NetApp Ups Cloud Flexibility With New Google Focus, Low-Cost Flash
Joseph F. Kovar
‘As customers continue to transition to flash and the cloud, and continue to modernize their IT infrastructures, they are facing budget constraints. NetApp is building on its strengths in flash and cloud to transition customers to all-flash with the economics of hybrid storage and the future-proofing NetApp can deliver. … We also want to make it easy to take VMware workloads to the cloud with flexibility across all three major cloud providers, and make it all seamless managed,’ says Sandeep Singh, NetApp’s senior vice president and general manager of enterprise storage
Hybrid cloud technology developer NetApp Tuesday unveiled a new low-cost series of all-flash storage arrays with a software bundle that provides tight cloud integration.
The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based storage company also introduced its first program for allowing free upgrades to its storage controllers that in the future can be exchanged for cloud storage credits, and the completion of its trifecta of providing native storage services for all three major hyperscaler cloud providers with its latest additions to enable businesses to run VMware workloads natively in Google environments with NetApp services.
The main focus of the news from NetApp is on flexibility, said Sandeep Singh, senior vice president and general manager of enterprise storage for the company.
[Related: NetApp CEO Kurian: ‘Sizable Opportunity’ Exists In Cloud Operations Portfolio]
“As customers continue to transition to flash and the cloud, and continue to modernize their IT infrastructures, they are facing budget constraints,” Singh told CRN. “NetApp is building on its strengths in flash and cloud to transition customers to all-flash with the economics of hybrid storage and the future-proofing NetApp can deliver. … We also want to make it easy to take VMware workloads to the cloud with flexibility across all three major cloud providers, and make it all seamless managed with NetApp BlueXP.”
NetApp BlueXP is a new unified control plane to manage storage and data services across on-premises and private and public cloud environments, and lets users configure storage and data services from on-premises to private and public clouds with a single user interface.
NetApp is showing a real focus on the security, simplicity, sustainability, and cost savings customers are looking for from their storage infrastructures, said John Woodall, solutions architecture west at General Datatech, a Dallas-based solution provider and longtime NetApp channel partner.
“NetApp is making it easy to get a full-flexibility, seamless service from on-prem to the cloud,” Woodall told CRN. “It’s a very powerful story. Other vendors are moving in this direction, but you have to look at their cloud integration vs. what NetApp is doing. You have to look at this in a fully-integrated way.”
NetApp wants to help customers modernize their on-premises infrastructure to all-flash storage within the constraints of their budgets, and then help them accelerate their journey to the cloud and manage their environment seamlessly across hybrid cloud and multi-cloud deployments, Singh said.
NetApp Tuesday introduced four new ways in which it looks to accomplish that, he said.
First, NetApp is continuing to advance its goal of an all-flash data center with the introduction of its new AFF C-series storage arrays, which are based on low-cost QLC capacity flash storage for workloads in the midrange to high-end segment, Singh said. The three models in the AFF C-series let customer scale from 122 TBs of raw capacity into multi-petabyte deployments, he said.
The AFF C-series includes OnTap One, an all-in-one license that includes all available NetApp software, Singh said.
“OnTap One is the most comprehensive software in the industry,” he said. “It includes tamper-proof snapshots, data efficiency, anti-ransomware technology, and policies to enable hybrid clouds.”
The AFF C-series can be used in such situations as helping customer move from hybrid disk and flash story to all-flash storage, for high-performance tier-two storage applications, and for secondary storage applications including backup, disaster recovery, and archiving, Singh said.
This is not NetApp’s or the storage industry’s first foray into QLC-based storage technology, which takes consumer-grade QLC NAND and uses software to provide enterprise-like performance and NAND longevity. NetApp did so in 2020 with its FAS 500F array, while arch-rival Pure Storage did so with its FlashArray//C starting in 2019.
The time is right for NetApp to make a big play in the capacity-oriented QLC NAND-based flash storage array field, Woodall said.
“NetApp OnTap is the most versatile cloud-connected system in the market,” he said. “Some applications need the benefits of flash, but don’t need the highest performance. For customers looking to refresh their storage, the benefits of flash now outweigh the extra cost. Compared to hybrid storage, low-cost flash reduces power and space requirements so both footprint and power use fall.”
The second significant news from NetApp is NetApp Advance, which Singh said future-proofs the investment customers make in NetApp storage by allowing them to get free upgrades to their controllers every three years without the need to swap out hard drives or flash storage.
NetApp Advance also lets customers swap out capacity for credit for new capacity, and provides free software upgrades and the tools to ensure a best-in-class ownership experience, he said.
Even more important, he said, under NetApp Advance, those controllers can be traded for credit for a choice of NetApp cloud solutions of their choice when they’re ready to increase their cloud footprint, including for NetApp Keystone storage-as-a-service, Singh said.
“We’re offering complete flexibility and future-proofing,” he said.
NetApp arch-rival Pure Storage has been offering its own storage controller upgrade program, Evergreen Storage, since 2015. Evergreen Storage last year was renamed Evergreen//Forever.
Flexibility is the key with NetApp Advance, Woodall said.
“We have customers migrating to the cloud but who also want to maintain some data on-premises and in the cloud,” he said. “NetApp Advance simplifies the conversation around the lifecycle management of assets. The industry wants simplicity, and Advance addresses this need from an ownership point of view.”
The third piece of news is around sustainability, which Singh said is becoming a strategic imperative for customers looking at the environmental impact of storage.
NetApp is introducing a new sustainability dashboard which shows how far customers have moved towards their goals, he said. That is increasingly an important factor in buying decisions, he said.
NetApp is also introducing Titanium-rated storage drives, introducing a sustainability SLA (service level agreement) for its storage technology including NetApp Keystone that shows how many watts are used per terabyte of capacity, and new reports showing the carbon footprint for its AFF series of all-flash storage drives, he said.
The final piece of news is the introduction of the general availability of NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud as datastores for Google Cloud VMware Engine (GCVE), Singh said. NetApp has introduced similar native storage capabilities for Amazon Web Service and Microsoft Azure, he said.
“Google and VMware is a predominate environment in customer data centers,” he said. “The ability to take virtualized environment to cloud environments is important for customers. And now we are doing it for Google. Customers get the storage availability and management of NetApp OnTap on Google.”
NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud as datastores for Google Cloud VMware Engine is the final linchpin for NetApp in public clouds, Woodall said.
“When NetApp announced it was the primary data store on AWS and Azure last year, that was two out of three,” he said. “Now they have all three hyperscalers with native NetApp storage. Now customers can manage VMware workloads at a lower cost. They can now do cloud storage your own way. NetApp is providing the services and letting customers use their cloud of choice to run their VMware workloads.”