March 28, 2013, 4:06 PM — A new partnership will allow customers to host dedicated NetApp storage infrastructure in Equinix data centers to provide fast connections up into Amazon Web Service's cloud.
With the addition of NetApp filers being available in Equinix data centers, customers can combine public cloud compute resources from Amazon Web Services (AWS) with dedicated storage from NetApp in Equinix's data centers, with minimal latency connections between the two. "We're enabling private storage for the public compute cloud," says Greg Adgate, general manager of global alliances and partnerships for Equinix.
The move highlights the increased interest among customers to have hybrid cloud deployments that combine some elements of public cloud resources, while still having dedicated hardware for certain aspects, such as the storage. In the past, this has been difficult to architect because of the latency connections between the public cloud and private sites.
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Equinix and AWS already had a partnership allowing direct connections for customers into AWS's cloud from Equinix data centers. Similarly, AWS and NetApp had a partnership allowing customers to synchronize NetApp hardware appliances on their own sites with similar hardware in AWS's cloud. Those partnerships are basically being merged.
The real advantage, Equinix says, are the low latencies that Equinix can offer to customers. Adgate says Equinix advertises sub-5 millisecond latency connections between the NetApp hardware in its data centers and AWS's cloud, but tests have shown sub 1-millisecond latencies. One of the keys to achieving that is that Equinix has data centers in close proximity to AWS' infrastructure.
Equinix, for example, this year expanded its data center footprint in AWS's backyard in Seattle. The company has other data centers in Virginia, where AWS's largest U.S.-East region is. Equinix has 90 sites across the globe, most of which are in major metropolitan hubs. Equinix has a history of providing fiber interconnections for service providers, as well as selling cloud and collocation space directly to business consumers.
While Amazon Web Services is seen by many as the market-leading public cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider, one feature the company does not have is a private cloud offering that can sit on a customer's own premises, behind their own firewall.
To address this, AWS has partnered with companies like NetApp and Equinix. AWS also has a virtual private cloud (VPC) offering, which are essentially AWS cloud resources on dedicated hardware, but still in Amazon's data centers. This new partnership agreement between the companies is an evolution of that strategy.
Meanwhile, other cloud service providers offering more robust hybrid cloud offerings. Rackspace, for example, has a free distribution of OpenStack users can roll out in their data centers, which creates a common architecture between the company's public cloud and users' private clouds. VMware is hoping to achieve this hybrid cloud offering with the launch of its VMware-sponsored public cloud later this year as well.