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NetApp turns onto ONTAP cloud storage

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Multi-tenancy and chargeback

Bercovici gives us a better sight of NetApp's cloud approach in the second of a set of articles about NetApp and its cloud journey.

He discusses the importance of a chargeback mechanism for private clouds, implying that NetApp will provide granular usage reporting to facilitate charging for storage use by cloud customers.

He also emphasises a need for hypervisor neutrality, saying: "NetApp has been strategically prioritizing and balancing our R&D, certification and sales investments for a multi-vendor hypervisor landscape. Much like competing with your best customers, or releasing yet another silo’d tactical product into a new market, placing all your eggs in one hypervisor basket is a very short-sighted approach to a long-term market trend." Candidate hypervisors include VMware, Xen, KVN, xVM and HYPER-V.

The message is that NetApp has a cloud storage portfolio which supports, or will support, secure multi-tenancy, service automation and management, and continuous operations. It will build on NetApp's existing storage efficiency guarantees, "extreme storage efficiency" plus integrated data protection. NetApp will probably suggest that you get it all in one virtualised box, in other words, which you can transition your existing NetApp storage to as you set up internal clouds.

We're talking about developing ONTAP here, I reckon, and also developing a cloud-focussed channel-cum-ecosystem.

The context is secure multi-tenancy, the secured isolation of multiple customer environments in a single cloud infrastructure. Bercovici says this: "NetApp, VMware and Cisco have been collectively working on a joint Cloud solution to this key requirement for quite some time. Expect more details at our upcoming NetApp Cloud Launch later this year."

Bercovici refers to NetApp, Vmware and Cisco testing a secured end-to-end-multi tenancy platform. An architectural paper is also mentioned.

How could this be delivered to customers who want to provide a multi-customer cloud service, either as an internal private cloud or an external public cloud?

Cisco could set up its own cloud service. EMC, VMware's owner, is already active in this area. The three suppliers, Cisco, NetApp and VMware, could cross-certify their products in a 3-way cloud offering with the pieces bought separately. The pieces could be presented as a single entity through channel partners. NetApp's desire for hypervisor neutrality suggests that it would prefer a cross-certification and sale through the channel approach, so that, say, a HYPER-V equivalent could be offered on, say, an HP blade server set-up, or an IBM one.

NetApp is not saying it sees a files-based cloud or a block-access cloud as its future. It wants its storage to be accessed by whatever protocol a cloud customer or service provider could want; CIFS, NFS, iSCSI, WebDAV, FTP, HTTP/REST, SOAP, BitTorrent, etc.

What is not being said by NetApp's cloud czar, yet, is how much scalability is needed in the storage area and how it could or should be delivered. We could envisage NetApp thinking that multi-petabytes are needed. It could get this with a scale-up big box - an FAS 7000 or whatever it might be called - or through scale-out by clustering existing NetApp FAS products, or both.

So now we have ONTAP8 coming, a possible larger FAS hardware platform, and a cloud launch later this year, featuring close integration with VMware and Cisco. Some elements of that cloud launch are pretty clear already. We can envisage ONTAP 8 being presented as delivering data access Martini-style - anytime, anywhere, with self-service and chargeback. It will offer secure multi-tenancy and be able to move data around the storage boxes in the cloud with no business operation interruption. Capacity can be scaled up or down as required. There will also be 24/7 service agreements - are you listening Cisco?

El Reg's best guess is that ONTAP 8 is going to be presented as opening the door for existing NetApp customers to enjoy cloud storage on tap, courtesy of the three best buddies; Cisco, NetApp and VMware. But this is not going to be an exclusive arrangement. Other partners are already in the wings and just waiting to be invited to NetApp's cloud village party. ®

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