Data Fabric - joining the dots up between the clouds

 

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When I was a child my mother used to make the most amazing embroidery – intricate, beautifully crafted, colourful designs using a mixture of all sorts of interconnecting materials. I really didn’t imagine that all these years later we would be using the term ‘fabric’ to describe complex IT infrastructures. Enter, the ‘Data Fabric for the Hybrid Cloud’ – the concept of data portability through interconnecting private, public and hyperscale clouds all orchestrated through a single operating system. In other words woven together just like my mother’s embroidery.

For an increasing number of enterprise organisations hybrid cloud has become a crucial priority in accelerating innovation and making IT more efficient, agile and responsive to the ever changing needs of the business. On top of which, industry trends such as mobility, big-data/analytics, and the use of social media (both customer and partner usage) are conspiring to add complexity and drive up the need for more sophisticated and automated levels of data management.

The benefits of a ‘best of both worlds’ approach using hybrid cloud are compelling, but the issue is that managing data in a hybrid cloud architecture comes with its own set of requirements and challenges which today’s hybrid cloud solutions do not address.

That said, imagine a world where you have a set of software defined capabilities which are coordinated and distributed across a hybrid cloud architecture providing consistent and efficient management, access and movement of data. The benefits of such a system would allow businesses to control, integrate and more efficiently manage their data across a hybrid cloud environment. The good news is that NetApp recently launched their Data Fabric for Hybrid Cloud which addresses all these aspects which consists of the following main components: Data Management, Data Transport, Data Services.

So, let’s look at these areas in a bit more detail:

 

Data management - data centre.jpg Data Management:

 

Does what it says on the tin (to quote a well-known UK advertising phrase…), in that data management ensures the accessibility, reliability and timeliness of data to satisfy the needs of data users. At a more technical level it includes: namespace management, data security, authentication and access control, locking, snapshots/versioning/ cloning, disaster protection/failover/failback and audit/compliance.

 

trucks.jpg  Data Transport:

 

Provides consistent and efficient movement of data across virtualized systems within the hybrid cloud environment, which could involve capabilities such as data replication, data migration and data tiering.

 

NetApp with arrows.jpg  Data Services:

In this context, the term data services refers to home-spun NetApp and partner-delivered capabilities that provide access to and derive value from the data resident in the data fabric which are enabled through open interfaces and native integration into the NetApp Data Fabric. Such services could include: data protection from partners like Symantec or CommVault, multi-protocol data access, monitoring, billing, chargeback, analytics, application integration, governance, risk and compliance management.

Having described the components of the NetApp Data Fabric, now let’s turn our attention to some of the benefits:

  • Control and Choice: Enables customers to control their data and have Choice of their Cloud
  • Improved Efficiency: allows organisations to exploit existing processes and skills to manage data on the hybrid cloud while taking advantage of the flexibility, cost and efficiency benefits that the cloud provides
  • Accelerate Innovation and Time to Revenue/Service: Allows service providers and end-user organisations to focus on value, innovation and new capabilities

 

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Now that we’ve outlined some of the benefits, what should organisations look out for before embarking on their journey to the hybrid cloud? In a nutshell - select a global, established storage infrastructure and management provider that offers data portability across multiple clouds and as much choice in the cloud as possible from an independent partner ecosystem of specialized and hyperscale service providers. By going this route options are then left open as the business and technology changes over time.

So, just like my mother’s embroidery which took time, care and attention it’s well worth doing the same when moving to the next stage of one’s journey to the hybrid cloud. Done right, the cloud offers huge incremental benefits in business agility, IT flexibility and potentially lower costs – done wrong it can end up adding complexity, risk and could even cost more instead of saving money.

For more nformation about recent releases and associated blogs please see links below:

Data ONTAP 8.3 - http://www.netapp.com/us/products/platform-os/data-ontap-8/index.aspx

Press Release - http://www.netapp.com/us/company/news/press-releases/news-rel-20141028-186087.aspx

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