Amazon AWS and NetApp – Providing Proven Paths to Cloud Storage

A guest blog post by David McLaughlin, CEO, Blue River Information Technology. This blog was originally posted on GovDataDownload.

Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post newspaper has produced a lot of media reaction, some of it focused on Amazon, the company he founded in 1994. While Bezos purchased the paper as an individual and not through Amazon, the move can’t help but make Amazon a bigger presence in the nation’s capital.

Amazon and other Internet giants like Google have leveraged the infrastructures they set up for their initial businesses – in Google’s case to support their keyword based advertising, and in Amazon’s to support their leading ecommerce offering – to create new businesses. With Amazon, this is to offer reliable and scalable cloud services to government, commercial and consumers.

If you’re a federal IT professional you are probably well aware of Amazon’s highly successful, cloud-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solution that provisions compute and storage resources on demand. There are many potential advantages to this new computing model for IT departments: it allows them to be more responsive to their organization’s requirements – more agile and flexible.

New projects can be up and running immediately – no more waiting for funding and then procuring and deploying the systems. No more redundant equipment when a short term project is finished and the systems are no longer needed. And it’s an Opex model – avoiding those large, up-front capital outlays.

That’s all good, but a move to cloud is not always as simple as it is sometimes portrayed. For most federal agencies, it is more than Internet access and a credit card.


Federal agencies have developed their existing on-premise infrastructures based on their requirements.   In addition to the functionality they needed in their applications and tools, they considered things like data security, protection, compliance, management capabilities, SLAs with their user departments etc. When moving to cloud, the same considerations apply – so understanding what the cloud provider offers is critical and understanding how to leverage the existing investment is no less important.

While Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to gain momentum with its public cloud offering, another company has become a leading technology provider for the on-premise/private cloud model.  NetApp has played a major part in the success of agencies’ efforts to build their own cloud environments.

There’s a lot to consider when moving to cloud. For example, how do you manage, secure and protect your data? How do you integrate the cloud and on-premise environments? How do admins manage it? What about sensitive data, performance, etc.?

My firm has been working closely with AWS for two years and with NetApp for far longer. We’ve learned a lot over that time crafting successful deployments that offer the best of both worlds. At a high level, what we do with customers using NetApp is to create a private cloud environment at a highly secure Equinix facility that is co-located right next to one of AWS’ main centers.

The customer’s data is stored on NetApp storage systems – which can be their own, or they can use a service where we provide and manage them. NetApp functionality is the same as in their on-premise data center, managed by the same administrators. There is a high speed direct connection between the NetApp Private Cloud at Equinix and the AWS center. NetApp’s SnapManager is used to replicate data between the on-premise and private cloud environments.

Once this is set up, it creates a seamless, hybrid cloud/on-premise infrastructure. Data in the NetApp Private Cloud can utilize AWS compute resources creating a platform that can be used, for example, for disaster recovery, dev/test, backup, running applications and archiving to AWS low cost storage.

Moving to the cloud is a big decision. Make sure you’re leveraging a proven path and the right partners to do it right.

David McLaughlin, CEO, Blue River Information Technology

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