NetApp is releasing a series of updates across its storage portfolio throughout the next few months, bringing incremental improvements and a new subscription offering to its lineup.
Notable features in this biannual refresh for NetApp include the 9.9 update for OnTap, the company's software-defined data storage operating system, as well as added features and consumption options for FlexPod, the decade-old Cisco and NetApp converged infrastructure system.
NetApp now also offers a version of its storage as a service (STaaS) Keystone Flex Subscription with data center operator Equinix.
These updates target the needs of traditional enterprise customers looking to expand their public cloud storage and service uses while maintaining the privacy of on-premises storage, said Adam Fore, senior director of portfolio marketing for NetApp.
"It's a laundry list of things that are incremental in nature," said John Webster, a senior partner with Evaluator Group. "They're firing on different cylinders right here; you're just seeing a subset of them."
NetApp's Keystone Flex Subscription, the company's primary STaaS offering, will now include integration with Equinix services, including its Cloud Exchange Fabric, and colocation of data at 21 of Equinix's international data centers.
The service allows customers to maintain a private cloud while using Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric to tap into the features offered by the big three public clouds -- AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud -- without having to move their data onto the public cloud itself.
As with other STaaS providers, NetApp Keystone Flex with Equinix will offer pay-as-you-grow pricing and centralized data management across clouds.
The subscription is handled through a single invoice and contract by NetApp.
"You're shrinking your hybrid cloud environment so that your private cloud is right next to the public cloud," Fore said. "We've simplified the use of this architecture in a single subscription."
Dell Technologies and HPE announced similar partnerships for colocation services through Equinix, but neither have integrated Equinix's technology and services quite like NetApp has, according to Webster.
Ashish Nadkarni Group vice president of infrastructure practice, IDC
"They've gone a little bit further in terms of a partnership like this," Webster said.
Ashish Nadkarni, group vice president of IDC's infrastructure practice, said the Equinix partnership offers a suite of price tiering and cloud accessibility features without the need to manage all three public clouds.
"If you don't want to put all your eggs in the public cloud basket, this is a good middle-of-the-line experience," he said.
Calling OnTap the "heart" of NetApp's products and services, Fore said OnTap 9.9 offers important enhancements to security, remote access management, and improving the stability and availability of on-premises architecture.
Fore said OnTap users could expect up to four times the performance for applications which use a single volume LUNs, such as VMware data stores, in the new update, as well as sub-five minute times for building new hybrid-clouds or cloning databases of any size.
StorageGrid, NetApp's object storage suite, will also see an update to version 11.5. These upgrades include the ability to secure and encrypt data through Key Management Interoperability Protocol External Key Manager and increase ransomware protections with Object Lock.
FlexPod, one of NetApp's longest-running offerings, will have a phased update rollout throughout the summer of 2021.
"We're unveiling a longer-term vision for FlexPod," Fore said. "We've been working with [Cisco] on full-stack automation … It really simplifies how you bring the cloud in your data center."
These updates, according to Fore, promise to bring more automation to FlexPod, including intelligent application placement across on-premises and cloud workloads. Fore also noted FlexPod will be available as a "managed, cloud-like service."
Nadkarni said the option to access FlexPod as a cloud-like service marks another push by the storage heavyweight into more managed services.
"This is another brick they're laying on," he said. "It's part of their journey and part of their roadmap."