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NetApp models uplifting BRaaS

Getting together with Asigra

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NetApp has produced a set of design guides for service providers, including a Backup and Recovery as a Service (BRaaS) offering with Asigra, and is looking for a sales uplift in this area.

The idea is to make it easier for cloud service providers to use NetApp kit when offering data protection services. The foundation is NetApp's SOI (Service-Oriented Infrastructure). It is the base for all NetApp IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) designs and is intended to help service providers "deploy storage, network, and compute resources in a repeatable manner". We're talking about building quasi-integrated IT stacks here, with NetApp storage inside them, and third party computing and networking gear wrapped around it.

Next there is a DPaaS design guide, for data protection. This is said to include archive and disaster recovery (DR) and suggests how NetApp technologies such as FlexClone, SnapLock and MultiStore can be used by service providers wanting to offer archive and data protection services.

The BRaaS offering is more end-to-end as it involves Asigra's DS-Client front-end software ingesting the data to be backed up and then squirting it to the cloud. Here there is a DS-System vault, a server running the DS-System Asigra software, which in turn stores its data on a NetApp array.

The DS-System Vault can be in a business' own data centre, a cloud service provider's data centre or in both, a hybrid, with, for example, the cloud data centre being a disaster recovery resource.

We're told this combined NetApp/Asigra product pairing has service level agreement monitoring, multi-tier occupancy and billing support, FIPS 140-2 security and two very interesting things: grid-based scalability and global de-duplication, neither of which NetApp has in its product set and both of which, we can assume, cloud service providers like very much.

That's where Asigra comes to NetApp's rescue, providing support where its products might otherwise sag. Asigra's DS-Client software carries out local de-duplication at remote and branch offices and departments - source dedupe - before transmitting the data to the DS-System vault. It then carries out a global dedupe - target dedupe - and stores its data on a scalable grid-based storage infrastructure, one it provides in DS-System, not one provided by NetApp. Asigra's cloud backup brief (pdf) describes this:

One of the basic concepts of cloud computing and cloud storage is that it can linearly scale both up front and in the backend seamlessly. Asigra’s Hybrid Cloud Backup/Restore maintains that lineage. Whether it is the front-end data collection where Asigra has on-demand data collection where multiple backup servers (called DS-Clients) share the load based on policies; or the backend where the backup vault itself (called DS-System) utilizes grid technology and extensible storage to provide a peerless scalable vault.

NetApp has discontinued further development of its NearStore virtual tape library product with its EMEA marketeer John Rollason saying: "Due to changing market trends and customer requirements we felt it was appropriate to invest more heavily in virtualization and ITaaS solutions." It would seem that cloud service providers won't, in NetApp's view, offer backup and recovery based on virtual tape library hardware.

The cloud interest in backup, archive and recovery is intensifying, with Iron Mountain recently buying Mimosa for is archiving software.

Although NetApp and Asigra have a strategic relationship it is non-exclusive, with both companies working with alternative suppliers.

NetApp is also offering what it calls Open Management via a Software Developer Kit (SDK) and Web services Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). It claims these can provide policy-based automation which "enables service providers to link their IT service management and orchestration portals easily and quickly to NetApp’s storage automation engine for rapid and seamless storage provisioning and protection services".

Instead of developing specific storage products for cloud service providers, in the EMC Atmos style, NetApp is providing on-ramps so service providers can use its existing product set more easily, and adding end-to-end software like Asigra's in those situations where its storage products need extended properties to meet service providers' requirements. ®

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