NetApp rolled out several cloud-connected and storage announcements including a partnership with Google and a new all-flash array built for artificial intelligence (AI). The moves reflects NetApp’s ongoing effort to transition from a traditional storage vendor to a cloud data services company.
As Brett Roscoe, VP of marketing at NetApp puts it: “Our goal is being the data authority in a hybrid cloud world.”
Today’s product updates and public cloud integrations move the company closer to its goal, said Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Mark Peters.
“There’s no denying the fact that NetApp has been through some tough times in recent years,” he wrote in an email. “But both its market/financial results and now this basket of announcements continue the proof points that it is back into the light. These updates continue to actually show that NetApp is continuing to be far less a storage vendor than a data platform provider. In the contemporary IT world that is a good thing.”
Hybrid Cloud Play
Of course part of this transformation to a hybrid cloud company requires partnering with the major cloud providers. NetApp’s storage now integrates with the big three: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and, as of today, Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Specifically its Cloud Volumes, a fully-managed, cloud-native file storage service, integrates with GCP.
Giving customers access to all three major cloud providers helps them adopt a multi-cloud strategy, said Brett Roscoe, VP of marketing at NetApp. “Customer are using more than one public cloud provider and they are taking advantage of the strengths of each,” he said. “We want to have strong partnership with each of these cloud providers to give customers choice.”
The service allows companies to move workloads between on-premises data centers and the cloud. It includes automated syncs, called Snapshot, which copies and clones the data. And it provides disaster recovery, allowing customers to replicate data in the cloud.
“It also really helps with large-scale workloads — things like analytics, databases that can run on top of that scalable public-cloud infrastructure,” Roscoe said.
In addition to its Google partnership, NetApp announced several updates to its all-flash storage portfolio.
The company launched its new AFF A800, an NVMe-based storage platform, which is available now. The new system extends enterprise-grade flash to AI, machine learning, and other compute-intensive applications requiring low latency.
“It’s the world’s first NVMe end-to-end system,” Roscoe said. “We’ve been out there for a long time with NVMe systems, but that NVMe has been on the storage side.”
The all-flash array combines NVMe with NVMe over Fabrics for super-fast, low-latency connections “all the way from the disk drive to the compute resource, over the network that connects the storage to the CPU,” Roscoe said.
It also offers sub-200 microsecond latency as well as throughput of up to 300 GB/s in a 24-node cluster, he added.
NetApp’s ONTAP software powers the all-flash storage array, and the company updated that as well. The 9.4 release will enable NVMe over Fibre Channel for select systems.
The update improves data tiering with a new feature called FabricPool — the software automatically moves inactive data to a lower-cost storage tier in AWS, Azure, or a private cloud — and adds Azure support. “For most customers, this can free up 50 percent of their primary storage capacity,” Roscoe said.
And it includes cryptographic and erasure security enhancements, which helps meet certain regulatory requirements. “That’s a fancy way of saying we can secure data, we can make sure it’s secured and erased or deleted when a legal requirement mandates it for a certain type of data,” Roscoe said.
Another new capability called Active IQ provides cloud-based analytics to predict future performance needs and identify unprotected data to optimize operations.
“Factually and technically these are all excellent improvements,” Peters said. “However the main story here is not the products themselves but more is about what they represent, and that is steady, impressive progress against NetApp’s ‘cloud-connected’ strategy and a move away from being ‘just’ a box company.”