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NetApp turns onto ONTAP cloud storage

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Comment NetApp's cloud czar, Val Bercovici, has blogged about NetApp's "upcoming NetApp Cloud Launch later this year" which will involve NetApp working with Cisco and VMWare to deliver a virtualised cloud network, server and storage infrastructure.

Data ONTAP is NetApp's storage array operating system for its FAS arrays and V-Series virtualising front-end controller for third-party arrays. It provides file and block-access storage and comes in standard ONTAP 7G and clustered ONTAP GX form. A well-telegraphed ONTAP 8 is expected later this year that combines the two variants in some way. We also expect a new high-end FAS array, more powerful and more scalable than the current top-of-the-range FAS 6000 series.

So far, NetApp has not released any cloud specific storage products - ones that would provide specific services - such as secured multi-tenancy, literally global scalability and name space or anything else. NetApp indicated that it will not offer cloud services itself, with co-founder Dave Hitz blogging: "NetApp’s strategy is not to build clouds ourselves, but to help other people build them... NetApp’s core competency is storage and data management. This is a very different skill set from running large data centers efficiently."

He said that NetApp already supplies storage to cloud service providers, such as Oracle On Demand, Yahoo! Mail, SAP by design, Photobucket, AT&T, IBM Hosting and others, and thinks: "we are already the number one cloud storage vendor in the industry."

However, NetApp is developing its products to function better in a cloud computing environment. Bercovici introduced himself publicly as NetApp's cloud czar on August 3rd, saying NetApp assessed the cloud market, and had: "made a few key strategic decisions which we will be introducing throughout the remainder of this year."

Some of these strategic decisions are listed: don't compete with your best customers; don't fight evolutionary trends; build an (ecosystem) village of system integrators, telcos and cable operators, and technology partners. He talks about leveraging partner strengths to produce "the most comprehensive Cloud Computing Solution in the marketplace." That sounds like bundled products are coming. He says NetApp won't produce a separate cloud-focussed business unit or a separate cloud-focussed product line. Instead NetApp will become, in its entirety, a cloud-centric company with cloud-focussed offerings.

The point is made that existing application/server/storage silos can be transitioned to a highly virtualised horizontal shared infrasture through virtualisation technology. But this is more than putting a cloud interface on them, as these silos will be absorbed into a virtualised infrastructure where they think they are still silo'd. In fact they will only be in virtual silos.

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