NetApp BlueXP Adds Simplicity, Security Capabilities To Storage Management
Joseph F. Kovar
‘As customers scale to the cloud, they are living in a hybrid multi-cloud world. They are having to do more with less. We are addressing the simplicity to let them do so in hybrid environments,’ says Ronen Schwartz, senior vice president and general manager of NetApp’s Cloud Volumes business.
Storage and cloud technology developer NetApp Wednesday unveiled new capabilities in NetApp BlueXP to help simplify data backup and recovery, provide data protection across a wide range of environments, and the ability to deploy in highly secured environments including government sites.
Improved automation, increased cyber resilience across hybrid cloud environments and improved ease of use are key to helping businesses expand their hybrid multi-cloud capabilities, said Ronen Schwartz, senior vice president and general manager of the San Jose, Calif.-based company’s Cloud Volumes business.
“As customers scale to the cloud, they are living in a hybrid multi-cloud world,” Schwartz told CRN. “They are having to do more with less. We are addressing the simplicity to let them do so in hybrid environments. NetApp is furthering its leadership in the hybrid cloud world by offering support to do their best in hybrid multi-cloud environments.”
NetApp BlueXP, released in November 2022, is a unified control plane to manage storage and data services across on-premises and private and public cloud environments. It provides a single user interface for configuring and monitoring storage and data services from on-premises to private and public clouds.
New to NetApp BlueXP is a simplified, easy-to-use experience to let users configure data snapshots and backup strategy, Schwartz said.
“We’ve added full automation to let users choose their backup strategy while everything else is done in the background,” he said. “For instance, there’s no need for multiple steps to choose which cloud to send snapshots to.”
BlueXP also now supports customer-managed encryption keys that are integrated with Azure Active directory and Azure KeyVault, he said.
Another big move is private mode for BlueXP, Schwartz said.
“This provides the benefits of BlueXP without connecting to a cloud,” he said. “This is a great fit for three-letter agencies and other sensitive environments where customers do not need a cloud but instead need air-gapped environments. Such clients are moving more into restricted modes where they are not connected to the public internet.”
For many of those clients, NetApp BlueXP also now includes NetApp’s Cloud Insights Federal Edition to make it available at the FedRAMP level, he said.
For developers, NetApp BlueXP offers AIOps to add automated workflows for storage capacity management, with automated identification of assets with capacity constraints, the ability to review all assets and new automated workflow actions, Schwartz said.
“We’re also adding operational resiliency with auto detection of security gaps, automated workflow actions to mitigate risks and automatic updates,” he said. “These are valuable capabilities in general, but especially in large data center environments or hybrid multi-cloud environments.”
Also new is a sustainability dashboard, Schwartz said.
“It comes with recommendations to address workflow issues and best practices for sustainability,” he said.
NetApp BlueXP has turned out to be a “powerful” interface for on-premises and cloud storage, as well as for NetApp’s Keystone Storage-as-a-Service technology, said John Woodall, vice president of solutions architecture West at General Datatech, a Dallas-based solution provider that has been working with BlueXP since before its original launch.
“And it’s free for NetApp customers, so the price is right,” Woodall told CRN.
BlueXP is one of the most understated yet powerful capabilities of NetApp, Woodall told CRN.
“When I do NetApp presentations, I start out with a few slides, and then jump into a demonstration of BlueXP,” he said. “It’s easy to use to show NetApp technology, easy to show how hybrid clouds using NetApp elements can be done.”
NetApp has used technologies to show what a true unified storage architecture is, Woodall said.
“’Unified storage’ used to mean file and block storage in a single architecture,” he said. “Then it was file, block and object storage. Now it includes the cloud. And NetApp has been a leader in this.”
BlueXP’s capabilities help prove ‘mean time to innocence,’ Woodall said.
“If something goes wrong in the infrastructure, it can see the issue and collect data,” he said. “Cloud Insights through BlueXP coordinates the data collection to provide a look at what point in time the issues are measurable to let users focus on operations and recovery, and it can prove that time. It can show that ‘it’s not my problem’ or ‘the problem is over there,’ or maybe that it is my problem.”
Adding Ontap S3 as a backup target to BlueXP makes sense since NetApp has had SnapMirror to S3 for a while, Woodall said.
The new BlueXP private mode is also crucial given that NetApp is the single largest storage provider for the federal government, Woodall said.
He also said he likes seeing the BlueXP sustainability dashboard.
“Every vendor has data sheets showing power consumption in different situations, and they generally are accurate,” he said. “But they are not using your numbers. They are based on specific configurations. But for ESG [environmental, social and governance], which is growing in importance for certain commercial and government agencies, we’re seeing requests for detailed information. BlueXP is collecting telemetry on actual usage. So if a customer’s goal is to increase ESG, they will now get more accurate information.”
The new enhancements to NetApp BlueXP are currently available, Schwartz said. “It’s not slideware,” he said.