Industry Perspective: The Strength of the NetApp Data Fabric

By John Frederiksen, Vice President, Product Management for Data ONTAP



NetApp has always been focused on data and helping customers manage their data since the company was founded. As the breadth of cloud offerings continues to expand, so does the amount of isolated, incompatible data silos with different management requirements. And, more often than not, this results in the loss of control, the inability to move or share the data easily, and the burden of rewriting applications to use them on the cloud.


As the hybrid cloud market quickly gains momentum and the competition heats up, what sets NetApp apart from other market entrants is our focus on providing a consistent set of data services through a universal data platform with seamless data portability and the ability for choice across cloud providers. Simply offering a menu of technologies doesn’t add up to a cohesive cloud approach.


In the time we’ve solidified our own hybrid cloud strategy, we’ve seen a number of interesting approaches from competitors, but none that we feel offers the level of simplicity, efficiency, and control that businesses require today.


The winner of the data management battle will be the one that makes the cloud consumable for customers, and NetApp is certainly the front runner in this race.


So what do customers really want?


A Seamless, Unifying Platform

NetApp is focused on providing the most flexible and easy-to-use solution for customers. To do this, we have a vision for a platform that can seamlessly manage data regardless of whether on premises or in the cloud. The NetApp® data fabric offers a cohesive solution that increases efficiency, improves IT responsiveness, and accelerates innovation through the ability to control, integrate, and consistently manage data across a choice of hybrid cloud.


The strategy behind the fabric goes beyond just providing simple connectivity between clouds: a common claim among competitors. Our approach is based upon providing a common data management platform that runs across a range of storage management systems, can be connected with powerful data transport technologies, and can be accessed with the richest set of data services in the industry today.


As the core element within the data fabric, Data ONTAP® gives customers a clear path to the private, public, and hybrid cloud. As we’ve announced this week, the capabilities of our leading storage operating system are available in two varieties, in clustered Data ONTAP 8.3 and now Cloud ONTAP. We have continued to innovate with our industry-leading data protection and transport technologies, SnapMirror® and SnapVault®, by extending these capabilities to the public cloud. Now, customers can use SnapMirror to copy a volume to their Amazon cloud with a few mouse clicks through an easy-to-use web interface with a level of speed and efficiency that is unmatched by our competition today.


Because this is built on top of Data ONTAP, it works seamlessly with our rich set of data services that support all of the protocols with which customers work and is tightly integrated with the applications or virtualization platforms being used today. Gone is the need to rewrite applications or management tools to take advantage of hybrid cloud solutions. And it doesn’t require the customization of expensive professional services that our competitors require.


A Robust Partner Ecosystem

One of the core strengths for NetApp is in its robust partner ecosystem. In the world of IT selling today, partners are faced with solving new and complex customer IT challenges. They are challenged to evolve their business models to stay competitive in today’s market. As a result, partners are reinventing themselves, sometimes in ways that put them in conflict with the vendors with which they work with or, at the very least, the programs of which they are part. 


Rather than focus on the competition, NetApp embraces opportunities and continues to focus on the benefit of our partners and the opportunities they see for themselves and our mutual customers. We continue to encourage our partners to go to market in the way they want to and to be able to choose the best blend of products and services to address their customers’ changing business needs. As an example, NetApp’s Cloud Service Provider Program was the first of its kind to align value-added resellers (VARs) and service providers (SPs), showing true commitment to our partners’ business needs.


There have been a few times in recent history when we’ve seen our competitors increasingly compete with their partners. At NetApp, we choose to focus on our core strengths while partnering with other companies that complement our technologies and make sense for our customers. In doing this, we are able to offer our customers a level of openness and choice that our competitors can’t or won’t.


In the end, it all comes back to the customer. Every solution we build or partnership we develop is done with the intent to solve the ever-evolving needs of our customers. It is this customer-centric approach that has inspired the vision and products behind our data fabric for hybrid cloud environments and drives the relationships we build in our partner ecosystem. And, ultimately, it is what sets us apart from and above the competition.