NetApp Goes All In On Hybrid Multi-Cloud With New Flash Array, Services

‘The common theme here is really around having the best unified storage portfolio on-premises and in the cloud, with security built in and with AI as a focused workload,’ says Jeff Baxter, NetApp’s vice president of product marketing.


NetApp Tuesday opened its annual Insight conference with new technologies the company is using to increase its unified storage and hybrid multi-cloud capabilities.

NetApp is unveiling updates across its entire portfolio, including enhancements to its unified data storage portfolio and improvements to its ransomware recovery guarantee via new technologies that help businesses take better advantage of hybrid multi-cloud environments, said Jeff Baxter, vice president of product marketing for the San Jose, Calif.-based company.

“The common theme here is really around having the best unified storage portfolio on-premises and in the cloud, with security built in and with AI as a focused workload,” Baxter said.

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[Related: NetApp CEO: Journey To Cloud Complete, Focus On Evolved Cloud]

NetApp at Insight is continuing to define what unified data storage means in 2023, Baxter said.

“It’s not about just being able to do object, file and block on the same system,” he said. “That’s certainly a requirement. But it’s a checkmark that NetApp has done for years. In fact, we invented unified storage from a multiprotocol perspective about 30 years ago. Instead, it’s about having that same storage environment available as a first-party native service on all the major clouds like we do with AWS, [Microsoft] Azure and Google Cloud. And we’re the only ones that do that.”

It also includes having unified data services that work across all of those environments for protection, governance and mobility, and having automation and a consistent global API that works across all of those, Baxter said.

“So from a thought leadership perspective, we’re looking to really redefine what it means to [provide] unified data storage in a hybrid multi- cloud world,” he said. “And we believe that NetApp has the best solutions to do that.”

While a lot of people still think of NetApp as a NAS vendor, over 20,000 customers currently use the company’s technologies for SAN workloads, making it a dominant player in block storage, Baxter said.

NetApp in May rolled out its All-flash SAN Array, or ASA A-series, which was focused on performance over capacity, Baxter said. In February, the company introduced its AFF C series, its first capacity-focused flash storage array offering.

“Now we’re taking the best of both worlds with our new ASA C series to deliver unmatched savings and sustainability for block workloads, leveraging the SAN-optimized platform of the ASA combined with capacity flash,” he said. “We’re taking the low-cost and sustainability advantages of capacity flash and bringing it into a SAN-optimized environment with the ASA.”

The ASA C series will have three models that vary by performance and capacity, Baxter said. NetApp will also continue to offer its FAS family for hybrid flash and disk-based storage and its AFF family for unified storage.

Target workloads for the ASA C series include primary business-critical workloads and operational databases that don’t require the sub-millisecond latency expected from a performance all-flash system, Baxter said.

“Our AFF and ASA C series systems both typically get about 2 to 4 milliseconds of latency,” he said. “That is still an order of magnitude improvement over what you would get with disk drives. And so it’s perfectly satisfactory for business-critical operational databases, VMware virtual environments, as well as bringing the cost down to where things like backup and disaster recovery really make sense in an all-flash environment.”

Just as important, Baxter said, is that all of NetApp’s all-flash storage arrays run the same Ontap storage software. The only real difference, he said, is they are optimized for performance or capacity.

“That means all the value propositions from Ontap are applicable,” he said. “So all of the built-in application-consistent data protection, business continuity solutions, different guarantees,” he said. “And the ability to extend out to the cloud, to back up to the cloud, to tier to the cloud, to cache to and from the cloud, to do DR [disaster recovery]to the cloud, to migrate to cloud—all of those hybrid multi-cloud technologies that NetApp has been known for with Ontap are equally applicable to the ASA C series.”

The ASA C series is also eligible for a couple of important resiliency guarantees, Baxter said. These include a six-nines guaranteed uptime, which means the array will not be down more than 31.56 seconds per year, and NetApp’s new Ransomware Recovery Guarantee, he said.

NetApp’s new ASA C series is the next logical step for NetApp in its all-flash storage array business, said John Woodall, vice president of solutions architecture West at General Datatech, a Dallas-based solution provider and longtime NetApp channel partner.

“NetApp is now extending its ability to meet different workload requirements,” Woodall told CRN. “It is extremely competitive and plays with customers that are looking at what’s next. And it gives NetApp and its partners more opportunity to add value because it uses the same Ontap, the same operations and the same security as NetApp’s other arrays.”

The second unified storage-related news from NetApp Insight is that the company’s Keystone storage-as-a service offering for both on-premises and the cloud now has new availability and performance guarantees, Baxter said.

“We’ll guarantee five nines’ worth of uptime for our Keystone systems with automatic applied service credits, if we don’t meet that SLA, with no add-on or additional cost,” he said. “We will guarantee that we will meet the performance SLA as a service or you’ll automatically receive service credits for it.”

In addition, NetApp will in the next 90 days roll out the company’s Ransomware Recovery Guarantee for Keystone, he said.

NetApp’s Keystone business is growing at a high percentage and with good reason, Woodall said.

“Keystone has five nines of availability,” he said. “That’s pretty high for a service. Five nines of availability used to be the benchmark by which storage hardware service levels were measured.”

In addition, NetApp will be rolling out its Ransomware Recovery Guarantee to all its Ontap-based storage hardware platforms, he said.

NetApp is also doing a public preview of its NetApp BlueXP unified control plane to manage storage and data services across on-premises and private and public cloud environments called BlueXP Disaster Recovery. Baxter said BlueXP Disaster Recovery aims to make it easy to drag and drop an on-premises VMware environment running on NetApp storage to an AWS environment that doesn’t have to be running all the time to reduce the cost of recovering in the event of a disaster.

“Only in the event of a disaster, you can fail over there and bring live those VMs, at which point you’re starting to pay charges for running the VMs in the cloud,” he said. “But you’re not having to invest in a whole second copy of your data center or have a whole second VMware environment sitting there running, just waiting for DR. This also provides a built-in ability to test failover and failback in VMware environments.”

NetApp also used Insight to launch a new lower-cost tier for its Google Cloud NetApp Volumes. NetApp currently offers first-party native storage services offering with AWS, Azure and Google Cloud, Baxter said. New to this is a standard service level with Google Cloud NetApp Volumes that costs roughly two-thirds the cost of the standard service to make it easier to use at the entry level, he said.

NetApp will spend a lot of time at Insight talking about its first-party native storage services with AWS, Azure and Google Cloud, which makes sense given that the event is an opportunity to emphasize the fact that Ontap is the only first-party cloud-native storage technology to work across all three top hyperscalers, Woodall said.

“In today’s era, ‘unified storage’ means file, block and object; AWS, GCP and Azure; and cloud and on-prem,” he said. “There isn’t another storage vendor who can do that. NetApp’s value proposition is the envy of many storage vendors.”