The Role of Hardware in a Software World

By Ingo Fuchs, Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing, Data ONTAP


As data growth continues and IT shifts to a hybrid cloud (mix of an on premise, private cloud and public cloud infrastructure), CIOs and IT departments are finding themselves in a transition where they demand new technologies and services to make IT faster, cheaper, and smarter, and most importantly more responsive and more competitive. While software is more important than ever and viewed as the delivery vehicle of storage functionality, IT cannot forget that hardware is the means to scale storage performance and capacity. As IT transitions to the cloud, they also demand the infrastructure that can deliver the enterprise-level reliability and features they are accustomed to. Optimized hardware can be extensively tested to perform well for storage tasks and integrated into a single management framework to support your IT infrastructure. In addition, optimized hardware delivers greater reliability with fewer data copies, eliminating costs and complexity.


However, with new technologies like Software-Defined Storage (SDS), we are now allowing IT to break down the physical barriers that bind data to specific hardware, enable greater operational efficiency, greater availability and lower cost, while delivering the essential service, performance, capacity and reliability that enterprises rely on. We are giving customers the purchasing flexibility to choose the platforms that meet their needs, and have common software-defined storage capabilities across a wide range of platform choices. For example, NetApp’s Data ONTAP has been shipped on multiple hardware platforms for more than a decade becoming the #1 most deployed storage operating system.


In keeping with a true SDS model, NetApp ’s Data ONTAP is being deployed on a range of hardware options including:


  • NetApp’s optimized FAS systems, where customers benefit from highly tuned hardware and Flash integrations that let you manage hot data spikes, accelerate metadata, and do host-side data caching, through a NetApp server caching partner provider.
  • On controllers over other storage vendor systems through our FlexArray storage virtualization, software managed by Data ONTAP offering a greater return on investment while making legacy storage cloud-ready.
  • On commodity systems where a virtual storage appliance (VSA) is deployed with service providers such as Verizon Terremark
  • On an integrated NetApp and Cisco FlexPod system where like-minded best of breed players come together with integrated solutions that are easy to deploy.
  • Deployed in the cloud through NetApp private storage for Amazon Web Services.


By supporting a customer’s data in all these different hardware environments, NetApp provides uniform, reliable services that deliver the performance, capacity, reliability and capabilities that customers are used to whether it be on premise, private and/or public cloud.  Our technology spans more hardware types (and more cloud environments) so a customer can always have optimized data storage – with optimized services – no matter where they choose to store their data.