliances for VMware ESX and Microsoft Hyper-V environments are currently available. The AltaVault cloud-based appliances are available for purchase on the AWS and Azure marketplaces. The AVA800 physical appliances are slated to ship in the third quarter.