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NetApp Data Fabric expands hybrid cloud strategy

At NetApp’s Insight partner and user conference, the company discussed NetApp Data Fabric, focusing on the connection between its on-premises storage and the public cloud

LAS VEGAS -- While the storage world spent Monday trying to digest the Dell-EMC acquisition, NetApp Inc. opened its Insight partner and user conference by pushing enhancements to its NetApp Data Fabric for the cloud.

NetApp executives did not publicly address the impact of the record-setting $67 billion Dell-EMC deal, nor did they address speculation that struggling NetApp -- which fired CEO Tom Georgens earlier this year -- could itself emerge as a potential takeover target. Privately, however, NetApp officials bristled at the timing of the deal.

"This week, there have been lots of industry announcements about consolidations," said NetApp CEO George Kurian, an oblique reference to the Dell-EMC news. "Our perspective on that is that people are seeking answers in the wrong places [from vendors] that aren't making customers the central part of their business. That's the difference with our approach with Data Fabric. We want to give customers a way to manage their data on premises and in the cloud."

That's the difference with our approach with Data Fabric. We want to give customers a way to manage their data on premises and in the cloud.
George Kurian, NetApp CEO

Kurian's comments came during the rollout of NetApp Data Fabric Solutions Essentials -- bundled kits designed to help customers implement hybrid cloud storage, using NetApp storage hardware and its Cloud Ontap software. Cloud Ontap is a virtual edition of NetApp's Clustered Data Ontap operating system. NetApp launched Cloud Data Fabric at its Insight 2014 conference, billing it as a suite of storage hardware and services aimed at streamlining data management between on premises and cloud storage.

The NetApp Data Fabric Solutions bundled kits include Application Acceleration, which allows customers to use the NetApp hybrid cloud storage on a trial basis. The Application Acceleration bundle includes a four-node flash and disk cluster for Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle database storage workloads, using one of NetApp's three all-flash array systems running its Clustered Data Ontap operating system.

NetApp also added support for Google Cloud Platform public cloud storage to Data Fabric. The vendor already supported Amazon Web Services Simple Storage Service (S3), Microsoft Azure and IBM SoftLayer public clouds.

Other new Cloud Data Fabric options include OpenStack software bundled on NetApp FlexPod storage hardware that "strips out the risk of deploying OpenStack [cloud storage] in production," said Lee Caswell, NetApp's vice president of product and solutions marketing. There is also a Snap-to-Cloud disaster recovery and backup bundle with FlexPod, which NetApp makes available on the Amazon Marketplace.

Caswell said NetApp is creating a catalog of "enablement services" to help organizations identify workloads best suited for cloud storage, and define storage services and configurations needed to meet their required service levels.

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