If you follow NetApp IT blogs, you’ll know that we talk a lot about our strategy to take advantage of the compute elasticity offered by the public cloud while maintaining ownership of our data. But one question comes up repeatedly: How do we operationalize the cloud? How does our cloud strategy translate into operational excellence, especially when it comes to taking advantage of hyperscaler cloud resources?Equinix Data Center Diagram.jpg

Our current cloud operations are actually fairly simple. They rely on three primary elements:

  • NetApp Private Storage (NPS) for Cloud enables us to access cloud resources while maintaining complete control over our data.
  • Cloud-connected colocation facilities, such as Equinix, allow the data to remain private just outside the cloud.
  • Hyperscalers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and others offer flexible compute resources.

NPS for Cloud Architecture

To better understand what this all means, let’s look at the physical architecture of NetApp IT and NPS for Cloud, as shown in this graphic. NetApp’s FAS system connects to the AWS and Azure compute via a dedicated network connection within an Equinix data center. We will connect to other hyperscalers in the future.

NetApp Cage.jpg

Our FAS system is physically deployed in racks located inside a NetApp cage, similar to that shown above. The minimum is two nodes for high availability. The FAS system is managed by an off-site storage team.   

Equinix Hall.jpg

The FAS system connects to a layer 3 network switch, patched to an Equinix patch panel through a cross connect.

Equinix Hall.jpg

The Equinix cross-connect uses single-mode fiber (SMF) optic cables that run through a large, yellow overhead tray and down the aisles of the Equinix facility to the cloud peering switch in the AWS and Azure cages.

Hyperscale Cages.jpg

The cable directly connects to AWS and Azure inside their respective cages. Given the close physical proximity of the storage and data to the hyperscaler, we now can access a high bandwidth (10GB) Ethernet connection from our data center by way of NPS to the cloud. Our data resides in NetApp storage, but our compute is accessed in AWS or Azure. We currently operate our legal, human resources, branding, customer service support, and various other portals using NPS for Cloud.

Keeping Control of Our Data

The single most important benefit to NetApp IT of using NPS for Cloud is that we keep control of our data. We use the SnapMirror® feature of ONTAP® to replicate the data from our on-premises data centers to NPS then to AWS or Azure. The NetApp Data Fabric enables us to connect to and switch cloud providers at any time. We avoid vendor lock-in and costly data migrations.

Is NPS for Cloud really that simple?  Yes. For NetApp IT there are eight factors that drive our use of NPS for cloud:

    • Ability to rapidly scale our compute or secure run-time resources for peak workloads
    • Ability to keep control of data at all times
    • Maintain the low latency required by databases
    • High-throughput, direct connections to the cloud
    • Centralized storage intelligence using OnCommand® Insight and data management through NetApp  ONTAP® software
    • Compliance with the security and privacy requirements of companies and governments
    • Migration flexibility so that individual applications can be easily moved between clouds
    • Common set of capabilities that can be used to manage and access the data across all the platforms

Our next phase is to work with Business Apps to build cloud-aware apps that take advantage of the many benefits of the cloud. This includes deploying platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and DevOps run-time environments in the cloud. The cloud is definitely a key part of our strategy to excel at IT service delivery inside NetApp.

For more information on how NetApp IT uses NPS, view the inforgraphic below:

The NetApp-on-NetApp blog series features advice from subject matter experts from NetApp IT who share their real-world experiences using NetApp’s industry-leading storage solutions to support business goals. Want to view learn more about the program? Visit www.NetAppIT.com.

Data center photos courtesy of Equinix.


Mike Frycz