On September 2, 2021, AWS announced the availability of Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP. This new AWS FSx file storage service will deliver the complete functionality of NetApp ONTAP delivered as a fully managed public cloud storage service. Initially, the new service will be available in 21 AWS regions.
Prior to the announcement, AWS FSx offered two file services: Windows File Server and Lustre file storage services. FSx for Windows File Server is a fully managed, native Windows file system that offers low-cost Windows file storage in the cloud, while FSx for Lustre offers high performance, highly scalable shared storage for compute intensive applications. FSx for NetApp ONTAP joins FSx for Windows and FSx for Lustre by providing a fully managed service built on NetApp ONTAP, offering ONTAP’s features, performance, and APIs for a broad range of applications running in the cloud. As such, it expands AWS’ addressable market for AWS-native file storage and NetApp’s market for storage on AWS, delivering an FSx file storage service that enterprise IT can quickly operationalize across AWS regions worldwide.
FSx for NetApp ONTAP offers the same complete list of capabilities and can be looked upon by enterprise IT users as the same highly available, durable and secure storage environment. However, this instantiation is fully managed by AWS – capacity scaling, maintenance, updates, upgrades performed by AWS staff – as opposed to IT operations and storage management staff being tasked with these responsibilities. As a result, users may be able to dramatically reduce their storage and data management-related operational costs. Performance and capacity management with automatic tiering between SSD and fully elastic capacity storage is done by AWS as well, while users have configuration control and visibility using both AWS and NetApp management tools and APIs. It is also supported under the AWS console and SDK. Both AWS and NetApp are committed to supporting and improving the product over time. The two vendors also promise tight coordination between sales and solutions teams.
The Impact Of The Deal
AWS FSx for NetApp ONTAP represents a significant effort and serves as a powerful demonstration of two vendors working together to further the objectives of enterprise cloud users. In my view, the result was well worth the effort – for AWS users, NetApp users, and any customers moving from on premise shared storage to AWS.
AWS FSx users get a file storage environment that is pervasively used by enterprise IT as primary storage, secondary storage, and even for archiving. ONTAP systems fit typical IT usages and see very wide applicability across vertical markets. The introduction of an ONTAP-based service now means that AWS developers, research scientists and application administrators are now able to leverage ONTAP’s features without needing to learn how to stand up and manage ONTAP systems. The breadth of ONTAP’s capabilities – particularly in the areas of data management – are unmatched in the market. Indeed, the capabilities of FSx for NetApp ONTAP are unmatched by any other cloud storage service currently available.
Both NetApp and other on premises storage users get “fully managed,” full featured ONTAP file storage delivered as a native AWS service in the largest worldwide cloud footprint available. Scalability will not be an issue. Compatibility with other AWS services will not be an issue either. AWS will do the capacity planning, availability support and maintenance updates. AWS will also implement automated tiering for cost efficiency. And because AWS supports the common industry standard access protocols, FSx for NetApp ONTAP can be used for multiple use cases including migration or extension of workloads to AWS, disaster recovery and business continuity, digital transformation projects, and worldwide distribution of applications and digital content.
The introduction of an ONTAP-based file storage service now means that AWS developers, research scientists and application administrators are able to leverage ONTAP’s data management features without needing to learn how to stand up and manage ONTAP systems. It also opens opportunities for users beyond the traditional storage administration persona. Cloud natives, application owners and research scientists can now deploy data to FSx for NetApp ONTAP and consume high performance storage with a rich set of data services without needing to know how to deploy, manage and upgrade the storage.
In the past I have lauded NetApp for being the most advanced enterprise cloud storage vendor, noting its cloud-forward strategy and product introductions. The availability of AWS FSx for NetApp ONTAP pushes that strategy another major step forward.