NetApp targets virtual environments

By Kevin Komiega

—Network Appliance today announced new software products for VMware virtual server infrastructures, as well as a set of professional services and a new partner program.

SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure software is designed to automatically protect and recover virtual machines in VMware environments. The software runs on the application host or the physical machine running virtual servers and allows application administrators to perform routine management tasks such as setting policies, taking snapshots, or expanding the size of volumes.

The main aim of SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure is to complement the backup and snapshot features in VMware ESX Server by eliminating potential human errors often associated with common management tasks, thereby ensuring the consistency of backup operations.

NetApp has expanded the software's compatibility with VMware to include the application-specific data management capabilities offered by SnapManager. VMware-compatible versions of SnapManager are available for Microsoft Exchange, SQL, SharePoint, and Oracle.

Provisioning Manager, NetApp's policy-based automated storage provisioning tool, has also received some upgrades for both physical and virtual worlds. Provisioning Manager now lets storage administrators bypass the manual process of provisioning storage in virtual and physical server environments by using policies to associate provisioning attributes to specific volume types. NetApp is offering templates for specific application profiles to speed the provisioning process and reduce human error.

Updates to NetApp's Data ONTAP operating system add expanded support for multi-vendor virtualization and extend de-duplication capabilities to customers with NetApp V-Series and MultiStore systems. In addition, the Data ONTAP SMI-S Agent, which conforms to the SNIA Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), is now available on the entire line of NetApp FAS systems and V-Series virtualized storage systems.

NetApp's announcements focus on improving support for servers in virtual environments, an area that chief marketing officer Jay Kidd says represents a large part of the company's overall business and software sales. In fact, approximately 5,000 of NetApp's customers are currently using NetApp storage with VMware technology.

"The broad adoption of virtual server technology is causing customers to rethink the rest of their data-center infrastructure. They are rethinking how their backups work and the overall efficiency of storage technologies," says Kidd. "It is creating a lot of pressure to improve support for virtual machines."

Virtualization services, partner program
Rounding out NetApp's virtualization announcements is a new set of professional services and an Authorized Professional Service Partner Program.

The Virtualization Professional Services include a Virtualization Assessment service to provide customers with guidance on how to move to a virtualized platform; a Virtualization Architecture Planning service to help customers design efficient virtual server and storage infrastructures; and Server & Storage Virtualization Services to guide customers as they build a server platform based on VMware technology combined with a set of turnkey service offerings from NetApp.

Finally, NetApp is undertaking an effort to strengthen its partner relationships with a new Authorized Professional Service Partner Program. The program features training and curriculum to help channel partners sell and deliver their own brand of professional services for NetApp products using NetApp best practices, tools and methodologies, comprehensive training, and implementation backup support.

Partners in the program will be dubbed "trusted advisors" for delivering complete solutions based on NetApp hardware and software.

Pricing for SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure and Provisioning Manager software has not been publicly released, but will be licensed on a per-server or per-storage-tier basis. SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure, Provisioning Manager, Protection Manager, and Data ONTAP 7.3 are expected to be available in spring 2008.

The new virtualization services and the Authorized Professional Service Partner Program are available now.

This article was originally published on February 12, 2008