NetApp and AWS launch fully managed Ontap cloud file storage

But hybrid cloud still limited, according to NetApp. Until containerisation is widespread, applications tend to be built for the cloud or work better in the datacentre

NetApp and AWS have announced the availability of Amazon FSx for Ontap, which will see the full range of the filer specialist’s storage OS features delivered as a fully-managed service as AWS cloud storage.

AWS already offers FSx for Windows File Server and FSx for Lustre for general file server and high-performance computing (HPC) cloud file storage respectively.

The latest move adds Ontap file storage to these with NetApp’s features set, performance and APIs.

The service means customers can access all NetApp Ontap operating system features but as a fully-managed cloud service. In this case everything is managed by AWS, including capacity management, performance, upgrades etc, but with customer monitoring tools and API-based controls.

Grant Caley, NetApp UK & Ireland chief technologist, said: “It’s not just a file server in the cloud, but an enterprise file server. It has full capabilities for, for example, SQL, Oracle, SAP etc, and all with full data protection, high availability, disaster recovery brought into AWS.”

A key benefit is that it will bring Ontap’s feature set to AWS developers that do not need to learn the details of NetApp deployment and management.

So, how will cloud performance pan out for a customer that’s used to an on-premise NetApp deployment?

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“Performance should be pretty similar to an on-premise deployment. It’s built on SSD hardware in the Amazon cloud,” he said. “You shouldn’t see any difference; it can deliver something like 100,000s of IOPS. But it’s not built for extremely high-performance HPC-type use cases. That’s where AWS’s Amazon FSx for Lustre comes in.”

In terms of demand and the use cases envisaged by NetApp by its customers, Caley said the reality for hybrid cloud is that customers are deploying discrete workloads to the cloud rather than spanning the cloud and the datacentre or bursting to the cloud.

“Customers are migrating to the cloud, but we’re not seeing a lot of people bursting to the cloud – you need a containerised architecture and portability of data and applications for that,” he said.  “No, what’s happening is that people want to migrate applications to the cloud, but with cloud native apps they are struggling to build in the data protection and security that they need.”

How is cost likely to stack up between running Ontap on-premise in the datacentre and in the cloud? The reality is that it entirely depends on the workload. Well-established workloads with particularly entrenched back-end requirements will likely remain more cost-efficient in the datacentre for some time to come, whereas deployments of a more greenfield nature can take advantage of the cloud.

“Cloud is a very different model to on-site. Customers are paying for consumption vs the cost of establishing and running datacentres,” said Caley. “For some applications it will be cost-efficient to build into the cloud. For many customers datacentres will be cheaper.

“If there was a choice, customers would move everything to the cloud but the cost and complexity involved means hybrid is the result. And the reality is most applications are not suited to hybrid working in which they sit between two locations.”

He added that what is more evident is that hybrid cloud in which applications are built between on-site and the cloud is not common, but that customers are picking workloads and building, for example, customer-facing systems in the cloud, while still keeping lots of applications in the datacentre.

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