Amazon Web Services (AWS) is offering a fully managed service for NetApp’s ONTAP data management system, enabling enterprises that are increasingly embracing hybrid cloud strategies a way to leverage the network-attached storage (NAS) they have in their on-premises data centers in the cloud.
At the AWS Storage Day virtual event on September 2, the public cloud provider unveiled Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP, a service that gives organization access to all the ONTAP capabilities, features, and APIs in an environment that is managed by AWS.
“AWS provisions the file servers and storage volumes, manages replication, installs software updates and patches, replaces misbehaving infrastructure components, manages failover, and much more,” AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr wrote in a blog post. “If you are migrating, you can enjoy all of the benefits of a fully-managed file system while taking advantage of your existing tools, workflows, processes, and operational expertise. If you are building brand-new applications, you can create a cloud-native experience that makes use of ONTAP’s rich feature set.”
Growing Amazon FSx Services
The ONTAP offering joins Amazon FSx services AWS already carries for Lustre and Windows File Server, which were introduced in 2018. Like the latest service featuring NetApp, the Amazon FSx for Lustre and the one for Windows File Server enables organizations to embrace the technology they already use on premises as a service on the world’s largest cloud services provider
“Because these services support the file access and storage paradigms that are already well understood by Lustre and Windows File Server users, it is easy to migrate existing applications and to fine-tune existing operational regimens when you put them to use,” Barr wrote, adding that “all of the Amazon FSx systems make it easy for you to build applications that need high-performance fully managed storage along with the rich set of features provided by the file systems.”
A Hybrid Cloud World
In an increasingly hybrid cloud world, tech vendors that traditionally have sold their products into on-premises environments are looking for ways to stretch their reach into the cloud, primarily through partnerships with cloud providers. NetApp already offers its ONTAP technology on Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. Meanwhile, cloud providers want to make sure that when enterprises start moving their workloads and data into the cloud that they have an easy migration path.
“If your on-premises applications are already making use of ONTAP in your own data center, you can easily create an ONTAP file system in the cloud, replicate your data using NetApp SnapMirror, and take advantage of all that Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP has to offer,” Barr wrote.
In its latest annual state of the cloud report released earlier this year, IT management solutions provider Flexera noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated what already was an aggressive move by enterprises to the cloud and that the bulk of them are embracing multicloud (92 percent) and hybrid cloud (80 percent) strategies.
NetApp’s Embrace of the Cloud
NetApp has fully embraced the cloud, going so far as to report quarterly financial numbers under two segments, hybrid cloud (which includes hardware, software, support and services) and multicloud (services around storage, cloud optimization and automation and infrastructure monitoring). In the most recent quarter, NetApp reported hybrid cloud revenue of $1.38 billion — compared with $1.27 billion a year earlier — and public cloud revenue of $79 million, a 155 percent year-over-year increase over the $31 million in 2021.
Roger Kay, principal analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, told Enterprise Storage Forum the parties involved with the service — NetApp, AWS and enterprises — should benefit in some way.
“NetApp also gets more reach through Amazon,” Kay said. “From their point of view, they want to sell as many straight-up licenses as they can, but they’ll sell to Amazon in bulk as an additional revenue source, which is ultimately a little bit cannibalistic from their original base.”
He added that for organizations using the service “it’s another capability that could be pretty handy. If you want to just grab some storage space, they set it all up for you and it’s a familiar platform. That sounds pretty good to certain people. As a service, all this stuff is increasingly going to move in that direction.”
It’s a good strategic move for AWS to bring on popular tech tools like ONTAP to keep its market lead over competitors, particularly Azure, the world’s second-largest cloud provider.
Storage Tiers on Offer
With Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP, AWS is offering two storage tiers. Primary Storage is based on solid-state drives (SSDs) and is designed to hold data that is active or sensitive to latency. Organizations can provision up to 192 tebibyte (TiB). Capacity Pool Storage offers high flexibility, growing and shrinking as needed and scalable to pebibytes. It’s designed to hold data that is accessed infrequently.
With the services, organizations can enable intelligence tiering to move data back and forth between the tiers as needed, Barr wrote.
“Within each Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP file system you can create one or more Storage Virtual Machines (SVMs), each of which supports one or more Volumes,” he wrote. “Volumes can be accessed via NFS, SMB, or as iSCSI LUNs for shared block storage. As you can see from this diagram, you can access each volume from AWS compute services, VMware Cloud on AWS, and from your on-premises applications.”
Enterprises can start using the ONTAP services by creating a file using either the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line Interface, Amazon FSx API or NetApp’s cloud manager. After that, they can access their data from Linux, Windows or macOS systems by using the Network File System (NFS), Service Message Block (SMB) or iSCSI protocols to mount their file systems. In addition, additional ONTAP features can be configured via the NetApp ONTAP REST API or CLI, according to AWS.
The new service is available in most AWS regions and in GovCloud and pricing is based on multiple use dimensions, including the two storage tiers as well as throughput, capacity, additional SSD IOPS and backup storage consumption.
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