NetApp launches cloud version of its ONTAP operating system

NetApp will offer its popular storage operating system on top of Amazon Web Services as well as under a licensing model. The aim: Make moving data from public to private clouds easier.

NetApp on Tuesday launched a cloud-based version of its ONTAP storage operating system as the headliner of a series of offerings designed to simplify hybrid deployments. With the move, NetApp is setting itself up to be more of a neutral software-provider as data shuttles between enterprise data center and the public cloud.

The news, announced at NetApp's Insight conference in Las Vegas, gives customers of the storage vendor two ways to consume ONTAP---as a service on top of Amazon Web Services infrastructure for $5 an hour or as a license.

George Kurian, executive vice president of product operations at NetApp argued that current hybrid cloud deployments have been hampered by data silos that don't interoperate well. "That's a big issue since the amount of data in the hybrid cloud will double in the next 18 months," said Kurian.

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NetApp has a good shot to be an independent data management software provider. NetApp doesn't have its own stack to sell, isn't aligned with a hypervisor and doesn't have plans to be a public cloud provider.

Kurian said that Cloud ONTAP will have the same architecture, data formats and snapshots as the on-premise version of the operating system so customers can move from public and private cloud resources.

For NetApp, the main play is to become the fabric that knits together private and public cloud compute. Although the bulk of NetApp's revenue is hardware, software is a key component of the business. Most of NetApp's hybrid cloud vision revolves around software and various partnerships with enterprise vendors and service providers.

The key components of NetApp's fabric beyond Cloud ONTAP include:

  • Clustered Data ONTAP 8.3, a software defined storage operating system that supports NetApp's disaster recovery software and all-flash nodes and improves efficiency.
  • OnCommand Cloud Manager, a tool to provision instances between private and public cloud providers.
  • NetApp Private Storage for Cloud. NetApp's private storage works with Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and now IBM's SoftLayer unit.
  • The company also rolled out various services for hybrid deployments.

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