Why NetApp's ionGrid Acquisition Matters to Big Data in the Enterprise

Originally posted on 21st Century IT


By now you have probably heard that NetApp acquired a company called ionGrid. IonGrid's focus was on providing secure access to corporate data from mobile devices.


How does this type of product matter to big-data in the enterprise? Well, let's look at two areas where enterprises store their data.


First: file shares. Don't laugh, the amount of data stored and "organized" in file shares is staggering. Whether we are talking about home directories for users or file shares for engineering departments to store and share business-critical files, the reality is that most of the corporate data in enterprises today is stored in file shares. At some point, a lot of this data will be sitting in content repositories, most likely in object storage architectures, but this transition will take quite some time -- and it won't be a complete transition away from file shares for many, many years.


Second: data warehouses, databases, analytics tools. This is where the so-called structured data sits -- think about your typical ERP or CRM systems. Increasingly, users interface with these systems using their browsers, typically available only when physically connected to the corporate network or connecting through a VPN. However, access from mobile devices has been challenging for a number of reasons, including the smaller screens that challenge the creativity of user interface designers, but also the arduous task of connecting to the VPN first, then launching the mobile browser, navigating to the site, then logging into an app.


IonGrid provides an elegant solution to both areas, by enabling mobile users to use an app on their devices to access files stored on file shares (or, for example, SharePoint), as well as accessing business applications within the corporate intranet (without requiring a separate VPN login).



Importantly, ionGrid has been doing this in a way that ensures full control by the IT department over whether you have access to "your" data. (It's really not "your" data, is it?) It includes little details like read-only access (so you can't walk away with a mobile device that has sensitive corporate data stored on it), or it gives permission to annotate or even download and edit documents on the device.


Another important item is that data remains in place, so you don't have to create another copy of corporate data somewhere to give secure access to mobile users.


So in short, as far as big-data in the mobile enterprise is concerned, things are looking up.


Is this a separate software package ? Will there be integration with FAS eventually. Sounds interesting. How does this compare to VMware's Horizon suite? I am a reseller asking because I have heard from VMware at their Partner Exchange about a similar offering (not sure if it native VMware or packaged EMC software).


Hi Sven,

we will provide more details on a NetApp-branded product in the second (calendar) quarter. VMware (Horizon Workspace), Citrix (ShareFile) and others are important partners in building a Mobile Information Management infrastructure. These partners are critical in providing our customers with a choice of options, tailored to their unique needs. In some cases that may be exclusively build around ionGrid technology, in other cases it may be a combination with VMware, Citrix and others. As we get closer to releasing a NetApp-branded product we will provide our channel partners with clear guidance on our best-of-breed approach in this space. Please stay tuned and let me know if there is an immediate opportunity where you would like further help.