Reflections on NetApp Insight. Automation And Change Is Inevitable.

I was fortunate enough to attend NetApp Insight in Las Vegas and Berlin, and talk with NetApp logo_Olympic Stadium Berlin.jpga few hundred NetApp customers, partners, sales and sales engineers. There was a tremendous excitement at each event, and as I look back at some of the most exciting moments two things stand out the most: Tom Georgens talking about software defined storage and George Kurian talking about the NetApp data fabric. The key to making the hybrid cloud work is the NetApp data fabric, and the managing the data wherever it lives.


Automation and integration play a big part in successfully managing data wherever it lives. When it comes to managing NetApp storage in the private or hybrid cloud, OnCommand Workflow Automation is understandably a key part of the solution. OnCommand Workflow Automation, or WFA as it is commonly called, is being used to take the first step in automating storage processes and instilling best practices by many NetApp customers. But as I think back to the many conversations I had at Insight, OnCommand Workflow Automation is the answer to numerous challenges being dealt with today. It’s makes it easier to manage mixed mode environments, helps the transition to clustered Data ONTAP, lets you provide self-service, and integrates with orchestrators for seamless service deliver—including cloud services.


During the NetApp Insight events, we released OnCommand Workflow Automation 3.0 along with Data ONTAP 8.3. What makes WFA 3.0 really stand apart from the previous releases is the ability to download new, certified workflows from an app-store type of portal. What does this mean going forward? You do not have to wait for the next release of WFA in order to get more workflows. We will make new workflows accessible to WFA users on a regular basis, as soon as they are certified for publishing. We are just starting to publish workflows to the new Storage Automation Store today, and we will make a special announcement in the coming months when we have a substantial number of workflow packs available in the store. So if you click on the store link within WFA 3.0 today and see just a few workflow packs, we do not want you to be dismayed. Just keep in mind that the number of packs in the store will grow very soon.


If you’re currently using WFA or thinking about how WFA can help you, here is an overview of the latest features in the 3.0 release.

  • Support for additional data sources OnCommand Unified Manager 5.2.1 and Unified Manager 6.2
  • Support for IPv6 infrastructure
  • The ability to include workflows as steps in a workflow, you can create a parent workflow and add one level of child workflows
  • Inclusion of PowerShell and Perl functions that enable you to connect to the WFA database from within a WFA command or workflow
  • Ability to add help documentation for custom workflows
  • Ability to include passwords as user inputs, which can be entered during workflow execution


What really excited everyone that I talked to at Insight is that OnCommand Workflow Automation is available at no cost to NetApp customers. If you were lucky enough to go to Insight and see sessions on how WFA is being used to automate storage tasks, provide one programmable interface for NetApp platforms, automate FAS and E-Series services or integrate with VMware for a Software Defined Data Center—then you know what a powerful tool WFA is. If not, I encourage you to explore the OnCommand Workflow Automation community and if you’re ready, download the WFA software today.