What is the Data Fabric?

March 13, 2017

Provided by: Matt Watts of www.watts-innovating.com

Phil Brotherton our VP for the Data Fabric Group introduced me to this way of discussing the layers that make up our Data Fabric Strategy, it really resonated with me so I’ve started to use it in my own way as well. I find it’s a great way to have a more strategic discussion without heading too quickly into the products and solutions that we provide. There’s a video at the end where I discussed this at a recent Executive Briefing that we ran.

What is the Data Fabric?
Hybrid and multi-cloud deployment models are becoming the new normal for enterprise IT organisations. With these mixed environments, new challenges around data management emerge.

NetApp’s vision for data management is a data fabric that seamlessly connects different clouds, whether they are private, public, or hybrid environments. A data fabric unifies data management across distributed resources to allow consistency and control of data mobility, security, visibility, protection, and access. It must also be open and heterogeneous.

To achieve this there are effectively three layers that we focus on;

 data-fabric-end-points-1 End Points are where data or applications reside, so it’s important for me to understand what the characteristics are that you require
from the end point. Is it high performance, application integration, is it data protection, complete system automation? our strategy for this layer of the data fabric is that we’re activating many different end points in order to meet the characteristics of what it is that our customers need. Understanding what these characteristics are means I can discuss with you what the appropriate end points are that can deliver them, be that our FlexPod Converged Infrastructure, All Flash FAS (AFF) for High Performance with Efficiency and Application and Data Protection, NetApp Private Storage (NPS) for moving data near to the Cloud, ONTAP Cloud for AWS for rapid low cost Test and Development, SolidFire for complete system automation or maybe AltaVault to take your existing backups, regardless of the backup application, and route these to one of many different choices of S3 backend, on premise or in the Cloud.

Then there’s Connections, having lots of Data Fabric Connectionschoice for end points is great as it enables huge flexibility in the way that you can build your data platform, now it’s about ensuring that they can connect to each other. There’s our own replication tools that enable this, but there’s also S3 so that we can connect end points across Clouds, and with NetApp Private Storage (NPS) we can store data near to the Cloud whilst enabling simple connectivity to the compute resources of many different hyperscale providers. The definition of connections is broad, but it’s about understanding what you are trying to achieve, how do you see your use of Cloud? with this understanding I can show you how the end points we previously discussed have a rich set of connections to enable device to device and device to Cloud connectivity and more.

Data Fabric Layers 3And finally there are Applications and Services, data fabric integrated applications and services deliver high value solutions that leverage the foundational capabilities of the underlying fabric, are you looking at IaaS, what platforms are you looking at to deliver Orchestration and Automation? we have deep and rich integration with many Orchestration, Automation and Virtualisation technologies, VMware, OpenStack, Apprenda, Docker, Jenkins, Puppet, Chef and many many others. Then applications such as OnCommand Insight (OCI) offer significant value in this area, OCI is a rich service suite that we deliver to enable you to get an overview of all of the technologies that make up your infrastructure, it essentially provides a window and complete visibility into all the elements of your data fabric as well as the virtual and physical elements from all other significant vendors.

The Data Fabric is about enabling many different end points that have the right characteristics to meet and exceed your requirements whether on-premise or in the Cloud, this might be a Converged Infrastructure such as FlexPod, it might be SolidFire, it might be AltaVault or StorageGRID, the more of these we activate the more choice you have as to how you build your Private and Hybrid Cloud for the future. But a choice of end points works when they have connections to each other and to the Cloud to allow data and applications to flow across them, and applications and services will enable data discovery, fabric monitoring and reporting, data protection, data movement among all storage end points, copy data management, data governance and compliance, data access management, with much more to come.

Data is one of the most valuable assets that you have, ensuring that you have a platform that enables you to have it in the right place at the right time and at the right cost is essential, this is precisely what we can help you to achieve with the technologies of our Data Fabric.

Alternatively if you’d like to know more, please contact us below.

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