The trouble most people have with understanding Data Fabric is that it’s not a product that you can just go out and buy. It’s NetApp’s answer to the future of IT. It’s a way of using a wide portfolio of products to enable continuous data availability across multiple on-premises and cloud platforms.
But the real value of data fabric is it provides a platform for transforming your business
While it’s not as simple or easily measurable as just expanding your bottom line, the real value of a Data Fabric is its power to transform your business.
I typically hear four questions about the value of a Data Fabric:
- How can it change how I utilise my infrastructure?
- How can it help me use my resources better?
- How can it help me use my data more efficiently?
- How can it help my business make money?
How can Data Fabric change how I utilise my infrastructure?
Whether you’re an existing NetApp customer with a data centre full of NetApp kit or not, the NetApp Data Fabric can help you get more out of your IT infrastructure.
Let’s say your business has a new requirement to provide backup, test and development in the cloud, but you don’t want to have a large admin team to manage all the different tools or equipment required to deliver this solution. So you need to make sure the solution is easy to manage, with full choice and control over your data.
You can build a data fabric to address these challenges and I don’t mean by some “one-size-fits-all” compromise either. I can think of three data fabric components that we can use to meet our needs: FlexArray, ONTAP Cloud, and AltaVault.
FlexArray would provide you with the capabilities to sweat the assets you already have, so you wouldn’t need to replace all your existing storage. In fact, if you wanted to keep it, you could use FlexArray to repurpose it to run ONTAP. This gives your existing storage and all the efficiency benefits of ONTAP
ONTAP Cloud now thinks about having on premises efficiency and control but in the cloud. With ONTAP Cloud you are able to replicate data from your onsite ONTAP array out into AWS or Azure. In an instance, it can provide a test and Dev environment without having to pay for hardware and enables you to operationally scale.
AltaVault provides you with end-to-end efficiency and security when moving data to the cloud. It supports all leading backup and archive software, giving you flexibility and choice to fit it into your existing infrastructure without compromise. It can be deployed as a physical, virtual, or cloud-based solution. In less than 30 minutes, you can be backing up your data from any of your on-premises environments to the cloud of your choice.
How can Data Fabric help me use my resources better?
The Data Fabric gives you choice without sacrificing control of your data. This is key to a successful IT strategy. Forget about trying to predict what you’re going to do in 3-5 years. Think about how your decisions can change your business today. With NetApp Data Fabric and the technologies that enable it, you can buy for what you need today and scale for what you need tomorrow. Your infrastructure is agile and adaptable to your dynamic business requirements.
How can Data Fabric help me use my data more efficiently?
ONTAP 9 is the pinnacle of NetApp’s quarter century of innovation and is at the very heart of NetApp’s data fabric strategy.
NetApp continues to build capabilities into the platform to ensure that your key data assets are not only stored efficiently but are highly available, protected and secured.
However, the true power of ONTAP is in its flexibility, the ability to not only run ONTAP on “traditional” physical controllers, but also as a software defined option with ONTAP Select or in the public cloud with ONTAP cloud, means not only can ONTAP allow us to seamlessly move data between storage tiers and controllers, but between virtual appliances and cloud providers to. All of this while maintaining all the same capabilities you expect on-premises meaning your data management, protection, security and analytics tools work in exactly the same way, regardless of ONTAP’s location.
Add to that NetApp’s desire to allow the ability to mirror data between any platform in its portfolio via SnapMirror to Anywhere technology, then you can see how your data fabric can take shape.
How can Data Fabric help my business make money?
A good portion of our IT budgets is probably spent just keeping the lights on. How much do you actually spend on development that moves the business forward?
A couple of months ago, a customer approached me to build an infrastructure that gives them the ability to run their business for peak workloads during heavy sales periods during the last three months of the year.
They wanted a virtualisation environment with a storage platform to run the required 200 servers during these peak times. The rest of the year, the environment runs at 50% of the peak workload (only having to run 100 servers). If this was a fixed, CapEx-based infrastructure, they would have unused equipment sitting around for most of the year. Over a three-year contract, that’s 27 months of wasted investment.
With a Data Fabric, we allowed them to achieve the same capabilities at a much lower cost. We started by deploying a virtualized flash platform on premises to account for standard workload and capacity requirements. While that flash platform may be able to cope with some of the burst that’s required as the business ramps up to its busy time, that’s not the only requirement. Compute and possibly additional storage may be needed for the extra 100 VMs.
A Data Fabric allowed us to use a hybrid cloud solution to address this challenge. By using ONTAP Cloud, we could seamlessly move data between the on-premises kit and either AWS or Azure.
Our fabric strategy also had the flexibility, if needed, to use a NetApp Private Storage (NPS) solution, allowing you to keep your data on your own NetApp systems for constant, guaranteed performance, whilst using your choice of public cloud providers for computing. This solution gives you the ability to scale up or down on demand and only pay for what you need when you need it, saving you that capital expenditure.
If you’ve been asking yourself, “What does Data Fabric mean for me and my business?” you’re not alone. Data Fabric is NetApp’s vision for the future of IT, and the benefits to your business both now and in the future are unmatched in the industry. I have spoken to a lot of customers over the past year and one thing I have learned is that the Data Fabric can help you solve your business challenges today and in the future so…
What are you waiting for?
Author: Mark Carlton, Group Technical Services Manager