NetApp buys Onaro for SAN management

By Kevin Komiega

Network Appliance has recently acquired Onaro, a privately owned company with software that provides an application-centric view into a SAN’s access paths, redundancy, replication, and performance.

According to NetApp officials, the acquisition will bring NetApp customers a variety of new storage service management and change management capabilities, while Onaro customers will benefit from accelerated product development funded by NetApp’s R&D resources.

The biggest impact of the Onaro acquisition could be the expansion of NetApp’s heterogeneous SAN management capabilities. Onaro’s SANscreen software suite is currently deployed in 32% of the Fortune 50, according to Onaro officials, and gives NetApp a seat at the table in some major multi- vendor IT shops.

“Onaro provides large enterprises with a way to address problems such as visibility into how applications access data and how changes will impact their environment,” says Jay Kidd, NetApp’s chief marketing officer. “We have been continuously expanding our storage and data-management tools, but that work has largely been focused just on NetApp products and environments. Onaro gives us the opportunity to play more strategically in enterprise environments.”

Onaro’s SANscreen software is a suite designed to align storage resources with application requirements. The suite includes a real-time service intelligence engine that models how distributed system components work together to deliver storage services to an application, a repository that tracks the storage services requested for each application, a verification engine that validates that the delivered storage services match the application, a change repository that records all service and device modifications, and reporting capabilities.

NetApp and Onaro had a technology development partnership prior to the acquisition. The plan for the future is to tighten that bond. “We are working out the details of how our products will integrate down the road, and we are not going to limit the Onaro technology to working just with NetApp’s products,” says Kidd.

According to Kidd, Onaro’s technology will complement NetApp’s other heterogeneous data-management products, which include its NearStore VTL systems, V-Series systems, Virtual File Manager (VFM) software, ReplicatorX software, and DataFort encryption appliances.

Laura DuBois, research director, IDC Storage Software, says the rationale behind NetApp’s acquisition of Onaro was simple: Should they buy it, or should they build it? “Onaro provides a bridge for NetApp across NAS and SAN environments. It provides NetApp with the means to manage large SAN environments and expand their SAN strategy,” says DuBois. “And, if the NetApp strategy is to move up-market to environments with more than 10,000 users, they need that manageability.

“There aren’t a lot of options aside from Onaro. I think NetApp’s rationale was that it made more sense to buy it versus build it,” says DuBois.

DuBois predicts the Onaro technology will be integrated with NetApp’s existing data-management tools in various ways. One likely integration point is with Operations Manager (formerly Data- Fabric Manager), NetApp’s monitoring and management software for its enterprise storage and content caching environments. Another possibility is the integration of SANscreen with NetApp’s Protection Manager backup and replication management software or ReplicatorX, the company’s replication and recovery software for heterogeneous storage and server infrastructures.

(For more on Onaro’s latest product announcements, see “Onaro extends into virtual environments,” below).

Onaro extends into virtual environments

As virtual server infrastructures take hold, the need to see the links between virtual machines and storage grows. In response to the shift from physical to virtual data centers, Onaro recently made some additions to its SANscreen software suite designed to provide visibility for both physical and virtual servers across networked storage environments.

Onaro released a new tool called NAS Insight, an Array Performance Module for its Application Insight product, and enhancements to its Service Insight and VM Insight software. All of the products and upgrades are geared toward improving the end-to-end view from applications to storage and optimizing cross-domain capacity planning, availability, and troubleshooting.

Onaro’s premise is that storage and server teams need to work off of a common service view of an organization’s supporting infrastructure. “From what we’ve seen, up to 80% of VMware ESX implementations are deployed with network storage, and the majority of these new virtual machines are coming on servers that used to have non-networked storage,” according to Bryan Semple, Onaro’s VP of marketing. “VMware is increasing the SAN-attach rate, and virtual servers are presenting unique infrastructure challenges for server teams.”

Semple adds that disk arrays are half of the equation in any VMware deployment and, more often than not, the virtual machine team is blind to the storage environments. That is why Onaro is extending its automation capabilities for both physical and virtual environments.

Virtual machines place the storage I/O requirements of several physical servers to a single server, making load-balancing from application to disk critical to meet consolidation targets without impacting application performance. Onaro’s new Array Performance Module for Application Insight addresses the problem. The module discovers, collects, and maintains array performance information and adds that data to the fabric traffic information collected by Application Insight. The combination gives Application Insight users visibility into the host-to-disk application load. Semple says intelligently monitoring storage and server performance during consolidations can help organizations reduce capital costs by optimizing physical-to-virtual server compression ratios.

According to Semple, NAS Insight 1.0 is designed to support enterprise NAS deployments by offering visibility across all networked-attached systems through a single management interface for organizations deploying virtual machines on NAS.

Furthermore, Onaro’s Service Insight 4.5 software has been enhanced to provide service path visibility from the virtual host through the networked storage environment, including switches, virtual storage devices, arrays, volumes, and disks. Semple says by deploying Service Insight 4.5, organizations can take advantage of SANscreen’s ability to reduce capital costs, decrease operating costs, and improve service quality in a highly virtualized environment. As part of this release, Service Insight now supports virtualization technologies from IBM, Hitachi Data Systems, and Incipient.

Service Insight is priced from $85 per port, and the Array Performance Module for Application Insight and NAS Insight is priced from $75,000.

This article was originally published on February 01, 2008