NetApp Insight 2016 – Thoughts from the Conference Floor

Posted by Scott Harney, Systems Consultant
October 5, 2016

I recently attended my third NetApp Insight conference in a row, and I found this Insight conference to be the most energized and exciting of the three. I had been wondering what NetApp would have to show this time around, and I was pleasantly surprised to find this year’s show had a decidedly different feel. I think the infusion of SolidFire staff had a lot to do with that. It was also good to see how NetApp’s Data Fabric vision is moving into execution—they’re now producing real products and solutions.

Here are some of my key takeaways:

  • NetApp is producing actual Data Fabric software products including:
    • Cloud Sync - NFS to Amazon S3. It does not have to be ONTAP-based NFS v3 source. It’s a pure software play developed in conjunction with AWS. I suspect that NetApp has used technology in Cloud Sync sourced from its own freely available XCP product.
    • FabricPool – Using S3 as a transparent tier within ONTAP.
    • SnapCenter Backup to multiple cloud targets.
    • AltaVault has SnapMirror now and SolidFire is next on the roadmap. I suspect we’ll see a software host-based product relatively soon (a replacement for the retired open systems SnapVault).
    • Unified SnapMirror/SnapVault functionality.  A destination can simultaneously provide a disaster recovery mirror of your data and longer retention copies of that data than you keep on the source.
  • NetApp is partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS was on stage at the show. NetApp can partner with AWS because NetApp doesn’t compete with the cloud; the goal is to augment and support customers’ management of their key asset, which is data. Dave Hitz’s message to the audience was “Don’t fear the cloud. Embrace it!”
  • SolidFire is being repositioned for its vastly simplified management and it’s second-to-none Quality of Service capabilities—not for it’s all flash attributes.
  • NetApp refreshed the entire series of FAS/AFF platform appliances.
  • NetApp provided an onstage demonstration of DevOps. NetApp demonstrated both its understanding of this new world and a bit of the “how and why” for an audience that’s likely less familiar.
  • NetApp is moving towards open source and freemium models. This is being pushed by the SolidFire folks. I had personally been producing an Ansible module for Clustered Data ONTAP. At the conference, I learned that NetApp developed its own version in house, and I was able to see a demo and meet another individual through a NetApp community who has done the same. NetApp is working with us and plans to release it  in a month or so.

Overall, NetApp seems to be a much more forward-looking and software-focused company. I did find that the general sessions were far less focused on NetApp’s traditional field—they talked about their SAN leadership, Clustered Data ONTAP migration successes and AFF numbers to be sure, but it really was about the Data Fabric vision as a whole.

About Scott Harney Scott Harney is a Systems Consultant at ASG with a broad background building and managing 24/7/365 enterprise and service provider environments. He understands of a variety of technologies and how they can best be assembled to support business needs—knowledge he puts to good use getting the job done for his customers.

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