EMC and NetApp make their moves in the cloud

EMC and NetApp know if they don't take on the cloud, it could eat them alive

Titans of the storage industry EMC and NetApp could be seen as two companies that have some of the most to lose with the advent of cloud computing technology popularizing in the market: As companies outsource more workloads to the public cloud, they may have less need for storage sold by these vendors. But EMC and NetApp each made significant advancements to their cloud offerings today, looking to stake their claim in the growing IaaS market.

Each are carving out a strategy that leverages their current strengths and plays into weaknesses they’ve identified in the market. Instead of the cloud being a major headwind for their businesses, they’re looking to capture some of it’s momentum.  

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EMC’s strength in the storage market has been taking various storage technologies, combining them together and selling them as a unified system. The company is hoping to do the same thing with private cloud appliances. EMC officials in a kickoff said private and hybrid clouds are too complex to get up and running today.

head in the clouds Lasse Kristensen

EMC and NetApp have their heads in the cloud. 

The EMC Hybrid Cloud Solution revealed today is a hardware-software package that relies heavily on technology from EMC’s federation of businesses, including VMware and just recently-added member of the federation, converged infrastructure platform VCE. The appliance comes preconfigured with  either VCE vBlocks or EMC VSPEX, along with VMware’s Software Defined Data Center architecture (this includes EMC’s ViPR virtual storage, compute virtualization software from VMware and NSX network virtualization software  - if customer chose to use it). On top of that the system also has the vRealize Suite from VMware for operations management and optimization. EMC says it devoted 40,000 engineering hours to make sure the packaged system works smoothly together. It can be set up in 5 days and the entire project can be rolled out in 28 days, EMC says. It's notable that Microsoft last week announced it's own private cloud appliance

On the front end, there is a graphic interface portal that allows workers in a business to self-provision their own resources and see how much it costs. The hybrid part of the product comes from integrations with public cloud providers including VMware’s vCloud Air public cloud, Amazon and Microsoft.

Not to be outdone, NetApp today released its own hybrid cloud product, but this one takes a completely different approach. NetApp says the key to hybrid cloud success is having a common management platform between a customer’s site and the public cloud. The company’s cloud strategy has been around its ONTAP software management platform, with the first product named Data ONTAP being able to manage on-premise storage resources. Today NetApp released a virtual version named Cloud ONTAP that runs in Amazon’s public cloud. With this advancement, NetApp says customers will be able to more easily migrate data from their own operations into the public cloud.

Having a unified storage “fabric” as NetApp calls it allows data to not only be managed between the public and private cloud, but also transported between the two. In the future NetApp plans to release Cloud ONTAP for other providers too, enabling hybrid cloud connectivity across multiple public clouds.

Just about every major tech company is rolling out a cloud offerings somehow. Both of these companies are trying to make sure they capitalize on the momentum of the cloud market instead of having it eat them up.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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