By Dr. Mark Bregman, SVP & Chief Technology Officer, NetApp
A dominant meme at NetApp Insight 2016 is the reality that data is the currency of the digital economy. For any business in any industry, data has become integral to running the business and creating value for customers.
It’s now one year – almost to the day – since I joined NetApp. A year before that, George Kurian introduced Data Fabric, NetApp’s vision for the future of data management. At last year’s Insight we shared how customers and partners were deriving real business value from it. Today, I shared our vision for what’s next for Data Fabric: what we’re calling the Data Fabric Platform.
No matter how IT evolves over time, or what new innovations arise, our customers’ data management needs and concerns remain consistent. They need to know where their data is and whether it complies with policies and regulations, particularly around data security and privacy. They want to be able to move data easily in a heterogeneous and hybrid cloud world and know that it’s protected no matter what architecture is used. Perhaps most importantly, they need to maximize the value of their data to transform IT for success in the digital economy.
We believe these needs and concerns will be best addressed through the delivery of services across a wide range of resources. The universe of services customers need today and will need tomorrow is so large that no single vendor could efficiently – or feasibly – build and deliver them. Meeting this critical need calls for a platform and an ecosystem, what NetApp is calling the Data Fabric Platform.
We envision that the Data Fabric Platform will provide a consistent data management architecture and enable service delivery and agile development for the partner ecosystem. Partners will bring value to customers through interoperable and integrated capabilities that will encompass the variety of developers, applications, and services that have grown out of platforms like Windows, iOS, and Android.
A platform architecture has intrinsic value because of its ability to integrate and simplify the delivery of services. Partners will be able to develop new services to address very specific needs and they’ll be able to do so very efficiently. Customers will have ready access to those services with the confidence that they’ll simply work. They won’t have to spend time and resources worrying about them or maintaining them.
The Data Fabric evolution to a platform is in its nascent stage. At Insight, we showed new capabilities and services that leverage NetApp and cloud endpoints, including a Data Fabric solution for backup, a Data Fabric service for SaaS, and Cloud Sync, which is available now through Amazon and provides an automated way to sync customer data with AWS S3 and run a choice of desired data analytics services in the cloud. NetApp and a number of our ecosystem partners have started the process of identifying and developing data applications and services. Partners featured at Insight who have embraced the Data Fabric Platform vision include RedHat, SoftLayer, Varonis, Zaloni, and others.
Our approach to the development of the platform is to identify initial capabilities that will leverage the endpoints we have today. We’re also committing from day one to be heterogeneous and leverage other vendor storage endpoints. We’ll be making available a set of APIs that partners can use to tie into the platform and access capabilities. As we discover more value-add applications to build in this way – and engage with more partners to build these services – we'll be identifying reusable components that will become the core of our platform.
NetApp and its partner ecosystem are continually integrating new data services into the Data Fabric. As we get deeper into building the Data Fabric Platform, we foresee that ecosystem expanding to include more partners and even some of our customers – all developing purpose-built services and deploying them on an open data management platform: the Data Fabric Platform.
For more details on the Data Fabric architecture and use cases, read the newly updated Data Fabric technical white paper.