NetApp Extends Hybrid On-Prem, Cloud Data Management Capabilities With New Software Focus

NetApp Wednesday expanded its hybrid cloud capabilities with a new version of its SolidFire all-flash storage operating system targeting hybrid cloud environments.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based storage vendor also introduced a new version of its Ontap storage operating system with significant performance and feature enhancements, and brought its object storage technology closer to the Amazon cloud.

The new products, introduced at the company's NetApp Insight 2017 conference being held this week in Las Vegas, show NetApp's strong commitment to hybrid on-premises and cloud environments, said John Rollason, senior director for NetApp's next generation data center product solutions marketing.

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"We absolutely believe it's a hybrid world," Rollason told CRN. "For people building cloud service provider clouds or on-premises infrastructures with cloud-like capabilities, we're releasing a new set of enhancements to continue the development of our Data Fabric."

New from NetApp is the SolidFire Element OS 10, the latest version of the all-flash storage array technology NetApp got with its 2016 acquisition of SolidFire.

SolidFire Element OS 10 now supports the full range of delivery options, including physical all-flash storage arrays, the FlexPod SF all-flash converged infrastructure offering, and NetApp HCI, the company's new hyper-converged infrastructure offering scheduled to ship by the end of this month, Rollason said.

This is a significant enhancement in that it brings consistency across the three product lines with a new common code base with connectivity to the on-premises, virtual and cloud versions of the company's Ontap software, said Brett Roscoe, NetApp's vice president of products, solutions, and services marketing.

"They can also now use Ontap, Ontap Cloud and Ontap Select as targets for data," Roscoe said. "This lets them be used to create copies for later recovery in a disaster or to be used to hold data for retention purposes."

The SolidFire Element OS 10 news is part of a larger Data Fabric initiative that NetApp is developing, said Juan Orlandini, chief architect at Datalink, an Eden Prairie, Minn.-based subsidiary of Insight and a longtime NetApp channel partner.

"This will help customers specify where data resides," Orlandini told CRN. "Now it can be on Ontap, or on SolidFire or in the cloud. Customers' ability to do data mobility between all these areas is a huge bonus."

Customers are already taking advantage of data mobility, Datalink's Orlandini said.

"But it has been challenging," he said. "Look at data protection with Azure or Amazon Web Services. Customers can replicate data to those clouds, but it's expensive because of poor efficiency and a lack of easy-to-use tools. NetApp has been doing this for over 20 years, and has a certain maturity. Customers can use NetApp to increase data efficiency and actually lower their costs over the long run. And if they can include on-premises there, it becomes a part of the Data Fabric."

SolidFire Element OS 10 will make it easy to replicate data from systems based on the operating system to Ontap-based platforms, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime NetApp channel partner.

"Customers will be able to replicate [SolidFire] Element OS 10-based data sets to any Ontap platform for vaulting, backup or disaster recovery," Woodall told CRN.

The new offering will also bring new endpoints into the Data Fabric, Woodall said.

"We have a number of customers with a mix of NetApp FAS and SolidFire technology, but not always in the same location," he said. "If SolidFire is in one location, and a FAS or All Flash FAS array is in another, and customers need to do disaster recovery, now they can do it without the need to add a new array. And as long as they have the software in place, there's no need to purchase another array. Just add more capacity."

Also new from NetApp Wednesday is Ontap 9.3, the latest version of the company's Ontap storage operating system. Roscoe said the new version features a 40 percent increase in performance with lower latency on all-flash storage arrays, added quality of service capabilities to scale performance as capacity grows, a guarantee that it can reduce data size by six times via deduplication, and additional security capabilities.

The increased performance is impressive given that it was done via software alone, Orlandini said.

"That's an awesome upgrade for software only," he said. "Ontap was already fast. But now NetApp is upgrading the software but using the same hardware. Phenomenal. Ontap is already as competitive as anyone else in that space."

NetApp also enhanced its StorageGrid object storage software with new capabilities for Amazon Web Services. The new version, StorageGrid Webscale 11.0, now allows the mirroring of its object storage across geographies, and lets that data be better managed with a full range of AWS capabilities, Rollason said.

Roscoe said StorageGrid Webscale 11.0 can now create S3 buckets for AWS to allow Amazon compute operations be done on the data in AWS. It also allows data to be kept on premises if desired while the compute on the data is done in AWS.

NetApp's goal here is to build the pipelines of data services across on-premises and Amazon "whether [customers] want to keep the data on-prem or in the cloud," he said.

StorageGrid is an enabling technology that customers need to adopt appropriately, such as in conjunction with the right applications that also feature Amazon S3 APIs, Orlandini said. It is also a good option for data protection and with long-term retention, and for working with NetApp's AltaVault archiving appliance, he said.

The latest version of StorageGrid, like all previous releases, offers new levels of flexibility, IAS' Woodall said. That is important as the amount of unstructured data continues to grow and workloads on the cloud tend to require a lot of data, he said.

Customers are looking at analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and cognitive learning to gain more value from their business, and a lot of the tools to do that are in the cloud, Woodall said.

"StorageGrid 11 mirrors the S3 bucket of data to AWS where the analytics are done," he said. "And with the mirroring capability, users can get the data back on-premises. This lets customers leverage the cloud for S3 analytics."