[Preamble: I have been invited by GestaltIT as a delegate to their Tech Field Day for Storage Field Day 18 from Feb 27-Mar 1, 2019 in the Silicon Valley USA. My expenses, travel and accommodation were covered by GestaltIT, the organizer and I was not obligated to blog or promote their technologies presented at this event. The content of this blog is of my own opinions and views]
The NetApp Data Fabric Vision
The NetApp Data Fabric vision has always been clear to me. Maybe it was because of my 2 stints with them, and I got well soaked in their culture. 3 simple points define the vision.
- The Data Fabric is THE data singularity. Data can be anywhere – on-premises, the clouds, and more.
- Have bridges, paths and workflows management to the Data, to move the data to wherever the data may be.
- Work with technology partners to build tools and data systems to elevate the value of the data
That is how I see it. I wrote about the Transcendence of the Data Fabric vision 3+ years ago, and I emphasized the importance of the Data Pipeline in another NetApp blog almost a year ago. The introduction of NetApp Data Availability Services (NDAS) in the recently concluded Storage Field Day 18 was no different as NetApp constructs data bridges and paths to the AWS Cloud.
NetApp Data Availability Services
The NDAS feature is only available with ONTAP 9.5. With less than 5 clicks, data from ONTAP primary systems can be backed up to the secondary ONTAP target (running the NDAS proxy and the Copy to Cloud API), and then to AWS S3 buckets in the cloud.
The NDAS setup and admin interface is targeted to the IT generalist. In a lot of IT shops, simplicity and agility matter, and most just want the data to be protected, albeit to the secondary target or the cloud. A simple, browser-based UI is all that is needed to setup the backup policies of the data volumes to be backed up. The data transfer between NDAS target and the AWS cloud is TLS (Transport Layer Security) secured.
As the data is backed up to AWS cloud, a Backup Catalog is created in AWS. This catalog holds the metadata of the files ingested to the AWS cloud (or should I say backed up) and has search and browse capabilities for granular file recovery back to the primary ONTAP systems.
But the power of NDAS lies beyond ordinary backup and restore of on-premises data and the AWS cloud. The integration of the backup catalog with AWS ElasticSearch, and I presume ELK (ElasticSearch, LogStash and Kibana) integration as well, enhances the value of the data in the secondary data repository. This secondary data repository has been an extremely hot market, led by unicorns like Cohesity and Rubrik. NetApp would not miss the opportunity to extract more value of the secondary data set, and they shared their future roadmap below:
Leveraging on the smorgasbord of services in AWS cloud, future apps such as Analytics, Test/Dev, Burst Apps and Compliance to integrate with the NDAS backup catalog are in the cards, along with future backup sources and data protection workflows.
I have not followed the NetApp progress to the cloud in the recent couple of years. Much have changed and most Tech Field Day sessions were on a specific NetApp technology or product set. So, I can’t really say where NetApp AltaVault is now but NDAS does bring some thoughts about AltaVault. From the looks of things, the product is gone. Newer upstarts such as Cohesity has usurped the legacy backup software, and NetApp might want to consider following that path to define a new architecture for data protection.
A ‘more’ consistent Data Protection architecture?
I may be very wrong in saying this. I have not followed NetApp’s data protection portfolio for a while, but I find that their data protection efforts have not been in full force. A more comprehensive and consistent data protection architecture is what I am looking from NetApp, where it is more inclusive both for themselves and for their partners.
The NDAS solution obviously is a step in the right direction. We are beginning to see that there is ‘gold’ in secondary data, and NetApp should take advantage of that. After all, their installed base of filers over the past 2 1/2 decades is massive. And it also time to extend the NDAS capabilities to the edge as well, into ROBO (remote office branch office). SnapMirror direct to the cloud rather than the NDAS proxy.
Maybe there should be more engagement with NetApp to really understand their overall vision, not just the roadmap.
A step in the right direction
I don’t see many storage vendors coming out with something similar to NDAS, maybe with exception of Pure Storage. So it is definitely a right move for NetApp to extend its technology with AWS. I expect this them to grow into Google Cloud and Azure patches as well.
Hopefully, we can continue to have a conversation and see the progress of NDAS, and not leaving it to walk the path of AltaVault. Good luck!