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Is an OEM deal coming?

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Opinion: The twitterverse is swimming with tweets from NetAppers full of suppressed excitement about a deepening Cisco and NetApp relationship and also about Data ONTAP-v. Could an OEM deal be coming?

ONTAP-v is NetApp's array operating system implemented as a virtual machine under ESX. NetApp seems to have a freely available version of that coming soon so that anybody and everybody can download it and try out experimental projects. NetApp's Vaughan Stewart, a Director for Cloud and Virtualization Evangelist, has tweeted about this. It is resold by Fujitsu under an OEM deal in the form of a storage blade for its Primergy BX400 blade server product.

Cisco and NetApp have partnered up to provide FlexPods, converged IT stacks encompassing Cisco UCS servers and Nexus Ethernet switches plus NetApp FAS storage arrays. This was announced in November, but Stewart tweeted: "It's only the beginning. I wish I could share all of the plans of NetApp and Cisco. Stay tuned!"

Okay: let's try some El Reg guesstimating and ask: "Could Cisco OEM ONTAP-v like Fujitsu?" It would then have a virtualised storage blade running inside a UCS blade server set-up. A use case would be a remote office/branch office iSCSI/NAS storage access with replicated snapshots to a central site for backup and recovery.

This could usefully use better deduplication than NetApp's ASIS. The Fujitsu-NetApp partnership includes NetApp reselling Fujitsu's deduplication product, which uses Quantum DXi deduplication technology. Could this become part of an ONTAP-v product set or a Cisco OEM'd ONTAP-v product, or even a FlexPod designed with ONTAP-v running under ESX on a UCS server?

Such a Cisco-NetApp deal would no doubt irritate EMC. It would, I'm sure, far prefer Cisco to use EMC storage.

Why isn't EMC building an equivalent product, a virtual storage appliance? It has its Celera VSA, Celera DART OS implemented as a virtual machine, but this is generally characterised as being for non-production environments. We might think it is because EMC primarily sees itself as selling storage hardware and software integrated together.

Could IBM do the same as we're guessing Cisco might do and OEM ONTAP-v?

Such partnership developments would add to the perceived upsurge in NetApp's fortunes and keep it riding the server virtualisation wave at full blast. Stick this possibility on your storage radar screen. Something is coming. ®

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