The transcendence of Data Fabric

The Register wrote a damning piece about NetApp a few days ago. I felt it was irresponsible because this is akin to kicking a man when he’s down. It is easy to do that. The writer is clearly missing the forest for the trees. He was targeting NetApp’s Clustered Data ONTAP (cDOT) and missing the entire philosophy of NetApp’s mission and vision in Data Fabric.

I have always been a strong believer that you must treat Data like water. Just like what Jeff Goldblum famously quoted in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way“, data as it moves through its lifecycle, will find its way into the cloud and back.

And every storage vendor today has a cloud story to tell. It is exciting to listen to everyone sharing their cloud story. Cloud makes sense when it addresses different workloads such as the sharing of folders across multiple devices, backup and archiving data to the cloud, tiering to the cloud, and the different cloud service models of IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and XaaS.

But if we take a look at all these cloud offerings and also computing platforms in our own server room or in the data center, the on-premise infrastructure, the data landscape is NOT coherent. The data flow is not in harmony, and it is not congruent. If we imagine data as water, there is hindrance of data movement as it moves from one stage to another in the data lifecycle. This applies to almost every storage, system or cloud vendor today.

Even worse, organizations lose the control of the data along the way. When data moves out of an on-premise data center to the cloud, IT is almost passing off a large amount of control of their data to the cloud service provider.

Remember the Nirvanix story about 2 years ago? When Nirvanix went belly up, customers of theirs went to a panic mode. They were asked to remove their data within 2 weeks! One customer of Nirvanix had 20PB stored in the Nirvanix Storage Delivery Network. How the F do you think that customer would have felt in that whole Nirvanix fiasco?

This is exactly what I mean about losing control of data.

As Cloud Computing gains a much deeper foothold into IT, the data landscape does not change. The data lifecycle does not change. Data still moves from an active stage to a passive stage, and perhaps back to the active stage when needed. Along with the data movement though its lifecycle, the value of the data changes as well.

That is what the NetApp Data Fabric can do for data in any organizations. A single data management architecture that is able to have data transcend from on-premise data platforms on NetApp (or 3rd party platforms using NetApp FlexArray) to the data platforms on hybrid clouds in cloud service providers and on to the data platforms of hyperscalers, and back. All these data movement is secure, and more importantly, allows organizations to maintain control of their data, wherever it may be residing.

I have put my views of NetApp Data Fabric in the picture below (pardon my Powerpoint skillls).

NetApp Data Fabric

The underpinnings and foundation of the Data Fabric is NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP. And with the latest release of cDOT 8.3.1, the technology has reached an important milestone to realize the single data landscape architecture. 

Furthermore, I cannot recall at this moment of any storage vendor or cloud service provider adopting a philosophy like Data Fabric, which means that their customers would likely encounter hindrance of data as it moves through different premises or clouds. Just like water trapped in a watering hole, eventually it will dry up or become useless.

I am not trying deride the writer of the article, but instead of sensationalizing the NetApp story, perhaps it would be better to have a deeper understanding of where NetApp is now and where they are going. From the outside, they looked to be going through a rough patch right now, but as an ex-employee, NetApp has always been my little engine that could.

The intend of my response in this blog is really to help everyone open up their eyes because it is all about a single and secure data architecture. Clustered Data ONTAP happens to be the technology that makes this happens.

Remember … Data will find its way. There is no stopping that.

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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 30 years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because those are my areas of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to know the facts and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and between 2013-2015, I was SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently employed at iXsystems as their General Manager for Asia Pacific Japan.

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