Data is the lifeblood of a modern organisation. Some analysts are referring to it as a new currency.

No matter which way you look at it, in the digital age, businesses have to properly harness the power of data if they are to respond quickly enough to the changes around them – their competitiveness will be determined by their adaptability.

Managing, storing, and moving that data is critical for success. This is why we say Data Fabric working within a Hybrid IT model is crucial.

Let me explain how it works…

What do we mean by Data Fabric?

Data Fabric is about making the data you want available – putting it wherever you want it, when you want it.

How does that work within Hybrid IT? It doesn’t matter if it’s in public or private cloud, on-premise, or in a low-end or high-end device. Data Fabric is a common language for the movement and management of data.

NetApp has a long history in managing and storing data, but what it’s particularly good at is replicating data and moving it from one place to another efficiently.

Historically we just wanted to squash as much data into one place as possible and have acceptable access speed to save cost. Now we are living in a world where it’s necessary to move data, and lots of it. Fast.

If you’re running edge devices collecting data, such as sensors or IoT, it’s likely you’ll want to process that information in real-time, rather than miss an opportunity.

Responding to events as they happen (be that with a customer, market conditions, or real-life events) at this speed is crucial for the digital companies of today and tomorrow.

A good example of this is omni-channel in retail. This is not just about a sequential experience moving from mobile to digital to in-store.

Leaders in omni-channel analyse their data in real-time; the data collected in-store needs to be assimilated and processed with other data sets as the customer walks the aisles in the virtual or physical store. This is what helps create the experience shoppers expect. Customers already compare prices and check product reviews as they shop, but this creates new opportunities. A retailer might want to respond in real-time to offer dynamic pricing or bespoke discount vouchers, and close a deal with a customer using a mobile phone while they stand in the aisle of a physical store.

That’s a lot of data that has to be brought together before it can be processed. Being able to do that effectively creates the biggest competitive advantage for retailers in this space.

How does it work?

This is fundamentally about harnessing the power of hybrid cloud to integrate cloud data services. This means you can protect and secure data whilst simplifying and automating it.

With data volumes growing exponentially you need a mechanism that’s uniform across all of those experiences. It allows you to accelerate DevOps through agile manipulation of data, enabling you to copy and clone datasets before destructive testing and simply snap them back to previous state in moments when finished. The same capability supports a ‘Fail-safe and Fail-fast’ approach to continuous application development. If a release has to be rolled-back, it is greatly simplified with a simple snap-back in seconds.

Data Fabric creates that common experience no matter what you’re using.

Whether you use a software appliance in AWS or Azure, or you’re using a traditional on-premise storage device, they’re all able to interact in the same Data Fabric environment.

You can quickly see how this plays straight into Hybrid IT; it doesn’t matter where that data sits – it all works and interacts seamlessly.

Compliance is another big thing for this, as is data sovereignty and GDPR. Data Fabric creates that single management tier across on-prem and various clouds, while also ensuring you have a single view of your data and it’s physical location. Giving you a singular view to help you understand what data you are holding and what needs to be done to achieve and remain compliant.

A special partnership between NetApp and Fujitsu

For many enterprises, the first step to a digital transformation will aim to enhance customer experience and involve improvements in the User Interface at the edge of a legacy application architecture.

A typical priority is to create an agile development environment that can respond and innovate quickly. This needs access to a fast or agile IT infrastructure to allow deployment lead times to be drastically reduced. Most organisations turn to public cloud providers such as AWS, Azure or Google, while others will build their own cloud.

As the digital transformation journey progresses the disciplines and techniques are applied deeper into the core application architecture of the organisation. That probably involves moving applications from on-premise into cloud in a Hybrid model.

Data Fabric is ideal for integrating the on-premise data centre assets with a cloud experience. To do that, NetApp provides focused, leading edge capabilities around data management. Fujitsu complements this with a rich set of application knowledge and infrastructure management capabilities, to be the trusted advisor to the customer, as well as providing the control mechanisms for their multi cloud use.

NetApp also provides a strong data transport capability to facilitate movement and deployment in a constantly changing multi-cloud landscape.

When evolving and integrating an enterprise as part of digital transformation it doesn’t happen as a single shot. You don’t transform an entire business overnight – you have this mode of operation where you have second and third platform application architectures working together – but they have different demands on the infrastructure for scaling and resilience.

Data Fabric is ideal for integrating those two environments. It also allows you to move data in an agile way – and a business can start thinking about moving things from one cloud to another.

With digital transformation at the top of the agenda for many businesses, weaving Hybrid IT strategy with data is critical for future success – and the winners in the future will be those who use their data most effectively.

Find out more information on Data Fabric here

Image credit: Kevin Jarrett (via Flickr CC)

Andy Arthur

Words by

Andy is the Global Cloud BDM for NetApp

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