January 10, 2017. Technical NextGen Data Centre Author: Marcus Burrows

The Data Fabric

In recent years utilising the cloud has become more popular. IT departments can choose to place data storage and compute resources in the cloud instead of using their own local resources. One reason might be cost control. Cloud resources often follow a pay-as-you-go model. As an example, an IT department could create test and development compute resources easily and then delete them when the testing is finished.

Times change and we change with them

However, as we all know, circumstances (including costs) can change over time. What if the cloud provider we are using is no longer cost effective? What if our security requirements no longer allow us to store data in the cloud? We are still responsible for that data but another company is actually hosting it. NetApp has addressed these issues with its vision of the “Data Fabric”.

Data Fabric with NetApp means the ability to choose where to store different types of data and to be able to change our mind when circumstances change. The products that NetApp provides include; ONTAP clustered nodes (physical appliances), ONTAP Select (a virtual machine running on commodity hardware), NetApp Private Storage for Cloud (physical appliances situated near but not in the cloud), ONTAP Cloud (a cloud based virtual machine run by a cloud provider, e.g. AWS or Microsoft Azure).

ONTAP 9, NetApp 

Tying the fabric together

The choice of products isn’t in itself the Data Fabric. What makes the difference is that we can migrate our data using NetApp’s SnapMirror efficient replication engine from any of these devices to any of the others. The GUI driven workflow is simple and yet what is happening under the bonnet is impressive – we can move our data between Microsoft, Amazon, commodity hardware, near cloud appliance and clustered nodes. What if we move our data from Microsoft Azure to Amazon Web Services – do we need to reconfigure all our backups? Not with NetApp Altavault, which can seamlessly transition backup locations from one cloud provider to another.

Data Fabric, NetApp


Software-Defined Storage has meant that the storage hardware isn’t so restrictive to the way we work. Data Fabric means that the location of data is also now less restrictive. Increased agility in data storage means a more agile IT department, which in turn means a more agile business.

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