How to Maximize IT Agility & Flexibility with Data Fabric

 By Mark Carlton, Group Technical Services Manager, Concorde Technology Group, NetApp A-Team member


In my previous blog, I talked about how NetApp can help you reign in budgets while consolidating your infrastructure footprint. Continuing with my discussion on the top five challenges of 21st century IT, I want to touch on another headline issue for many customers I encounter on a daily basis: maximizing agility and flexibility.


Getting the Most Out of Your Data: A Timeless Challenge

Agility and flexibility are two of the key value points that NetApp is emphasizing with the Data Fabric. Now more than ever, there’s an increasingly high demand for the IT department to be agile. Whether their data is on premises or in private, public, or hybrid clouds, customers want to be able to access it in a single namespace and derive value from it faster. It’s a challenge that I’ve been familiar with for a very long time.


In my previous life, I was a senior IT engineer for a steel and materials company based in the U.K. We had terabytes of data coming in from hundreds of different endpoints throughout each plant, and all of that data needed to be analyzed and leveraged to make real-time business decisions. But when those decisions were made, we no longer needed that data (or the storage), so it was just deleted, and the storage went unused until a couple of months later when the process started all over again. We didn’t have the ability to add or change on the fly, which meant if you needed a new report or an environment, it could be weeks to get it up and running.


And of course, if any element of that IT infrastructure went down for any reason, that could mean shutting down the whole plant affected—or worse. If our analytics went down, then the materials weren’t being tested or approved to move on to the next stage in production, and next thing you know, something heads down to the furnace that wasn’t supposed to. That’s an outage with explosive ramifications to the business. Literally.


If you’re thinking to yourself, “There’s got to be a better way,” trust me, so was I. Of course now, with Data Fabric, the game has changed.


For customers, the Data Fabric provides choice, control, and flexibility over your data. Instead of relying on data coming in from disparate endpoints and silos, you now have the ability to unify remote locations, production hubs, and disaster recovery locations all within your Data Fabric. In my previous job, a Data Fabric could have made a huge difference. Using software-defined capabilities of ONTAP Select, ONTAP Cloud for remote sites, and All Flash FAS for performance, we could have created a unified infrastructure so that we never had to worry about our data not being available. Instead of taking hours to run separate reports, adding weeks of runtime to month-end reports, or delivering on-demand infrastructure for the business when they needed, all these challenges can be delivered in one solution from today’s NetApp portfolio.


It’s that ability to access your data across all of your geographically dispersed resources that businesses need today. Companies are starting to understand why it’s important to be agile, and they understand that extracting the value of data is key to achieving future success.


NetApp’s Data Fabric is about providing choice to customers, focusing on the data and what you can do with it, not about the storage it’s on. Where maybe a year ago, we were starting with the Data Fabric conversation then bringing it down to the product level, today, NetApp has inverted that messaging: how can you unify the infrastructure you have to take full advantage of your data? Of course for folks with NetApp already in their data centers, this is a simpler proposition. But with products like ONTAP Select, it’s easier than ever to realize the benefits of ONTAP software on whatever storage you have in your infrastructure. For private, public, or hybrid cloud, NetApp gives you the flexibility to provide services in the way your end users and customers demand, with the ability to scale as your needs change. With a common set of data management services across your Data Fabric, you get the agility to deploy in minutes, with the exact same system you know and love, and the governance and control you need to satisfy every business requirement.


At the end of the day, the Data Fabric is about making your life easier and simpler so that you can focus on the things that matter most to your business, not whether or not your infrastructure will be there when you need it. NetApp gives you the freedom to concentrate on moving your business forward by using data as an asset, not a cost center.

Next time, I’m taking on another big business challenge, managing your data, and I’ll tell you how NetApp can help you tackle it.


Mark CarltonMark Carlton



Mark is a Group Technical Services Manager at Concorde Technology Group in Wakefield, England. Mark’s responsibilities include Technical Direction and Strategy for the business, program and services development for customers, and Consultancy Engagement. As a certified NetApp trainer, Mark also works in partner enablement, presenting for both NetApp and Concorde as well as at industry events.



    • Years of NetApp experience: 8
    • Certifications: NetApp Certified Data Administrator (NCDA); NetApp Certified Implementation Engineer (NCIE)