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Breaking Through The Cloud

47 Posts authored by: kingman

With the summer quickly drawing to a close, we at NetApp are gearing up for a bevy of Fall events.  The first one is VMworld US starting Sunday August 26th.  Yes, that's in about a week, but Don't Panic.  Here's my second annual quick guide to what NetApp is up to at VMworld.  Start your planning now.


Visit us at booth 1402


We will focus on how an agile data infrastructure joined with VMware empowers enterprises to go further, faster.  Specifically, we'll focus on four areas:

  • Virtualizing business critical applications with confidence
  • Building an innovative cloud infrastructure
  • Modernizing end-user computing
  • Accelerating business with FlexPod


Here are a few ways you can interact with us in our booth:

JT Snow.jpg


VMworld 2012 CEO Roundtable


VMware just announced this roundtable session that will be moderated by Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief, Wired.  Along with CEO and President of NetApp Tom Georgens, the other two panelists will be Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell, EMC Chairman and CEO Joe Tucci.  I'm looking forward to this session entitled "The Innovator's Paradox".  It will take place at 4 p.m. PT on Monday, Aug. 27 at Moscone Center South, Gateway Ballroom 103/104, San Francisco.


NetApp Speaking Sessions


With so many great speakers to choose from, I don't know where to start!  You can check out the complete list here.  If nothing else, you should be sure to catch our spotlight session as this promises to be a treat for sports fans.  Here are the details:


You and 9 of your best friends can receive game tickets plus a private tailgate party in your hometown stadium.  This is an exclusive opportunity for attendees of our Spotlight Session featuring NetApp Founder Dave Hitz, Luke Norris, CEO of Peakcolo and Raghu Raghuram, Executive Vice President of Cloud Infrastructure and Management, VMware.  Entry forms will be available at the session doors.  Be one of the first 400 in line and also receive a copy of Dave Hitz's book, "How to Castrate a Bull."


Come to the live drawing immediately following this session at 12:30pm, NetApp Booth 1402.  Winner will be selected by JT Snow, former San Francisco Giants player.  Must be present to win.


SS1011 - NetApp Founder Dave Hitz: How to Transform Your Business with an Agile Data Infrastructure, featuring customer PeakColo and Raghu Raghuram, VMware 


Tuesday, 8/28, 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM


IT departments are struggling to manage the scope, scale, and complexity of their infrastructures in today’s increasingly data-driven enterprises. A new design approach is needed: a converged, virtual storage infrastructure that combines powerful new clustering technologies for unlimited scalability and non-disruptive operations with the industry’s most comprehensive, yet elegantly simple data management software. This new paradigm will empower businesses to achieve efficiency and growth as well as address IT economics and rollout at scale. Join Dave Hitz, EVP and co-founder of NetApp, as he introduces NetApp’s next generation storage platform. This agile data infrastructure – intelligent, immortal, and infinite – lets you harness, not fear, the power of data for effective decision-making, innovation and competitive advantage. NetApp’s 20 year track record of innovation continues with multiple new technologies that push the boundaries of what’s possible to help businesses go further, faster.


Dave Hitz, Founder and Executive Vice President , NetApp
Luke Norris, CEO , PeakColo
Raghu Raghuram, Executive Vice President of Cloud Infrastructure and Management, VMware


Social Media at VMworld 2012


Here's a list of NetApp folks who will be tweeting and or blogging.  Join in the conversation!



I will be remiss if I didn't give a great big shout out to our partners at VMworld.  Check out the list here and be sure to swing by their booth and say hi to them.


How about you?  I would love to hear what you are looking forward to seeing and doing at VMworld US 2012.  Feel free to leave a comment.  See you in San Francisco!


Chris Gabriel is the VP of Solutions Management
at Logicalis Group. With 20 years of experience in the ICT industry, Chris has spent his career working within both systems integration organizations and IT vendors. In this blog post, Chris talks about how Logicalis has enabled the University of Loughborough to extend their private cloud into the public cloud (a.k.a. hybrid cloud).  You can find a write up of this hybrid cloud architecture here.



By Chris Gabriel, VP of Solutions Management, Logicalis GroupChris Gabriel_head.png


Not many CIOs wake up in the morning and have to write a 40th birthday card to their data centre.  It’s not that all CIOs’ hearts have been chilled by this air-conditioned labyrinth, it’s simply that most data centre facilities have never lasted that long to warrant such a token of appreciation.  But, on the back of Data Centre investments by the United Kingdom government in the 1970s, a growing number of University CIO’s are starting to have no option but to head to the gift card shop.


It’s a fascinating dilemma to have though, especially now.


Ten years, or even five years ago, the answer to bringing an aging data centre back to somewhere near today’s environmental and capacity specifications would have been easy.  Spend a few million pounds on it.  Oh those heady days of pre-recessionary data centre new builds. But it isn’t simply the financial meltdown that turns a once obvious decision to ‘build and be damned’ into a question that deserves a little more thought.


The cloud is your friend


So, assuming you decide to build a new one, or spend millions re-furbishing your existing one, how big does it really need to be?  How much stuff will you be putting it in tomorrow, five years from now, 15 years from now?


You don’t build a data centre to be refreshed in 3 years; it spans many technology life cycles, and who but Nostradamus would predict the on-site capacity requirements of any organisation 10 years from now? How much cloud are you going to consume in 5 years from now?  The answer if we are all being honest is, you simply don’t know.


We also now have a clear indication that while the amount of data in the digital Universe will continue to expand, the footprint of the storage needed to keep it online will contract, and the techniques to manage down the massive inefficiencies and duplication will continue to improve.


So, we have cloud taking a great deal of compute, storage and application requirements off site, and we have more dense and better managed on-site storage and computing environments; so how much do you spend making that old data centre last for another 15 years?

When Dr. Phil Richardson at Loughborough University faced this question he recognised that choosing the ‘easy’ intellectual option; spend more money, was not going to be a decision he could justify to himself in the long term or to his CFO in the short term; so like all good physicists he decided to test his theories to see if he would get consistent results from the industry.


Well, let’s cut to the chase; what did Phil and Loughborough end up doing.


He didn’t end up spending £2.4million ($3.7M saved) refurbishing their old data centre, and he didn’t spend considerably more building a new one; although both options were suggested by numerous providers.  These responses seemed to be the answer to an old problem, not the one Loughborough faced now.


Taking a radical and farsighted approach


Loughborough consolidated their existing infrastructure down to two self-contained and highly efficient ‘cloud pods’ based upon the FlexPod architecture (managed by CA Technology’s Automation and Assurance software), housed not in a data centre but in the roof ducts of two existing buildings.  These two pods would provide enough capacity for the foreseeable future, on the basis that anything unforeseeable would like be serviced in the future by cloud services.  To ensure short-term ‘known unknowns’ were supported, Loughborough hooked their FlexPod clouds up to Logicalis’ hosted FlexPod cloud service.  This is one of the first hybrid clouds in the UK, which ensured that applications and data could be moved freely between on-prem and hosted services when needed.   The on-premises cloud pods now have a big brother to lean on if the University needs more capacity or in the event of a major disaster taking place.



While that all sounds simple, rest assured a lot of intellectual and technology cycles were burnt to ensure that this would accommodate the academic, student and research communities of one of the UK’s premier academic and sporting institutions.


But, none of these cycles had to focus on changing the way a FlexPod, or its constituent parts from NetApp or Cisco worked.  In fact, it was because of the FlexPod architecture that Loughborough were able to mitigate a huge amount of cost and time.  The millions of pounds saved are rightly now focused on teaching and research; the core focus of what a University is there to do. And the great news is Loughbrough now have a name for their NetApp, Cisco and CA provisioned cloud service - it's called a Hypo-viser cloud. Provisioned from from the FlexPod up and able to support the full range of operating systems and applications a modern organisation of any kind now needs to support its user community.


The moral of the story


When planning how much capacity you need in the future, think outside of the very cold box that is your data centre.


Make sure what you put in it is as efficient and flexible as possible, but also look to how you can dramatically change your thinking and long term server and storage capacity planning.


When Phil accepted The Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Award for ICT Initiative of the Year in London in June this year, he summed up perfectly why not being able to see exactly into the future is not as scary as it sounds, “It was a privilege to collect the award on behalf of all those colleagues who have contributed to the initiative. We now have an agile IT platform to take Loughborough through the interesting times that lie ahead.”


Interesting times; how right he is.

By David Slik, Technical Director, Object Storage, NetApp; Co-chair, SNIA Cloud Storage Technical Working Group



If the key to real estate is location, location, location, the key to standards is timing, timing, timing. Too early, and no one agrees what needs to be standardized. Too late, and the transition costs become too large for there to be wide-spread adoption. Fortunately, for cloud storage, the time is now.


Public and Private cloud storage has passed through the Trough of Disillusionment, and is now being widely adopted as a mission-critical storage infrastructure component. And, as part of the process of becoming infrastructure, the flurry of different interfaces that characterized the period of rapid innovation as the technology and its uses were explored is now giving way to convergence around a few standardized interfaces.


The Cloud Data Management Interface, developed by the Storage Networking Interface Association provides a standardized way to exchange data between clients and clouds, manage cloud-resident data, and transfer data between clouds. By leveraging standard HTTP and easy-to-use JSON encoding, existing HTTP applications are directly compatible with CDMI servers, and application developers can quickly and easily implement CDMI clients, sometimes even in a matter of hours. In addition to widespread support from leading storage technology providers, CDMI has been adopted as a foundation technology by numerous standards organizations, cloud and grid initiatives, and is in the process of becoming an international standard through ISO/IEC.


Standards, de-facto and de-jure, are fundamentally a result of simple economics. Standards simplify things, increase operational flexibility, and directly reduce costs for implementers by allowing them to leverage common documentation, tools, libraries and knowledge. As such, CDMI brings the following benefits to the cloud storage marketplace:


  1. Rapid Development — Write cloud storage applications using standard HTTP libraries and tools without requiring complex abstraction libraries. CDMI can even be used directly within the browser via AJAX.
  2. Multi-vendor Support — CDMI provides the freedom to switch between storage vendors without having to replace clients, and has been adopted by a "who's-who" of the storage provider industry.
  3. Data Mobility — Object IDs are globally unique, and are preserved between systems, easing data movement and migration.
  4. Foundation for Innovation — CDMI contains many advanced features that will be increasingly adopted over the coming years, and enables future innovation to be built on top of a common foundation.


NetApp is proud to join the growing community of companies providing CDMI servers, clients, tools and expertise, and we look forward to continued contributions, both to the CDMI standard, and to the success of our customers.


Now is the time to get started. 


For more information, see my colleague Ingo Fuchs' blog post here.

By Joel McKelvey, Solutions Marketing


I recently spoke with Omer Mushahwar of Torti Gallas.  He was very eloquent when speaking about the benefits of FlexPod to his organization but one thing struck me as very important in what he said: Torti Gallas relied heavily on a trusted partner to help design and deliver their FlexPod infrastructure. There are more than 1000 FlexPod customers globally and the Torti Gallas story is pretty typical – FlexPod customers rely heavily on highly skilled trusted partners for FlexPod delivery.



This made me think. FlexPod was designed around the principals of choice, flexibility, and risk reduction.  FlexPod is delivered as a validated architecture to provide these. But validating the architecture was simply not enough for Omer Mushahwar and his IT team.


No, what we’ve found after more than 1000 FlexPod deployments is that IT departments, particularly small generalist IT teams, want help with all aspects of FlexPod.  This includes assessment, architecture, sizing, 3rd party software validation, production deployment, and a lot more.  If you follow enhancements to FlexPod, you’ll see Cisco and NetApp are really investing in validating a lot more than just the IT infrastructure.


Recently, Cisco and NetApp have begun to validate Cloud management/orchestration partners.  This provides an additional level of risk reduction and reduces time-to-deployment for IT teams interested in deploying their FlexPod private cloud. 


And every Cisco/NetApp partner that sells FlexPod has an exemplary certification record – having achieved NetApp partner status and Cisco UCT, DCA, or ATP certification. These are experts in their fields.


Which brings me back to Torti Gallas – how is it that Cisco and NetApp can validate the top tier of partners, those with service practices focused on FlexPod, and help customers drive deployment success like Torti Gallas?  How can we validate more than just the architecture and associated technologies?


Announcing the FlexPod Premium Partner Framework


Cisco and NetApp today announced just such a “validation” process for our most advanced FlexPod partners. The goal is to help IT departments identify reseller partners who have achieved a truly exceptional level of sophistication in their FlexPod practice and associated services.  The name we give these elite FlexPod experts is FlexPod Premium Partner.


IT departments who work with these FlexPod Premium Partners can further lower their deployment risk, further accelerate deployment times, and will have access to a wide range of additional services and capabilities specific to FlexPod environments.  These partners are very well suited to aiding IT departments who need a trusted advisor when rolling out new FlexPod for their IT.


If you’re interested in finding one of these FlexPod Premium Partners, you can find them listed at on the Cisco and NetApp websites at:

Cisco –


NetApp –



FlexPod Premium Partners are the only members of the FlexPod reseller community that are authorized to use this special designator/badge that identifies them as Premium.  If you see this badge, you know the partner you’re working with has an exceptional commitment to FlexPod and their FlexPod customers.  And for a lot of IT departments, this will make a real difference.

FlexPod Premium Partner logo.jpg


Check out the initial partners that achieved FlexPod Premium Partner status in today's press release (June 11th): http://www.netapp.com/us/company/news/press-releases.html





Memorial Day weekend is over.  You have plans for summer vacation and a fantastic upcoming July 4th.  But wait.  Cisco Live is next week.  Yikes!  You got your hotel and your airline tickets, but you have not planned your week yet.  Relax.  Don't Panic!  Here is a guide to all things NetApp at Cisco Live.



Speaking Sessions

We have a fantastic lineup of speakers at Cisco Live.  Here is a quick rundown:

  • Transforming GE’s Cloud with FlexPod [1:30pm Tuesday, June 12th  -- BRKPCS-4387] Learn how General Electric’s corporate IT function supports global business units with private cloud and desktop virtualization solutions built on Cisco UCS, Cisco Nexus and NetApp storage as part of the pre-validated FlexPod architecture.

Cisco Data Center Technologies VP Paul Perez and NetApp Solutions and Integrations Group VP Patrick Rogers will join GE Principal Technologist Steven Fearn to discuss how GE has designed and deployed its cloud environment, best practices, the evolution of data center technologies, and new business models created by IT’s transformation into a service organization.

  • Dev on Demand – GE’s Private Cloud Built on FlexPod [2:30pm Wed -- Cisco Solutions Theater WoS4779] Join General Electric Principal Technologist Steven Fearn for a guided tour of GE’s self-service portal that enables developers to request, deploy and manage application development “sandboxes” based on a private cloud environment built on FlexPod.
  • University of Tennessee Launches Virtual Desktop Revolution [4pm Wed, June 13th -- BRKPCS-4381] The University of Tennessee at Knoxville launched “Apps@UT,” a program implementing Citrix XenDesktop that runs on a Cisco infrastructure to deliver full Windows desktops and applications as an on-demand service. Apps@UT will give UT Knoxville’s more than 27,000 students and staff anytime access to virtual desktops, applications, personal files and network resources.

For more details check out the Cisco Live Session Catalog.


Visit NetApp Booth 826

  • NetApp Booth Theater Sessions.  Below is a sampling.  For a full list see here.
    • Designing & Deploying Citrix XenDesktop on FlexPod [1:30pm Wed, June 13th  -- NetApp Booth] Join 15-year IT veteran and Citrix Certified Admin Mike Stanley for a lively discussion on lessons learned designing and deploying University of Tennessee’s large-scale virtual desktop environment
    • Beyond the Cloud - Conquering Technology Debt with FlexPod [5:30pm Wed, June 13th -- NetApp Booth] Learn how America’s leading compliance technology solutions company, the Walz Group, dramatically improved their business continuity process and cut RTO from ~12 hours to <10 minutes by standardizing on FlexPod technology. Chief Information Security Officer, Bart Falzarano discusses his strategy for successfully deploying a multi-site enterprise private cloud  infrastructure with a unified service catalog and single pane of glass management.
    • My colleague Mark Woods just published a blog entitled Live! Automation for the People on when our Validated FlexPod Management Solutions partners will be speaking at the booth.
  • NetApp and FlexPod Demos at Cisco Live Come see how you can grow your business with an agile cloud solution built on FlexPod.  Here is a list of featured demos.
  • Prize patrol will be out and about handing out terrific prizes.  Come by the booth, pick up your NetApp cap, and be spotted!
  • Virtualization Changes Everything. Book signing [Mon, June 11th, 6pm and Wed, June 13th, 5pm] with Vaughn Stewart and Mike Slisinger.  Supplies are limited, so be sure to get to the booth early.



Visit Our Partners

As you roam the expo hall, be sure to drop by some of our partner booths to see live demos.  Here is a partial list:

  • Intel Booth [Booth #1334] Glass wall datacenter with NetApp storage
  • CA Booth [Booth #818] Live demos using Remote FlexPod.
  • Cloupia Booth [Booth #548] Live demos using Remote FlexPod.



Social Media at the show

If you want to know who to follow at the show, here is a list of bloggers and tweeters that you can network with.


What are you most excited about?  Feel free to leave a comment on this blog letting me know what you plan to do/see at Cisco Live 2012.  See you in San Diego!

This blog was originally posted to NetApp 360 here.


By Jorge Pazos, CIO, City of Melrose


The role of a Chief Information Officer grows more demanding by the day, with an uncertain economy putting a drag on business and customers placing higher expectations of IT departments and services. As the CIO of a small city, I face many of the same challenges as my counterparts in business, and in some ways even more given that municipal governments have strict limits on spending and tax increases.



To meet the 21st century needs of our citizens in a resource-limited environment, the city of Melrose had to get creative. I believe our story may provide governments and businesses alike useful ideas on how to approach IT transformation.


Located seven miles north of Boston and with a population of 28,000, Melrose has a long tradition of self-sufficiency, with excellent schools and cultural facilities. But until recently our IT system was outdated and inefficient. We had two separate data centers, one serving schools and the other the city. Each had different hardware providers, different support agreements, and different tools for different pieces of hardware, even different generations of equipment from the same manufacturers.


Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan believes that the only solution to our budgetary restrictions is for communities in Massachusetts to form regional partnerships. So in 2009 we began working with NetApp on a re-imagination of our IT system, with a cloud-based virtualized data center that could not only meet the needs of Melrose, but those of other nearby towns and cities.


Melrose invested in a FlexPod® data center solution, which gets its muscles from the unified architecture and standardized platform of NetApp® storage and virtualization software from VMware, which has been a catalyst for the development of cloud computing. The system is networked through powerful Cisco® switches and services, including a Nexus® 7000 core switch; a series of FAS2040 appliances; and UCS blade servers. Our information is now about 95% virtualized, while all of the city’s critical apps, including financial systems, now run in a virtualized environment.


The Melrose IT department is now able to meet a growing number of data, compliance, and operational demands that are increasingly a burden for cities without strong systems, including e-mail archiving, public records requests, saving documents, and retrieving documents. We closed what was a glaring business continuity gap in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. Better yet, the city’s annual IT costs are reduced by a third.


We’ve already proven the concept of regional partnership—the Melrose health department serves two other cities—which has paid incredible operational dividends and made our communities healthier. Now we are offering the cloud to cities that cannot afford a major investment like the FlexPod data center - an architecture that has the capacity to grow without additional costs or hardware which is one of the most important benefits of this solution.


The town of Essex has already migrated its data to the Melrose center, and several others are considering joining the regional IT partnership, the first of its kind in Massachusetts. Essex has seen its IT costs drop by a third. The fees paid to Melrose help defray our IT expenditures. Taken together, the savings have freed enough funds to help renovate the local high school.


In an era of limited municipal resources, this example of creativity and innovation is one that other towns across the nation might be wise to follow. And for businesses that are not in direct competition, shared IT services in the cloud may be a model well worth consideration.


To learn more about our transformation, watch our video and visit our story page.

Following the Leader 

Posted by kingman Apr 19, 2012

By Pamela Kerman, FlexPod Solutions Marketing



When I was a kid, I used to love to play “follow the leader.”  There was always one kid on the block who stood out from the others.  And everyone wanted to be like her.


Working in the technology industry is not so different.  When a company like NetApp comes out with a winning solution, the competitors “try” to follow the leader. That is what happened with the FlexPod converged infrastructure solution.

The market has become increasingly busy with converged infrastructure solutions, so there are a lot of choices out there. At first glance, the choices might seem similar. However, when you look under the “hood,” you’ll see a big difference between them. 

That’s what NetApp customers told us about the FlexPod solution.  In 16 short months, over 850 customers in nearly 35 countries around the world adopted FlexPod.   Customers like the City of Melrose leveraged FlexPod to run their city’s operations with the ability to scale up over time.   So, why choose FlexPod?

  • Performance matched components with proven, tested interoperable components that scale together. FlexPod was developed with specific components to enable service profiling, ensure data mobility, secure multi-tenancy capabilities and data integrity.  All components have been carefully validated, engineered and documented in very prescriptive step-by-step best practices guides.  Only best-of-breed components are used for FlexPod solutions.
  • Built in secure multi-tenancy capabilitiesthat have been validated and verified by third party organizations, including: the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) organization has validated SMT capabilities running on FlexPod, the FISMA Department of Homeland Security granted permission to operate SMT capabilities running on FlexPod in compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act, and ICSA Labs audited and verified the security capabilities of SMT running on FlexPod.
  • Centralized and open management: No vendor lock-in. Customers can leverage any orchestration vendor of their choosing, or they can leverage one of the FlexPod validated management vendors who have undergone rigorous testing procedures. In addition, these management tools integrate into the open APIs with NetApp and Cisco components and manage the end-to-end infrastructure. 


Oh yeah, did I mention that FlexPod has opened new market opportunities for our partners, since FlexPod accommodates so many workloads and designs in multiple environments. Partners like these have built their solutions and services on top of FlexPod: Datalink OneCall Unified Support Services for FlexPod, Accenture SAP private cloud offering built on FlexPod, and Lockheed Martin BlackCloud offering built on SMT from Cisco-NetApp-VMware.


Learn why everyone is following the FlexPod lead!

By Jason Blosil, NetApp, Product Marketing Manager


I don’t know about you, but when I go out dancing, I assume I’m going to be cutting the rug with more than one partner. I think most people do, too. In fact, in many traditional social dances, such as square dancing and Victorian dances, it is customary – required, even - to share the dance floor with multiple partners.



Well, why should a storage vendor be any different? At NetApp, we know that all customers are not identical, so we actively seek out leading technology vendors as partners to deliver best–in-class solutions to reflect the diversity of problems and preferences in building cloud infrastructures. Cloud is a “frontier area,” from both a technical and marketing point of view. Clouds, whether private or public, are still being defined and dance cards are still being filled. If “cloud” could be likened to a dance party, then we are only at the beginning of the hoedown, and the night ahead will be long.

Many of you know that Cisco is an important dance partner of ours, and the FlexPod portfolio addresses many of the challenges cloud-builders face. Brocade is yet another dance partner, and we’ve now got a new NetApp-Brocade-Intel reference stack for Microsoft private clouds as well. This new architecture is built on NetApp storage, Brocade VDX switches, Intel white box servers, and Microsoft Hyper-V. These kinds of pre-verified solution blueprints help our customers drive the risk out of their deployments because they’ve already been pre-tested and pre-validated by NetApp, Brocade, and Microsoft.

The Brocade VDX switches have brought to the Ethernet world much of Brocade’s deep Fibre Channel legacy and expertise, namely, that of self-healing and self-aware fabrics. One of the benefits of the NetApp-Brocade private cloud solution is its modular and scale-out nature, which allows our customers to add the right amount of capacity only as they need it. To put this more technically, as configurations grow past a single “pod,” each pod has to be networked together to facilitate efficient and effective communication and resource-sharing. With “old-school” Ethernet, this would have to be done using Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), which comes with all sorts of “baggage” (complexities and limitations) that I won’t get into here. Just suffice it to say that with the new Brocade VDX switches, you won’t have to define and configure each switch port, manage multiple STP instances for each VLAN, and/or risk the possibility of bringing down the entire network in a broadcast storm with a single configuration error.

The other added value of this solution is that it allows for the use of any Intel architecture server, whether branded or “white box.” This added flexibility is great for customers who deploy a mix of servers or just simply have articulated a preference for a particular server brand.


With our excellent lineup of “dance partners,” I think it’s safe to say that NetApp can deliver the ideal cloud solution for a wide range of customers. If you’re looking at “busting a private cloud move” yourself, check out our extensive NetApp private cloud library to find technical reports, solution briefs, white papers, and customer success stories to help make your own turn in the cloud a successful one.

United We Stand

Posted by kingman Apr 10, 2012

By Joel McKelvey, Solutions Marketing


Unified architecture drives value at every level of the FlexPod design.


When I think about conversations I’ve had with IT leaders, particularly those at very innovative companies, I invariably go back to the old, boring concept of unified architectures. At NetApp we know unified storage architectures well – we pioneered them – but as customers consolidate and virtualize their reasons for deploying devices (and systems) with “unified” architectures stop looking so dull.  Really, unified architectures are more relevant in a virtualized and consolidated data center than they’ve ever been before.  And with pre-validated consolidated infrastructure deployments like FlexPod, unified architecture becomes a dominant aspect in realizing a low TCO.


You probably know that unified architecture simplifies deployment and management but you may not have considered how it can also help improve security posture, speed runbook automation, reduce staffing requirements, and lower CapEx over time. Without unified architectures in the data center, IT departments are forced to retrain staff on new systems, have disjointed security practices, and mask underlying system inconsistencies with expensive and unnecessary management software.  Midsize businesses I talk with are the ones that are really concerned about unified systems.  These are more generalist IT departments with limited resources and just can’t afford to upgrade their staff or runbooks every time they have to upgrade their systems!


As these smaller IT departments increasingly adopt a consolidated infrastructure model -- like that of FlexPod -- the requirement for a unified architectural approach becomes increasingly pronounced.  When buying relatively large pre-integrated units of IT infrastructure the risks associated with non-unified architectures are correspondingly large. One clear way to help reduce risk and easy management burden in such cases is to deploy a consolidated architecture that is both a unified platform itself and built on underlying unified architectural elements. FlexPod is one such unified system architecture built on underlying elements that are themselves unified architecturally.



Like I said, unified architecture is a long-standing feature of the NetApp FAS product line.  Unlike other so-called unified storage systems, FAS offers a consistent operating system, consistent features, and interchangeable physical elements across the entire product range.    Every member of the FAS product line, from smallest to largest, provides the features and benefits of the NetApp DataONTAP operating system.  This unified design makes the NetApp FAS products the true best storage for virtualized environments.  The fundamental benefits of the unified FAS line are equipment reuse, minimized training, reduced operational errors, and higher overall storage efficiency. NetApp customers have long realized these benefits.


Cisco, too, understands the power of unified architectures and interoperability.  The Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) is a classic example of a technologically innovative product line that provides a unified management, staffing, and deployment strategy.  And like the NetApp FAS, the Cisco UCS server system incorporates technologies that were specifically developed to enhance the deployments of virtualized applications.   Cisco UCS Manager enables rapid deployment of hardware profiles that make the deployment of software virtualization platforms such as VMware vSphere far simpler and far more repeatable.


As a result of the underlying unified architectures, and due to deep mutual understanding of the benefits of unified architectures, the joint Cisco and NetApp FlexPod data center platform is also designed as a unified, consistent whole.   A pre-tested and pre-validated platform that includes the best-in-breed UCS and FAS product lines, FlexPod is well known for its flexibility; Flexibility that is a result of extensive design and research.   And the unified architecture is particularly evident in the today's announcement of a FlexPod solution based on Cisco UCS C-series rack-mount servers and the NetApp FAS 2240 HA storage.


FlexPod scales from small to very large, both out and up.   Yet, FlexPod deployments of any size include the same underlying elements (UCS and FAS), the same basic standards-based technologies, and the same management and operational frameworks. An IT professional trained on the largest of the FlexPods can easily understand and operate the smallest – and the reverse is also true.   From what IT executives tell me this boring old concept of “unified architecture” isn’t sounding so boring any more.


Want to learn more about the unified cloud-ready FlexPod architecture?  Check out http://www.netapp.com/flexpod  -- you’ll find details on an entry-level FlexPod solution that particularly meets the needs of midsize and distributed enterprise IT.



Last week I discussed the role of server and storage virtualization in helping organizations evolve their business application environments – including mission-critical applications – from dedicated, inflexible silos to highly efficient shared infrastructures as the next phase along their path to the cloud. We continue our discussion of business critical applications today in the context of Oracle and its recent collaboration with NetApp in providing enhanced storage management for Oracle VM 3.0 environments.


NetApp is helping enterprises transition their tier 1 applications to the cloud by providing what customers and analysts refer to as the industry’s most efficient and flexible storage solutions. The latest development toward this effort is NetApp’s support for Oracle VM 3.0, which is the latest release of Oracle’s server virtualization and management solution.  We are among a few select Oracle partners that have developed plug-ins for the Oracle VM Storage Connect framework.



NetApp Plug-In for Oracle VM Storage Connect

Efficient, proactive management is an important factor in enabling organizations to move their critical applications to a shared virtualized infrastructure, and ultimately a dynamic cloud environment that delivers IT as a service.  NetApp and Oracle have taken a significant step in simplifying and centralizing the management of virtualized Oracle database and application environments by integrating advanced NetApp storage functionality with Oracle VM 3.0. The NetApp plug-in for Oracle VM Storage Connect enables Oracle VM administrators to manage the underlying storage for their Oracle VM server pools from a familiar Oracle VM Manager interface, streamlining the number of administrative tools and improving operational efficiency.


The NetApp plug-in empowers Oracle VM administrators with access to deduplication and thin provision capabilities for extreme storage savings while directly managing NetApp Snapshot for instant, space-efficient backups and zero-cost cloning for rapid deployment of virtual infrastructure and applications in data center and cloud environments. In addition, virtualization administrators can create, provision, resize and delete storage to quickly accommodate changing business requirements. The integrated NetApp and Oracle VM solution also enhances security by enabling administrators to configure and control user access to storage. They can thereby tailor security requirements to operating procedures across the enterprise.


Learn More About NetApp Storage for Oracle Environments

NetApp is a Premiere Sponsor of Oracle Open World 2011, taking place in San Francisco from Oct 2nd to 6th.  Meet our team of experts at the NetApp booth (#1501) and find out more about NetApp storage solutions for virtualized Oracle environments and cloud computing.


Visit our Community web site for more information about NetApp activities at Oracle OpenWorld 2011, including:


About Oracle VM 3.0 and Oracle VM Storage Connect Plug-Ins

A dominant topic of discussion within IT organizations today is the process of transitioning from application silos to a virtualized infrastructure for critical business applications and the eventual evolution to a private, public or hybrid cloud model.



Figure 1) Transitioning from Silos toVirtualization to Cloud

The Transition from Application Silos

The application silo has been the primary provisioning model for servers and storage, until the last few years. The application-based design approach starts with the application and a dedicated infrastructure of servers and storage carved out just for that application and its users. These silos are independent of each other and usually require specialized skills to manage them based on the tier of service provided (tier1, tier 2, etc), including dedicated SAN or NAS teams for storage.  The first step to get a silo rolled out is to purchase and stand up new hardware and infrastructure – a process that can require months before the application is in production. Once an application silo is rolled out, it’s very difficult to share resources among other applications. Stranded excess capacity and horsepower in one silo can’t be reallocated to another application that is growing, or repurposed to roll out a new application.

Server (and storage) virtualization is dramatically changing the way applications are provisioned and managed and is paving the way for a completely different architecture that enables a single pool of resourcesto be shared across multiple clients. The value proposition is simple: Most servers and storage systems are underutilized; by supporting multiple apps on the same systems, you can reduce your hardware footprint, drive up utilization,and save a lot of money and manpower.

Virtualization allows applications to be decoupled from the hardware, enabling them to become mobile. Applications can be moved across physical servers for load balancing; moved across data centers for disaster recovery; and moved in and out of the cloud for capacity bursting, flexibility, and cost reduction.  IT organizations can now build a broad, horizontal infrastructure that's standardized and capable of running multiple applications simultaneously.  Virtualization technology breaks the cycle of standing up new hardware in order to deploy new applications. You can quickly flow the resources directly to the point of demand.

As organizations now move toward higher degrees of virtualization and resource pooling across a common infrastructure, the increased role of automation and self-service capabilities lead to what is known as the cloud.  Whether it’s a private cloud built by an enterprise to run IT as a service (ITaaS), or the leveraging of public cloud offerings to complement a modernized IT infrastructure, the goal is the same: reduced IT costs and increased operational efficiencies that allow IT to better respond to the business.  Hybrid cloud is also a goal of the future with some early adopters already linking their private clouds to public cloud services.

While I believe these cloud models will coexist for years, one thing is clear: application-based silos are ultimately going to be relegated to the realm of legacy applications that will never be migrated, or to a small set of key applications in the data center that organizations believe still warrant their own dedicated infrastructure. The vast majority of applications and the servers and storage that support them are going to move to a shared infrastructure over time.


Virtualizing Tier 1 Applications

Many organizations are committed to virtualizing their infrastructures but are at a crossroads. They’ve virtualized their tier 2 and tier 3 applications but are hesitant to deploy mission critical applications on virtualized servers and storage because they need to meet guaranteed SLAs for performance and availability. The reality is that a large and rapidly growing percentage of enterprises have already begun the next phase of virtualization in their data centers. This includes consolidating and virtualizing business-critical applications to realize additional efficiencies.  Studies indicate that a significant share of popular application environments have already been virtualized in enterprise data centers today [1]:

  • 42% of Microsoft Exchange
  • 47% of Microsoft SQL Server
  • 67% of Microsoft SharePoint
  • 28% of Oracle
  • 28% of SAP


Furthermore, these percentages only reflect VMware environments and would be even higher if we include applications running on Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix, and other virtualization platforms.


NetApp has played a significant role in helping enterprises move their most important applications from inflexible silos to efficient, shared infrastructures. Virtualized infrastructures based on NetApp storage enable you to provide higher levels of data center efficiency and application performance, availability and flexibility to meet changing business needs. Here's what some NetApp customers are seeing in their virtualized environments:

  • Be fast and efficient:
    • ExamWorks avoided over $1M in IT staffing costs and reduced capital and operating expenses by nearly $500K (ExamWorks Success Story)
    • DCI reduced its data center footprint by more than 75%  (DCI Success Story)
    • Sensis reduced operational costs by 50%, increased storage utilization by 28% and slashed TCO by 47% over a 5 year period (Sensis Success Story)
  • Automate application availability:
  • Align to and accelerate the business:


[1] Source: VMware customer survey with over 1,000 participants, Jan. 2010. VMware Source Presentation


Last week I shared some observations from VMworld day one.  I will use this blog to recap day two.


Steve Herrod Keynote Address: The CTO of VMware spoke about the key elements required for cloud computing: simplify, manage and control.From a storage perspective, VMware is clearly aligned with NetApp’s vision and our emphasis on dynamic resource pooling, policy-based management and non-stopoperations. Steve also elaborated on VMware’s management strategy and specifically the use of automation for:

  • Monitoring all aspects of the environment
  • Correlating resource attributes and behaviors
  • Identifying and remediating issues




“VMworldLive” Interview with Tom Georgens:  Our CEO was featured in an interview from The Cube, which was simultaneously broadcast on the Hang Space (common area) big screen. Tom provided his thoughts on NetApp’s growth in the market, Big Data, our 3 big focus areas and the differentiated value we provide with our innovative technologies, solutions and key partnerships. Watch the entire interview.




Learning from Customers:

  • Oak Hills Local School District, a NetApp 2011 Innovation Award Winner, supports over 8,000 students from K to 12 in theCincinnati area. Tracy Pirkle, Oak Hills’ Director of Technology and eLearning,joined NetApp’s Vaughn Stewart for an extremely compelling session on its use of NetApp technology as part of its virtual desktop solution. True to its motto: “Technology is a part of us, not apart from us”, the school district encourages students to use laptops, smart phones and other personal devices as tools for learning. The goal is to provide access to online school materials –anytime, anywhere – to all students. NetApp virtual desktop solution, combined with VMware and Cisco technologies, enabled Oak Hills to save over $1.25million based on its initial rollout of 1,200 virtual desktops, with considerable savings to follow as more desktops are added. It has reduced desktop update time from 4 days to 1 hour and has also cut its energy consumption by 890,000 kilowatts per year.  They are an example of what our kids can do with technology!


And here's something really cool that NetApp announced this week to help our kids and our schools.


  • Anil Karmel, Solutions Architect at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) spoke about the role of NetApp in its secure hybrid cloud-computing environment. LANL is using two NetApp technologies that are uniquely integrated with VMware vCloud Director - NetApp Storage Service Catalog for intelligent (see this blog from Lisa Crewe), policy-based provisioning and protection and NetApp Snap Creator Framework for tenant-based backups.


Key Announcement – NetApp Support for VMware View 5: “Together, NetApp and VMware are committed to delivering modernized desktop services andan enhanced end-user computing experience for our joint customers,” said Patrick Rogers, vice president of Corporate Alliances. “The new PCoIP Optimization Controls of VMware View 5 combined with NetApp Virtual StorageTiering and caching technologies, ensures top performance for end-users anddrives down desktop TCO for organizations, while our innovative storageinfrastructure allows customers to manage all of their data on a flexible and efficient storage platform.” Read the full story.


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Pictured Above:  Geniuses at Work!



How about you?  What were your takeaways from VMworld 2011?


As a diamond partner, NetApp had an excellent presence at VMworld 2011 in terms of speaking opportunities (including customer sessions), booth location and traffic, live interviews and joint activities with over 30 partners.  I am told that there was some 19,000+ attendees this year and literally hundreds of exhibitors on the show floor.  Attempting to summarize VMworld 2011 is a daunting task and I can’t even begin to do it justice.  However, here are some things that I captured from the keynotes and sessions I attended on Monday August 29, 2011.

Paul Maritz Keynote Address – The CEO of VMware spoke about the 3 profound elements that comprise the cloud era and will bridge the transition from client-server computing.

  • Modernizing infrastructure and operations to carry existing and future applications
  • Investing in new and renewed applications
  • Bridge from existing to new modes of end-user access

I loved some of the interesting factoids Paul shared:

  • One new VM is created every 6 seconds – a pace that exceeds the human birthrate worldwide.
  • There are now more than 20 million VMs deployed worldwide.
  • There are 5.5 vMotions per second, representing a greater number of virtual transactions “in flight” at any given time than there are planes in the sky.

Takeaway:  I get the sense that VMware is truly aligning their roadmap to tackle the consumerization of IT.

Key Announcement: NetApp and VMware Help Transform IT, Make Cloud A Reality - a new joint solution that enables organizations to evolve to a secure cloud computing model at their own pace, gaining greater flexibility and efficiency without needing to rip and replace their existing infrastructure. Read the full story.

NetApp Customer Spotlight – Seven Corners, a travel insurance and assistance company with over 50,000 customers, was featured in a morning breakout session as well as in a “VMworld Live” session in The Cube that afternoon. CIO George Reed and Technical Services Manager Mike Ellis explained how NetApp, along with Cisco and VMware technologies, have enabled them to avoid $330,000 in system outages, realize 50% space savings with deduplication and reduce backup time to disk from 8 hours to 6 minutes. Seven Corners rapidly transitioned from a room full of servers to 3 racks. NetApp solutions have also enabled them to cut processing time for insurance claims by 68% and cost by 31%. They’ve been able to achieve an investment payback within 8 months and on are on their way to implementing a private cloud, expecting to save at least $3 million dollars by completion.

VMware Session: vStorage APIs for VM and Application Granular Data Management – Yes that’s a mouthful but it’s worth chewing on because it may represent the single biggest disruption to NAS and SAN environments – in a positive way. NetApp is among 6 key VMware partners that are closely collaborating to further integrate virtual machine and storage environments.  They are developing tools for both VM and storage administrators that enable virtual machine and storage environments to be managed together, with the same level of granularity. It’s worth noting that NetApp’s implementation of these vStorage APIs is further advanced than any of the other vendors in NFS environments.

I will summarize the other days in subsequent blogs.  In the meantime, feel free to share your takeaways from last week's VMworld in the comments section.

By Graham Smith, Product Management, NetApp



Whether you’re running Enterprise IT or a Cloud service provider datacenter, you’re probably looking at how to maximize resource usage and increase consolidation. So what stops us consolidating our mission critical apps into our virtual infrastructure alongside those not so critical apps today?  For many of us, it is down to having a lack of control where it is needed, the applications.

Most customers run mission critical apps in either physical or virtual infrastructures in isolated and controlled environments. While this approach has worked for decades, it ultimately requires more compute, networking, storage and power. While your hardware vendor may love this model, there is a better method on the horizon that allows us to greatly increase consolidation.

What if we could configure, protect and control virtual machines and vApps individually to ensure the SLOs we define are always met, regardless of how other applications in the infrastructure behave?

With this ability we can safely consolidate those critical tier 1 applications into a common resource pool and significantly drive down our CAPEX and OPEX while providing the right service levels to our customers and tenants.

So what we are looking at here is the ability at a VM and vApp level to define and manage the following :

  • Quality of Service with IOPS and bandwidth guarantees and limits per VM
  • Pinpoint and Control “Run Away” applications, to protect against resource starvation
  • SnapShot schedules and retention per VM
  • Disaster recovery policies per VM

A common question when we talk about managing at a VM level is “How can I effectively manage at a VM level, when I have 1000s of VMs?” Thankfully, as many applications share the same requirements we can be smart and manage them  in groups.

Setting up the policy groups could be through simple to use wizards and then configuring new VMs will be as easy as dragging and dropping the VM or even multiple VMs into the right policy group. If a VM’s SLO needs to change,just drag and drop to right policy group, better still allow the infrastructure to automatically rebalance and make the right changes. With policy based management, we’ll be able to manage 1000s of VMs easily and still have the ability to handle those VMs with unique requirements.

Who said we can’t have our cake and eat it :-).

Here at NetApp, we’re working closely with our partners to provide the storage piece for this brave new world where mission critical apps run safely in a common shared resource pools and we’ve fully realized the cost and efficiency benefits of the Virtual Data Center.

Watch for more on this topic during VMworld 2011 and beyond.

If you follow Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you'll be familiar with the analogy of this guide.  I'll be sure to update this blog as I get more information.

don't panic.jpg


Discount Passes to VMworld 2011

Don't panic!  If you haven't already registered for VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas, it is not too late to take advantage of the early bird rate of $1595 by using our registration link and code below. This offer is open to all community members, NetApp customers, partners, and friends and does not expire.


Here's how you can get this great discount:

  • Click this link to get started
  • Create your VMworld Account or log in to your existing account
  • Plug in registration code NAPP at the start of the registration process



Visit Us At Booth #401

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With so many activities packed into a 4 day period, it's hard to imagine where to go and what to do.  One way to orient yourself is to come and visit us in booth #401. We'll have experts on hand to answer any questions that you may have about NetApp's Cloud and virtualization solutions.  Check out this list of Featured Demos & Solutions.

NetApp Speaking Sessions

With so many great speakers to choose from, I don't know where to start!  You can check out the complete list here.  However, I am especially excited about the Super Session with Thomson Reuters.  Here's some details:

Super Session: SUP1009

Thomson Reuters and NetApp Build a Successful, Efficient Cloud

Wednesday, August 31, 9:30 am, Palazzo D/E

    • Mark Bluhm, Senior Vice President and CTO, Shared Services, Thomson Reuters
    • Val Bercovici, Cloud Czar, NetApp



Social Media at VMworld 2011

This is the really exciting part as we have a lot of bloggers, tweeters, and other social media mavens talking up a storm at VMworld.  Additionally, our prize patrol will be roaming the halls at VMworld so come by our booth to grab a NetApp cap (be sure to wear them).  I'm told that the prizes this year include Blackberry tablets, Amazon Kindles, Blu Ray players, Visa gift cards and much more.  I will certainly be roaming the halls and the sessions looking to hand you a prize!  Don't forget to use #VMworld hashtag as you're tweeting.  See below for a partial list (I'll update as we get more).




    • @NetApp
    • @NetAppCommunity
    • @NetAppCloud
    • @NetAppVirt


Video channels forVMworld: 

Communities/Forums/Micro-sitesfor VMworld: 



What are you most excited about?  Feel free to leave a comment on this blog letting me know what you plan to do/see at VMworld 2011.  See you in Las Vegas!

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