Cloud Storage Services Built on NetApp Lead to No. 1 Ranking in IDC Study

by Jim Lyons, NetApp

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Based on a survey of more than 1,000 storage administrators worldwide, IDC’s recently published biannual Storage User Demand Study examines the data use cases for enterprise storage systems. The study also identifies end-user adoption of and plans for cloud storage services, including public, private and community cloud services.

I had the opportunity to interview Phil Brotherton, NetApp VP of Cloud Solutions, and asked for his perspectives on the IDC study. We also had the opportunity to discuss the impact cloud computing is having on IT organizations and the implications for the solutions his team builds.

Some people may be surprised that the IDC study ranked NetApp as the No. 1 provider of storage capacity for public cloud services. What’s behind that success?

Brotherton: The No. 1 ranking reflects the success that our partners and customers are having building cloud services based on NetApp® storage. Since we don’t offer our own cloud services, the IDC results are based on the growth of those customer businesses, which include SaaS, IaaS and PaaS.

The results also demonstrate that our focus on open APIs, data portability and strong partnerships is a winning approach. Many of our competitors are going in a different direction and building their own cloud services or aligning with specific cloud ‘stacks’ in ways that limit customer choice.

On the product side, our success is being driven by customer adoption of the clustered Data ONTAP® storage OS, which enables business-critical applications to be run in private and public clouds without interruption, regardless of the storage maintenance and lifecycle operations that need to take place behind the scenes. Data ONTAP also provides a common data platform for building hybrid cloud services, which is the endgame for most of our customers.

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Is hybrid cloud a future state, or is this something IT organizations can take advantage of today?

Brotherton: Both. For most IT organizations, it’s a future state, and they are preparing for it by designing private clouds that can support hybrid cloud services. However, any company that runs its applications on NetApp storage can start down the path to a hybrid cloud today. Many workloads can immediately benefit from a hybrid approach, such as disaster recovery, backup and data archiving, and all of those services are available through our global ecosystem of partners.

Some of our customers are even moving mission-critical applications into the cloud, such as those based on Microsoft®, Oracle® and SAP®. Virtustream is an example of a NetApp partner that offers a number of core business applications as services that can be deployed on private, public or hybrid clouds, depending on the customer requirements.

How do you see cloud services changing IT organizations?

Brotherton: Every enterprise IT organization will need to make a transition from building and maintaining IT services to acting as a broker for IT services that are delivered through a mix of internal and external resources. This will be similar to a transformation that’s already taken place for many manufacturers. For example, companies like NetApp no longer manufacture the physical products they sell. Instead, they focus on product design and manage a supply chain that handles the manufacturing part of their business.

Cloud services are driving the same type of transformation within IT.

What types of solutions is your team working on today?

Brotherton: We’re working on a number of things, such as adding more Direct Connect options so that companies can leverage hyperscale clouds like Amazon without actually storing sensitive data in the cloud. We’re also working with partners like Verizon to run Data ONTAP as a virtual storage system in public clouds, which will enable a whole range of new services and deployment options. And we’re working on technology that will enable the seamless transfer of data across different cloud stacks so that the data can move along with VMs when applications are transported across cloud providers.

The IDC study showed that the deployment of cloud services is happening at different rates across the companies surveyed, and a sizeable percentage had no current plans for third-party storage services. What do you expect to see in the future?

Brotherton: I think we’ll look back on this period as the calm before the storm. It’s pretty clear that most IT leaders are investing in private clouds today as a steppingstone to a hybrid model, and that the innovators have already been able to leverage external cloud services in a big way.

Our goal is to provide a storage and data management foundation that enables the creation of innovative cloud services, and to help our customers make a successful transition to a cloud model, whenever they choose to do so.

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