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

Customers tell me they’re grappling with the next wave of infrastructure consolidation. At the same time, they want to match the flexibility of the cloud and ensure they protect their precious data. In short, they’re under the gun to deliver more strategic IT value while minimizing capex and opex. It’s an interesting tension. For some, a scary one.

The good news is we have an answer. The NetApp vision of a Data Fabric can help enterprises address these challenges through low-barrier-to-entry starter kits. We call them Data Fabric Solution Essentials:

    • OpenStack Solution Kit: Get up and running on an OpenStack private cloud in days, not months, with known costs and without the design and implementation risk.
    • Application Acceleration Solution Kit: Accelerate application lifecycle from development to production by adding non-disruptive optimization and access to elastic compute for databases.
    • Snap-to-Cloud DR Solution Kit: A single replication solution for disaster recovery, business intelligence, data distribution and dev/test.

Infrastructure Consolidation and the Cloud

The storage industry has enjoyed a dramatic expansion cycle with innovations in media (flash, storage class memory), platform design (converged, hyper-converged), software (objects, open source) and delivery models (private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud).

But the expansion in discrete storage products and architectures has proliferated beyond the ability of many customers to manage the resulting complexity. I am seeing customers stress over how they will consolidate data centers, manage across a larger pool of storage resources and drive more IT projects with the same or fewer IT staff. We are now entering an era of consolidation where value is shifting to data management.

The NetApp flash-to-disk-to-cloud capability gives these companies a great place to start. To clarify, flash-to-disk-to-cloud doesn’t mean going sequentially from flash to disk to cloud. Rather, it refers to the ability to move, manage and protect your data across flash, disk and cloud resources using a single UI. The Data Fabric is what knits it all together. The flexibility enabled by flash-to-disk-to-cloud is fantastic. Applications may be born in the cloud, for example, run on flash in production, backed up to disk and archived back to the cloud.

Try it out with the new NetApp® Application Acceleration Solution Kit® for database applications, which is ideal for deploying a small four-node flash and disk cluster that runs Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle databases. You’ll quickly see how we help you address the key challenges of needing high, consistent performance with no data loss and with comprehensive data management while effectively leveraging the cloud.

Our flash-to-disk-to-cloud platform, enabled by the NetApp® clustered Data ONTAP® software, is the only flash platform that offers all this functionality with none of the pressure to go into the cloud. You have investment protection so that you could go into the cloud, but you could also just be on disk and flash, or build a private cloud. Your data can be managed across different resource pools in a simplified, software-defined way with one UI. It’s what we mean when we talk about the freedom, data mobility and speed of Data Fabric.

Match the Flexibility of the Cloud

Many enterprises are captivated with the services model of the cloud. They are fascinated with the software-defined-everything model where services are consumed on demand and managed centrally. They want software-defined storage, software-defined networking, and software-defined compute so that infrastructure can be delivered on demand and managed by service levels.

The economics of the public cloud are challenging, however, for customers with 24 x 7 x 365 service needs. What seems cheap to rent becomes expensive when fixed. At NetApp, we view the cloud as simply another resource. A Data Fabric powered by NetApp allows you to integrate the cloud into a common data management framework that provides efficient transport and software-defined management of all your storage resources.

If you have unpredictable workloads that you want to burst into the cloud, hyperscale public clouds are great. But if you have predictable, repeatable demand, then building your own cloud with all the functionality and agility of a commodity cloud provider starts to look attractive. Baylor College of Medicine is a leading institution that leveraged the FlexPod® data center platform from NetApp and Cisco to build a private cloud that made infrastructure easier to access. Baylor’s goal was to focus researchers on health science research rather than IT and rein in “shadow IT” strategies that often backfired. Baylor’s private cloud, appropriately named “Discovery Cloud,” enhanced the institution’s research with easy-to-use, on-demand, self-service IT and saved $1.5 million in hardware costs.

The new NetApp® OpenStack Solution Kit® is an integrated management package that lets you get up and running on an OpenStack private cloud in days, with predictable costs and without the typical design and implementation risk. OpenStack offers a new economic model for the private cloud because it is an open source cloud operating system, much like Linux is an open source operating system for servers.

An added benefit of the NetApp Data Fabric is performance-which differentiates it from what the cloud has to offer. One thing you can’t get from the cloud today is any sort of guaranteed performance. The cloud is essentially a collection of loosely federated, shared systems consisting of hundreds and thousands of nodes across multiple geographies. The performance it delivers is no match for the latency of a tightly clustered system of the kind that NetApp can help you build.

Protecting Your Precious Data

Ask any customer about putting data in the cloud and the first question is always around security. There is no doubt that data location is the most strategic cloud decision because data is the only element that transcends the transactional nature of the cloud. It is not fast or free to move and ownership or loss has long-standing consequences.

But not all data is critically sensitive and not all IT organizations are able to deliver fast restores that can be critical to a business. Many businesses are looking at backup as an area that could be outsourced to the cloud. This elevates the need for mature data management services that form part of the Data Fabric vision.

BlackLine, a leading provider of applications that automate and control the entire financial close process, is an example of one of our customers that enjoys seamless control of its data in and out of the cloud, due in part to a Data Fabric enabled by NetApp that leverages the NetApp® Data ONTAP® operating system.

The new NetApp® Snap-to-Cloud DR Solution Kit® was designed for the customer that wants to leverage the cloud for backup and DR of less critical data where high probability restores are the highest priority. With NetApp® Cloud ONTAP™ storage operating system, Snap-to-Cloud is available today with a 30-day free trial on Amazon. Snap-to-Cloud lets you experience the power of the Data Fabric in a specific case. If you wish to expand to more general cases, the Data Fabric enables that. Some customers prefer to have an on-premise copy of the data for even faster restores, and the NetApp® AltaVault® cloud-integrated storage solution is ideal for this. Others may wish to keep ownership of their data and simply tap into cloud compute from Microsoft Azure, IBM SoftLayer or Google using NetApp® Private Storage for Cloud solutions.

While the Data Fabric Solution Essentials provide blueprints on how to get started with the cloud, the Data Fabric is designed to allow customers to choose the path that’s right for them. Navigating these choices is the hard part and we can help you with that too. Our experienced consultants and technical staff are ready to help you design and deploy the options you choose.

Let us help you do cloud your way!

Get the full news on the value of Data Fabric for customers.

Data Fabric is NetApp’s vision for the future of data management. It gives you the freedom to seamlessly manage your data across the hybrid cloud. You can move data where you need it most, innovate faster, and always make the best decisions for you and your organization.

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