By Lee Caswell, NetApp vice president of Product, Solutions and Services Marketing


Data can be hard to move and protect. Uploads and downloads from on prem to off prem always take longer than users like, and security risks often seem to be a click away. When you add backups to the mix, multiply by private and public cloud options, and then factor in multi-vendor platforms, the gravity of data and the challenge of keeping it secure can be overwhelming.


But what if there were a way to make data (drum roll, please) … weightless? Sure, it’s just a metaphor. But what if you could manage data as if it is weightless no matter where it lives? What if applications could move between clouds and the data did not have to move? What if space-efficient snapshots and clones could be shared efficiently and securely across dissimilar platforms to minimize transport times and capacity costs? What if data could be intelligently cached so long-term backup is trickled to the cloud and fast restores are accomplished on prem? 


Our answer to this challenge is the NetApp® vision of a Data Fabric. It overcomes the limitations of data gravity in the cloud so teams can manage, move and protect data seamlessly across the hybrid cloud. The Data Fabric lets customers uniquely solve the security, transport and cost challenges that arise when cloud and enterprise meet by integrating compute and storage in creative new combinations. It frees up users to store and access data anywhere. In short, the Data Fabric lets you do cloud your way.


New Combinations of Compute and Storage

Some early cloud adopters presumed that all compute and all data would end up in public clouds and that hybrid clouds were simply an unfortunate stop along the way. But users quickly realized that moving data to the cloud introduces sovereignty, cost, time and performance challenges that are unique to data storage. While compute can be instantly turned on and off with no long-standing consequences, cloud storage behaves uniquely, takes time to create, requires ongoing budget to maintain, is costly to repatriate and has long-term security implications.


Rather than focus on just one aspect of the cloud and encourage customers to go public, private or both, we’ve taken a more open approach. If private cloud is where you want to start, our ONTAP® operating system integrates the features you need to automate your data center. Capabilities like non-disruptive operations, advanced storage efficiency and StorageGRID Webscale enable private clouds on prem.


When you’re ready to go hybrid, a solution we call NetApp Private Storage (NPS) allows users to integrate cloud compute with on-prem or off-prem storage. DevOps customers can then burst into the cloud for compute flexibility while preserving the sovereignty of data that continues to be managed and maintained privately. For disaster recovery (DR) designers, NetApp Private Storage allows data to be protected and managed separately for compliance while secondary servers are only rented when an incident occurs. And for multi-cloud users, NetApp Private Storage has demonstrated five-second application failover and drag-and-drop functionality between clouds, making the data weightlessly easy to move.


In these cases, the Data Fabric overcomes data gravity by not moving the data in the first place. And while the initial uses of NetApp Private Storage were driven by security, now users are linking cloud compute with private storage to achieve the same SLOs and data management capabilities across multiple clouds.


New Ways to Efficiently Manage Data

Many customers are surprised to discover that restoring a full copy of a 1-terabyte backup from a cloud can take three days. In cloud environments, a highly efficient Data Fabric can speed the process of sharing copies to effectively make data lighter and faster. If you’ve ever tried moving data to the cloud, restore data back from the cloud or move it between clouds using traditional technologies, you’d understand how the data management of a Data Fabric offers new value and freedom.


Proven Solutions, Proven Partnerships

Mercy Hospital in Joplin, Mo. learned some hard lessons about the value of protecting data in the cloud-but the lessons could have been much harder. In 2009, after virtualizing its data storage with NetApp, the hospital invested $60 million in a new data center to support the virtualized infrastructure. The new data center went online in 2011 shortly before a powerful tornado destroyed the hospital. Fortunately, IT had already migrated patient data out of the basement and into the cloud, limiting the impact of the disaster. Mercy’s solution included NetApp SnapMirror® technology, which provides fast, efficient data replication and disaster recovery for critical data.


NetApp customers and partners are relying on the Data Fabric to introduce new products and services that integrate public clouds with enterprise storage. A growing partnership ecosystem allows for new combinations that meet customer and regional needs.


The Data Fabric vision provides partners with an opportunity to deliver services that interconnect and protect the varied data sources and targets. The services opportunities of working with NetApp are in stark contrast to the single engagement model typical of point-product startups. By solving complex data management, NetApp partners introduce long-term value for customer environments that can include flash, disk, and cloud. The Data Fabric allows partners to sell with the cloud, and our common user interface (UI) has the additional benefit of simplifying management in a world of limited IT skills.


The Data Fabric overcomes the limitations of data gravity in the cloud so teams can manage, move and protect data seamlessly across the hybrid cloud. The Data Fabric enables you to do cloud your way. Learn more about how we can help you build your Data Fabric today.


Check out our news about how NetApp Extends Enterprise Data Protection Across the Hybrid Cloud.


Learn how transforming your data protection can help your business.


Data Protection