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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 1990s 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 a "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 engineer 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, Microsoft Office 365, OneDrive, etc. We make the distinction here because that's how we like to think about NetApp's cloud data services. 

It is worth noting that as of November 2022, NetApp's portfolio of cloud data services has gone through a brand change. Prior to November 2022, the entire NetApp cloud data services portfolio could be classified as "NetApp Cloud". With the branding changes these same portfolio services technically function the same as before, but they are now named "NetApp BlueXP". The transition to the BlueXP naming convention helps highlight the unified management platform where all NetApp cloud data services are deployed, managed, and modified.

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Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Since NetApp found its roots in the data center, it's only normal that its broadest category of services is 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, BlueXP Copy and Sync (formerly Cloud Sync), BlueXP Tiering (formerly Cloud Tiering), BlueXP Backup and Recovery (formerly Cloud Backup), BlueXP Classification (formerly Cloud Data Sense), BlueXP Observability (formerly Cloud Insights), BlueXP Edge Caching (formerly Global File Cache), and BlueXP (formerly 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, tiering, 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.

BlueXP Copy and Sync (formerly Cloud Sync): In the context of IaaS, Copy and 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). Copy and Sync leverages parallel synchronization to get best-in-class throughput and allow for pause, restart, and incremental synchronization.

BlueXP Tiering (formerly Cloud Tiering): Also known as FabricPool, 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.

BlueXP Backup and Recovery (formerly Cloud Backup): Backup and Recovery is a service that is fully integrated with CVO and will enable customers to natively back up data from CVO to an object storage platform. Plus, Backup and Recovery holds a fully searchable cataloged database in order to enable individual file restores that are housed within your ONTAP backups. Backup and Recovery works with any storage environment that is based on NetApp ONTAP (CVO, OnPrem, FSx for ONTAP, etc.).

BlueXP Classification (formerly Cloud Data Sense): Classification 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 types of information that would breach regulatory compliance.

BlueXP Observability (formerly Cloud Insights): Observability is a cloud-based infrastructure management and optimization tool based on NetApp's OnCommand Insight tool. Observability 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.

BlueXP Edge Caching (formerly Global File Cache): Edge Caching 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 locations 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.

BlueXP (formerly Cloud Manager): BlueXP 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. BlueXP should be considered the go-forward location for any development and unified management capabilities specifically for ALL of NetApp's cloud data services.

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, scalability, performance tuning, or any aspect that defines an infrastructure engineer's typical work. The platform cloud data services that fall under the platform category at NetApp are meant to cater to the needs of application developers. Categorized as PaaS services, you will find Cloud Volumes Services (for AWS and GCP), AWS FSx for ONTAP, Azure NetApp Files, Copy and Sync, and Classification.

AWS FSx for ONTAP: FSx for ONTAP is a fully-managed service, managed by AWS, that provides highly reliable, scalable, high-performing, and feature-rich file storage built on NetApp's ONTAP file system. FSx for ONTAP combines the familiar features, performance, capabilities, and API operations of NetApp file systems with the agility, scalability, and simplicity of a fully managed AWS service. If you are a customer and you want the same feature-rich components of ONTAP you have OnPrem, but you don't want to manage the cluster or the physical array, then FSx for ONTAP is exactly what you need. Also, if you have an enterprise discount agreement (EDP) with AWS, FSx for ONTAP would draw from your EDP at 100%.

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.

BlueXP Copy and Sync (formerly Cloud Sync): Copy and 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 need 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 welded 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.

BlueXP Classification (formerly Cloud Data Sense): 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 few options. The first is the NetApp BlueXP environment. BlueXP is built on NetApp's domain and can be fully accessed via a web-based environment, wholly owned and managed by NetApp. There are components within BlueXP that would not be considered SaaS, but the environment itself is definitely SaaS. 

The second is NetApp Astra Control Service. Astra is built off the NetApp CSI technology known as Trident. Specifically, Astra Control Service is a NetApp-managed service that provides application-aware data management of Kubernetes clusters in multiple cloud provider environments, as well as self-managed Kubernetes clusters. The features of Astra include the ability to provide automated persistent storage management with Netapp Trident, application-aware snapshots and backups on-demand and scheduled, migration and cloning capabilities specifically for applications in your Kubernetes clusters, and managed via a NetApp-hosted UI and API to automate your application management.

NetApp BlueXP cloud data services in the wild…

Over the last few years, we've seen a ramp-up in the 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 the adoption of Cloud Volumes ONTAP for the specific use of disaster recovery in the cloud. Plus, the adoption of FSx for ONTAP as a native datastore option for VMware Cloud on AWS. 

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 (Copy and Sync) for workload migrations from existing data centers to the cloud and infrastructure monitoring of both environments (BlueXP Observability)
  • 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 (BlueXP Tiering) and monitoring application performance (BlueXP Observability)
  • 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 (BlueXP Observability).

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 its 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.