NetApp, HDS launch bundles to put storage in the cloud

To put storage in the cloud, NetApp has new OnCommand SRM components and expands its partner base, while HDS stacks its unified compute platform (UCP), storage and Microsoft apps.

NetApp and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) are moving to make their products more helpful for organizations that want to put storage in the cloud , such as enterprises looking to build private storage clouds and service providers offering public clouds.

NetApp today updated its storage resource management (SRM) software with virtualization and automation capabilities and expanded its cloud partner ecosystem, while HDS launched two bundles consisting of Hitachi compute and storage along with Microsoft applications.

The launches come as vendors continue to position their storage products as cloud-friendly while trying to clear up confusion over what makes a storage product “cloudy.”

Cloud is probably one of the most nebulous terms in the industry now,” said Chris Cummings, NetApp’s vice president of product and solutions marketing. “It’s still confusing because the industry hasn’t done a particularly good job of making it clear what to do to enable the cloud. We want to make it much more concrete. The industry owes [users] a better answer.”

NetApp is expanding its OnCommand SRM software to add technology from its January Akorri Networks acquisition. OnCommand Insight, based on Akorri, provides service analytics and monitoring to virtual machines (VMs) and storage. It plugs into the new NetApp OnCommand unified manager, which can be used to manage all OnCommand applications.

OnCommand Insight uses Akorri’s predictive analysis for proactive management and troubleshooting, and extends NetApp’s support for other vendors’ storage systems. NetApp added support for other vendors’ cloud management software in OnCommand. These partners include BMC Software, CA, Fujitsu, IBM Tivoli, Microsoft, newScale and VMware.

“We’re not trying to win the single pane-of-glass war,” Cummings said. “We want to have these integrated with a broader range of tools in the infrastructure.”

What makes the new software cloud-friendly? Cummings said OnCommand Insight lets customers analyze and automate shared storage used in the cloud. For example, customers can move virtual machines within the cloud and let policies follow it and set up self-service portals for end users with OnCommand’s unified management.

“You can’t just talk about virtualization for the cloud, you also have to have automation,” he said.

NetApp also recently added a design guide for its FlexPod reference architecture that supports SAP applications and Citrix Xen desktops. It also added a NetApp Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track with Cisco design comprised of Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers and Nexus switches, Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V R2 and Microsoft System Center components, NetApp storage and its OnCommand plug-in for Microsoft.

HDS builds on unified compute platform

Hitachi Data Systems is launching two pre-integrated stacks based on its unified compute platform (UCP), storage and Microsoft software: Microsoft Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track and Hitachi Converged Platform for Microsoft Exchange 2010.

The Hyper-V bundle includes eight Hitachi Compute Blade 2000s and Hitachi Adaptable Modular Storage (AMS) 2500. The Exchange stack uses a Compute Blade 2000 and either AMS 2100, 2300 or 2500 SAN systems. The Exchange bundles start at 8,000 mailboxes and scales in 8,000 mailbox increments to 96,000 mailboxes.

HDS' UCP consolidates server, storage and network management into one system: HDS’ version of Cisco’s UCS and Hewlett-Packard’s BladeSystem Matrix. Linda Xu, senior director for file, content and cloud services at HDS, called UCP “the glue that ties it together.” The Compute Blade provides much of the stacks’ cloud capabilities.

The Compute Blade supports HDS’ logical partition technology (LPAR) that lets enterprises and cloud providers divide compute resources and puts virtualization into the hardware. Hitachi Compute Blade enables customers to have selected blades running LPARs next to other blades, Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware, all in the same chassis.

“This is for cloud providers and enterprises who want to build their own cloud,” Xu said. “They can take this and add pay-per-use capabilities or a service portal on top.”

Like NetApp's Cummings, Xu said automation is a key to enabling storage clouds. “It’s a new phenomenon in the data center,” she said. “You need end-to-end automation across technology boundaries.”

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