Weaving the right data solution


Friday, 29 September, 2017

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NetApp’s Data Fabric approach enables IT organisations to safely span data centres and clouds, while retaining ownership and control of the data.

The application of cloud storage and computing to business functions is now ubiquitous, and often invisible to the end user, customer or consumer. Much of the present challenge is to also make the use of cloud painless and effortless to IT departments and business users. Part of the solution to that is selecting the right balance of public and private cloud. For many businesses, the answer increasingly is a hybrid solution.

Allied to the cloud storage paradigm are open source, converged infrastructure, virtualisation, flash, container and software-defined considerations. Pulling them all together into a seamless whole can provide a seemingly limitless pool of resources for compute, network and storage applications.

According to storage and data management solutions vendor, NetApp, the answer is an approach it calls Data Fabric, which it describes as enabling “customers to respond and innovate more quickly because data is free to be accessed where it is needed most. Customers can realise the full potential of their hybrid cloud and make the best decisions for their business… Over time, the Data Fabric will expand to cover more environments. With each new weave, the Data Fabric becomes more textured, more expansive, and more capable.”

The Data Fabric architecture, based around hybrid cloud, helps customers manage data across diverse IT resources spanning flash, disk and cloud, providing the flexibility to choose the most appropriate set of resources to meet the needs of applications and the flexibility to change them when needed.

The five principles of the Data Fabric approach, are:

  • Retaining secure control and governance of data regardless of where it is held;
  • A choice of cloud, application ecosystems, delivery methods, storage systems, and deployment models;
  • Enabling the components in every layer of the stack to operate as one while extracting full value from each component;
  • Easy access data to where applications when, where and how they need it; and
  • Consistent management of data across multiple environments using common tools and processes.

Following are some examples of Data Fabric in action with Australian enterprises.

Dealing with the flood of data

High-profile Australian software vendor, TechnologyOne, was happy running its own data centres… until the devastating 2011 floods in Brisbane knocked them offline for three days. “We basically sat down and said, ‘never again’,” said the company’s Group Director for Cloud, Iain Rouse. “From now on, we’re going to buy Infrastructure-as-a-Service and manage the entire cloud services stack — end-to-end. Storage, compute and network.”

A shift to Amazon Web Services overcame that particular vulnerability, but after four years the company realised it needed to vastly improve its cloud storage solution. It wanted 99.999% uptime, extremely high performance, synchronous data back-up in real-time across both data centres with no user disruption, and real-time data portability to accommodate one-off or seasonal workloads. And most importantly, it didn’t want to manage the data centre. So it turned to NetApp and asked for all of this as a managed service.

The storage and network solution provided gives TechnologyOne the flexibility to seamlessly control its data across its storage systems in Equinix and AWS with no disruption. With the NetApp ONTAP Cloud operating system and FlexPod and MetroCluster solutions, “We can have archive storage, we can have object storage, we can have high-performing disk, and mid-tier performing disk,” said Rouse.

Since deploying the solution, TechnologyOne has seen 7-figure dollar savings and a reduction in production data by 85% over three years, and it now out-competes AWS’ fastest storage by a factor of 10. “Looking back at where we were in 2011, we have definitely achieved our business goals. And with NetApp technology, we’ve also exceeded customer expectations,” said Rouse.

Beating the back-up blues

Since its founding in 2000, Nexon has grown exponentially to become one of Australia’s leading IT solution providers. One example of its offerings is Backup as a Service, with which it helps customers mitigate risk and lower costs with a reliable backup service. For this service, Nexon chose NetApp’s AltaVault cloud integrated storage with StorageGRID Webscale to build the flexibility and reliability needed.

“AltaVault with StorageGRID was a no-brainer for us. It made perfect sense to put it in our environment and offer it as a service to our clients. The efficiencies are outstanding,” said Justin Bailey, Business Lead for Cloud Infrastructure at Nexon. “AltaVault compression and deduplication ratios really help our customers. They give us value-added services that some of our competitors aren’t able to provide.”

With AltaVault inline deduplication and compression, Nexon has achieved a 10:1 data reduction ratio—a capacity savings of 90%. And the integration of NetApp All Flash FAS into its FlexPod-based Agile Business Cloud brought immediate results, increasing performance of its cloud platform by 300%. The company also plans to use its StorageGRID Webscale solution to expand its offerings to provide more object storage services.

“We couldn’t run our services without NetApp,” said Bailey.


The Data Fabric approach is a collection of integrated technologies and services designed to deliver high-value data management solutions, which are greater than the sum of their parts. It can be applied to address real data management problems today, enabling IT organisations to safely span data centres and clouds, while retaining ownership and control of their data.

Platforms (physical and software-defined) establish the data store endpoints in various environments and link them together, while management tools, APIs and ecosystem integration make them easy to use collectively. Integrated applications and services provide overall visibility and control of business operations.

NetApp Data Fabric experts will be on-hand at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo on the Gold Coast, 30 October–2 November, to further explain the strategy and the ways in which it can meet the information challenges faced by different kinds of enterprises across all business sectors.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/violetkaipa

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