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By Jason Blosil, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, NetApp


For fans like me, the most recent Star Wars, The Force Awakens, represented a new hope. Thankfully it delivered on expectations. That means taking us back to the simpler universe of the original trilogy and the battle between good vs. evil, heroes vs. villains, the Rebel Alliance vs. the Empire.


But for those of us in the IT space, are there lessons we can learn from Star Wars? Is there wisdom awaiting us from a great Jedi Master (or Sith Lord, depending on your perspective)? We at NetApp have explored some of those ideas in the past. But after a decade since the last film, what’s new?


A Disturbance in the Force

First, two major disruptors have emerged in IT over the last five to 10 years: cloud delivered IT and flash media. Flash essentially makes applications run dramatically faster-20 times faster for some workloads (not quite lightspeed but it feels like it).. And cloud IT draws on scale and agility to enable organizations to deliver intelligent applications hosted on a shared infrastructure, removing the requirements to purchase capital and facilities to house their own IT. There is a lot to like about cloud, but as with all things, there is a dark side, in terms of data security, data governance, cost (how it is measured), and lock-in.


There are more Star Wars parallels here. Remember the way Senator Palpatine created uncertainty and contention within the Senate in order to ultimately take control of the whole republic? He subtly created concern that the current way of doing business was failing, that the Senate had lost decisive abilities and that a central leader was needed to solve the problems (that he was creating). Ultimately, once that power was given to him, he destroyed the organizations that could oppose him in the future, leaving everyone powerless to resist.


Can moving to the cloud similarly backfire?


We have seen cases where cloud has failed and resulted in very negative outcomes for customers. It is very easy to get into the cloud, but costly to get out or move between clouds. The good news is that an intelligent data fabric built with NetApp technologies offers the ability to manage, control, and protect your data with the freedom and choice of where and how you store it.


Organizations want to leverage IT resources to do what’s best for them-launch applications rapidly in the cloud; pull them to an agile, private cloud for production; and protect and archive data over time to the cloud. At least, that is one model. Others might prefer an all-cloud model. Still others might prefer a cloud model that constantly changes as the organization grows and evolves. Freedom, choice and mobility-aren’t these qualities worth fighting for that even rebels can agree on?


Making the Jump to Hyperspace

Making the jump to lightspeed takes precise calculations. As Han Solo notes in the film, jumping to lightspeed without precise calculations could result in flying tight through a star or bouncing too close to a supernova. The same thing can be said about developing enterprise applications.


As more and more data is created, developers are under greater pressure to create applications to mine the data quickly and efficiently. But before the application can be deployed, it needs to be tested-or run the risk of running into a blockade or getting sucked into a black hole of data. As such, developers are turning to vendors like NetApp to design storage and cloud platforms optimized for their particular needs.


For example, NetApp offers a portfolio of high-performance storage products optimized for developers’ extreme performance requirements. Data ONTAP with Flash Essentials is a feature-rich, high-performance unified storage solution, designed to deliver optimized storage performance and behavior for flash media under the most extreme workloads.


In cases where data management is preferred at the application layer, our EF-Series storage line offers extreme density, high bandwidth, and insanely low latency for the most performance intensive applications. Think high-performance computing (HPC) or data analytics-or attempting to make the jump to hyperspace with imperial TIE-fighters on your tail.


So, whether you need the rich data management, or a world-class enterprise building block, NetApp all-flash storage arrays can help power your applications with lightspeed.


That’s No Moon…it’s a Space Station

At the heart of the Rebel Alliance strategy is protecting the citizens against the tyranny of the Empire, especially when Empire’s battle station is fully operational (sorry Alderaan). Similarly, data protection should be at the heart of your data management strategy. The purpose of data protection is to quickly recover from failure or data loss-it’s not enough to just store backup copies of your data.


Imagine if the Empire had a network of Death Stars linked to each other so they could back each other up in case one went down? That kind of redundancy could have led to the defeat of the Rebel Alliance. The assumption that the sheer size of the Death Star was enough to protect it was the Empire’s downfall-that and a thermal exhaust port. Simply taking the time to develop contingencies and backup systems at the design stage could have turned the tide during the Battle of Yavin.


Thankfully for NetApp’s customers, advanced data protection is already built into the world’s leading storage operating system. It offers the highest-performing, most space-efficient data protection and management capabilities. NetApp Snapshot technology enables the rapid creation and deletion of data copies for local copies, while enabling efficient remote replication for disaster recovery (SnapMirror) and backups (SnapVault).


And because Data ONTAP-based solutions can operate in your data center, at a remote office, in a co-location facility, and in the cloud with Cloud ONTAP, you can deploy a data management and protection architecture that allows you to recover from any conceivable disaster, even an attack on a Death Star.


May the Flash be with you!


As business demands grow, enterprises rush to eliminate the difference between what their database apps can deliver and what slow, disk-based servers allow the apps to do. Learn how many organizations are closing these performance gaps. Attend our webcast and learn how NetApp flash drives application performance at Western Oregon University.


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Jason Blosil

Jason is a business and marketing professional with over 20 years of product marketing, product management, and corporate finance experience. Since joining NetApp in 2008 he has been focused on SAN and NAS storage, backup and disaster recovery solutions, and cloud data services. When not in the office, you can find him cycling, cooking, enjoying time with family, and volunteering at his church and in the community.

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