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When you realize that it’s more about data than about storage

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Chuck Foley
Chuck Foley

We recently hosted the annual NetApp Industry Analyst Summit in New York City, bringing together some of the best thinkers in our industry. In one session about the incredible amount of data hitting us all from the AI tsunami, one brilliant-but-blunt participant said, “It’s a good time to be in the storage business.” That I can’t deny; but is it a good time to be dependent on these storage farms? The answer may be more about how much intelligence you’ve put into managing that exploding data stockpile than about the storage itself.

Today’s data-sphere isn’t only about AI-fueled growth; it’s also about constructing an intelligent data infrastructure that helps you to benefit from all that data without being crushed by its weight. This is where it’s good to be in the storage business—and simultaneously in the data management business. At NetApp, we recognize that while big, fast, secure storage is table stakes to the game in today’s AI-enabled world, the real win comes from making that big, fast, secure storage infrastructure intelligent. A resource that isn’t just storing your data, but understanding it, caring for it, and taking action on it in the ways that propel your business forward.

Today NetApp made a suite of announcements that illustrate just how well we understand the ever-increasing need for intelligence in the storage and data management realm. Of course, AI and GenAI workloads are at the top of everyone’s list—and we’re no different. But other workloads and scenarios are not far behind, such as dealing with the current disruption in the virtualization market, or the ongoing need for continued diligence against the cybercriminals looking to get their hands on your company’s proprietary data. That’s why we’re not letting the focus on AI distract us from delivering strong cyber resilience for our customers.

BlueXP workload factory: Intelligent deployment and management of complex infrastructure

Today’s release of the new NetApp® BlueXP workload factory is a clear example of how we’re extending our intelligent data infrastructure leadership. This intelligent infrastructure deployment service automates the best-practices-based provisioning and management of cloud resources and services needed for key customer workloads in a way that optimizes deployment time, cost, performance, and protection. This service is focused on Amazon Web Services (AWS) resident workloads that require a rock-solid storage infrastructure. It can automatically deploy Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP and other required AWS services in a way that’s tailored for VMware cloud environments, enterprise database instances for Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and SAP—and of course GenAI projects. As storage is provisioned, the BlueXP workload factory will configure robust data protection driven by the requirements of the target workload. This workload might include encryption, snapshots, replication, backup, immutability, or indelibility to ensure continuous protection against user error, corruption, ransomware, and disasters.

If that isn’t enough “smarts,” the service is built with the understanding that many SREs, platform engineers, and cloud ops teams rely on infrastructure –as code (IaC) to ensure consistent operational processes. So the BlueXP workload factory has a codebox feature that dynamically creates IaC snippets based on the user flows for the target workload in question. Users can grab these snippets to ensure built-in repeatability and seamless integration with existing orchestration workflow models (either in the AWS console or from third-party automation providers).

Getting intelligent about enabling artificial intelligence

At NetApp, we’re investing in our customers’ success with GenAI. Our March and May announcements carried a wealth of information about GenAI, and we’re continuing to double down in this area. BlueXP workload factory has intelligent, automated workflows for setting up infrastructure for GenAI projects in a way that’s built for success. But some customers prefer a more DIY approach—albeit with some guardrails. To that end, AWS is joining NetApp in releasing a reference architecture that guides customers in building retrieval-automated generation (RAG) enabled GenAI apps. The architecture uses AWS Bedrock and pretrained foundational models, while using the customer’s proprietary data for stronger results in a secure manner.

In another part of the hybrid multicloud domain, our Azure customers have asked for a GenAI toolkit much like the one we released in May for Google Cloud. The toolkit provides both binaries and step-by-step guidance to set up RAG-enabled GenAI workflows that connect proprietary data with Azure NetApp Files and other Azure resources. Today we’re happy to offer these customers the NetApp GenAI toolkit—Azure version.

And now a word from our partners

People who follow NetApp know that we’ve staked out the high ground in hybrid multicloud environments by combining our R&D with the undisputed leaders in the public cloud: AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. All of these partners, who build native storage services on NetApp ONTAP® technology, have recently released enhancements that play into the industry’s intelligent data infrastructure initiatives.

From AWS, you may have seen the recent news of exciting new capabilities for Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP. GenAI workloads will benefit from the new scalability levels in FSx for ONTAP scale-out configurations. More traditional enterprise applications will benefit from the enhancements to both FSX for ONTAP scale-up configurations and the new NVMe/TCP support for block-oriented workloads, which can provide up to 20% higher performance than standard iSCSI configurations.

Our partners in Azure are fully aligned with what we’re doing in the GenAI area. They’ve recently released large volume support into GA status to support these GenAI workloads. Combined with the GenAI toolkit, Azure customers have an even stronger position from which to start making GenAI work for them.

A quick note to say thanks to those in the community who are putting their hands on the very recently released Google Cloud version of the NetApp GenAI toolkit. This is a great example of how NetApp and our hyperscaler partners are giving our customers specific technologies and clear guidance to accelerate their RAG and GenAI efforts. Read about the keys to success here.

There’s more – so much more

The editors simply won’t give me enough real estate on this page to describe all the incredible capabilities that we’re putting at our customers’ fingertips, either directly or with our hyperscaler partners. But you can learn more about how to get ahead with intelligent data infrastructure equipped for the AI era by talking with your NetApp sales representative or one of our incredible partners. And you can find more at

Chuck Foley

Chuck Foley is Sr. Director of Marketing focusing on cloud-based solutions. He’s a 30-year veteran of the IT industry, joining NetApp with their acquisition of Talon Storage in March 2020. His tours of duty in our market include running cybersecurity, video surveillance, ed-tech, and high-speed interconnect companies, giving him a good perspective of the challenges that our customers face and how to use technology to solve those issues. He’s also a six-time coach of the US National team for the International Taekwon-Do Federation World Championships, a former dolphin trainer, and a disc jockey back in the days of truly ‘classic rock’.

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