NetApp is Finally Making the Data Fabric Real


Since Insight Berlin is  now done and several of my fellow A-Team’ers have already done their own “Insight wrap-up” blogs, and you can check them out for a detailed run down of all the awesome stuff that NetApp is coming out with in the next year, I figured I should get mine done as well (posts from @mcbride_ruairi and @NFSDudeAbides to start you off). While all that stuff is really cool (ONTAP 9, new All Flash FAS, etc.), what was the most inspiring for me from this year’s conference is how NetApp is bringing the “vision” of the Data Fabric to life with a couple of key advancements.

Flash (and ONTAP) Everywhere

Since 2014, when George Kurian announced the Data Fabric on stage at Insight, NetApp has really pushed its flash portfolio in new directions. The subsequent acquisition of SolidFire has bolstered NetApp’s position in the market, while giving customers more options and improved capabilities for deploying flash in their data centers. This year, George set the goal (albeit a bit lofty) of being the number one flash vendor in the world, and with that attitude and the right strategy, they seem like they’re on their way.

Of course, the big to-do around flash this year at Insight was the refresh of the All Flash FAS line of storage systems. It was the biggest hardware refresh in NetApp’s history, with the introduction of the new FAS2600 and FAS8200 lines as well as the new AFF A300 and AFF A700 systems. Along with this comes 32Gb Fibre Channel and 40Gb Ethernet, which is a first for the SAN world and helps position the storage better for flash.

But instead of these announcements just being the shiny new toys for engineers to ooh and ah over, NetApp brought them to market with the strategic intent to help customers access their data anywhere. The importance of data was a central element throughout the conference, with the “data is the currency of the digital economy” message resonating loud and clear. One of my favorite quotes from the event was, “[In the past,] data was just there to run your business. Now data is your business.”

With the increased capabilities and applicability of flash comes the more pronounced ubiquity of ONTAP in the Data Fabric. NetApp’s strategy has always been to help customers move and utilize data where it can deliver the most value to them, and this year they are making some big strides in that direction. Tools like Flash Cache, Flash Pool, SnapMirror, SnapVault, and others are being expanded across the portfolio to deliver a seamless data management experience.

Another cool piece of software that they’re bringing out is called Cloud Control, which enables you to back up your data that resides with SaaS providers within SnapCenter, things like Office 365, with support for other SaaS providers to come. They showcased a pretty fancy-looking SnapCenter with cataloguing and all sorts of other cool features to help you manage cloud data like you would your on-premises storage. SnapCenter is currently free, but with how cool Cloud Control is gonna be, I honestly have no idea why they wouldn’t want to monetize it.

Renewed Focus on Developers, a Sign of Greatness to Come

This idea of an open, flexible, and secure ecosystem for your data is only going to get more crystalized as time goes on. Something that my fellow A-Teamer Jesse Anderson blogged about a while back that struck me as well was NetApp’s focus on the developer at Insight. I think it’s a sign of a cultural shift that will only further enable the Data Fabric. The introduction of thePub, this place where developers can coalesce and share ideas to make the Data Fabric better, is a huge step in the right direction as far as I’m concerned.

I’m really excited to see what that future has in store for NetApp and the Data Fabric. See you next year!

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