Over the last decade, our industry witnessed one of the fastest paradigm shifts it has ever seen. The advent and subsequent rise in adoption of cloud services set the direction for innovation amongst the community of manufacturers that traditionally grew their business in the data center.
It's easy to understand why customers adopted the cloud model, especially when thinking about the startup community. During the late 1990's Internet boom, if you wanted to start a company, you undeniably had to invest substantial capital in IT infrastructure, as well as in Internet connectivity to develop and run your application.
Even up until the birth of cloud services, if you were "victim" of a wildly successful marketing campaign and needed more resources to run your application, you would have had to justify, acquire and install the infrastructure required to accommodate the increased traffic, and by then the moment might very well have come and gone already.
The impact of cloud services
In today's cloud world, more resources are available to you with a few mouse clicks or REST API calls. For the Infrastructure as a Service consumer, it's a simple matter of stamping a CloudFormation template to deliver more capacity. For the Platform as a Service consumer, this isn't even a concern. Platform services provide the benefit of infrastructure abstraction while delivering linear scalability.
We tend to see very little overlap between customers using IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. Typically, the IaaS consumer is the traditional data center infrastructure engineers managing resources (virtual machines, containers, network, storage, security policies, etc). When we look at PaaS consumers, we tend to find software developers wanting access to services like database instances, serverless functions, pub/sub messaging, data streaming services, etc., where they don't have to even think about the underlying infrastructure.
Lastly, the SaaS consumer today is every single individual. We can characterize the SaaS consumer as "the user": everybody using salesforce.com or Microsoft Office 365, OneDrive, etc. I make the distinction here, because that's how I like to think about NetApp's cloud data services.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Since NetApp found it's roots in the data center, it's only normal that their broadest category of services be under the IaaS category. NetApp's developed a number of different offerings that help extend data center capabilities to the cloud by enabling them to deliver the same experience, both from a management and a data services standpoint. As part of this category, we include Cloud Volumes ONTAP (CVO) for AWS, Azure and GCP, Cloud Sync, Cloud Tiering, Cloud Backup Service, Cloud Compliance, Cloud Insights, Global File Cache and Cloud Manager.
Cloud Volumes ONTAP: CVO is a file and block (CIFS/NFS/Multiprotocol/iSCSI) ONTAP virtual appliance that runs natively in the cloud. It leverages cloud storage and compute to deliver an equivalent data management and data services experience. This allows customers to retain every feature they use on-premise (snapshots, flexclones, fabricpool, deduplication, compression, etc.) with NetApp once their data is in the cloud. This is most commonly used for customers looking at doing disaster recovery as a service.
Cloud Sync: In the context of IaaS, Cloud Sync enables customers to migrate data easily and efficiently in and out of the cloud. This data migration service supports CIFS, NFS and S3 as source and/or target (such as NFS->S3 or vice versa). Cloud Sync leverages parallel synchronization to get best in class throughput and allows for pause, restart and incremental synchronization.
Cloud Tiering: Also known as fabric pool, Cloud Tiering enables its users to take inactive data from an active filesystem and tier the parts of that data that haven't been used in a user defined amount of time over to an object storage (be it a public cloud service provider or an on-premise appliance) while keeping the data accessible natively in the original namespace.
Cloud Backup Service: Cloud Backup is a service that is fully integrated with CVO and will enable customers to natively backup data from CVO to an object storage platform.
Cloud Compliance: Cloud Compliance is an AI-based service that will analyze data stored in an instance of CVO or Azure NetApp Files (ANF) and identify PII data such as credit cards, social security numbers and many other type of information that would breach regulatory compliance.
Cloud Insights: Cloud Insights is a cloud-based infrastructure management and optimization tool based on NetApp's OnCommand Insight tool. Cloud Insights can monitor and report on cloud IaaS as well as on-premise heterogeneous infrastructure assets. It can advise on over- and under-utilized resources and correlate over-utilized components to reduce troubleshooting and outage times.
Global File Cache: Global File Cache is the latest of NetApp's cloud data service. It is rooted in the acquisition of Talon and in the context of IaaS, provides edge file caching for a global namespace. What this means is it's meant to accelerate file shares in location where bandwidth is limited while preserving file locking and avoiding having multiple disparate copies of documents. This service can come in handy with remote locations or cloud VDIs in different regions accessing the same document share.
Cloud Manager: Cloud Manager is a service that enables its user to easily deploy and manage multiple instances of Cloud Volumes ONTAP (CVO) across different service providers and different geographies.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
In the world of platform services, infrastructure needs to be transparent. Consumers of platform services don't really want to have to worry about the infrastructure, the scalability, performance tuning or any aspect that defines what an infrastructure engineer's typical work. The platform cloud data services that fall under the platform category at NetApp are meant to cater the needs of application developers. Categorized as PaaS services, you will find Cloud Volumes Services (for AWS and GCP), Azure NetApp files, Cloud Sync and Cloud Compliance.
Cloud Volumes Services (CVS) / Azure NetApp Files (ANF): CVS's basic functionality is to provide persistent storage via NFS or CIFS. That storage can be used for a multitude of use cases but is particularly useful for container persistent storage. CVS and ANF can also provide users with instant clones of data sets. This can be very helpful when wanting to test new code against a large production data set. CVS and ANF also provide users with a Service Level Objective (SLO) as it pertains to performance.
Cloud Sync: Cloud Sync can enable data synchronization between a source and a destination, which is helpful for the creation of data pipelines. For example, if we have data being generated in remote offices or manufacturing plants that needs to be sent out to the cloud for aggregation and correlation, Cloud Sync can incrementally transfer any changes to the source data at a given interval. If you happen to have 100 manufacturing plants where pictures were taken of parts being weld together and those pictures resided on CIFS or NFS share in the plant, you could use a service like Cloud Sync to manage the centralization of that data to an S3 bucket in AWS on an hourly basis.
Cloud Compliance: Cloud Compliance is an AI-based service that will analyze data being stored on ANF (or other sources) and report on the presence of PII information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
In the Software as a Service space, NetApp only offers a single service: NetApp SaaS backup. SaaS backup was designed to provide the ability to create a data protection scheme around Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce.com in the same fashion you could with on-premise apps in the data center. This enables users of SaaS backup to meet specific recovery point objectives for compliance. This can be helpful to mitigate events such as users inadvertently purging their own data, insider threats or even ransomware attacks.
NetApp cloud data services in the wild
Over the last 12-18 months we've seen a ramp up in utilization of NetApp's cloud data services with our customers. At first, with a very limited number of use cases and more recently, a much wider variety of uses. Initially we saw an adoption of Cloud Volumes ONTAP for the specific use of disaster recovery to the cloud.
A number of customers pictured CVO as a means of achieving a cost efficient disaster recovery strategy in areas of their business where they couldn't justify disaster recovery in the past. Most recently, we've worked with customers over a number of common use cases that are leveraged as a complimentary service bundle or à la carte such as:
- Replication as a Service (Cloud Sync) for workload migrations from existing data centers to the cloud and infrastructure monitoring of both environments (Cloud Insights);
- high throughput Storage as a Service (Cloud Volumes Service) for big data, AI and ML workloads;
- optimization of their all-flash footprint by tiering cold data to object storage (Cloud Tiering) and monitoring application performance (Cloud Insights); and
- extending their private cloud data to one or more of the big three hyperscalers (Cloud Volumes ONTAP), along with additional insights into overall infrastructure footprint and performance (Cloud Insights).
Albeit a very recent addition to the portfolio, we see great potential in NetApp's Cloud Compliance product. We've heard from many customers over time that are concerned with storing their data in the cloud because of their inability to identify potential customer data. We strongly believe that cloud compliance will change the landscape of those conversations in the future.
If your organization is facing data management challenges as they are extending their capabilities out to the cloud, reach out to our team of experts. Whether it's for technology exploration or a workshop to address a specific problem, we can help.