Cleondris expands and secures Ontap storage

With a sole focus on NetApp’s Ontap platform, Swiss publisher Cleondris provides vendor Sunnyvale’s customers with additional components for storage, including an offering on Amazon Web Services.

Founded in Switzerland in 2006 by Christian Plattner, publishing house Cleondris was best known for its Phonak hearing aid software, later a provisioning system for cable operators in Europe. “Everything was necessary to ensure the survival of the start-up”, the company’s CEO, Christian Plattner, told us during a European IT Press Tour in Lisbon in early December. “About 10 years ago, if you turned on your UPC modem somewhere in Europe, it was my software that made sure everything worked smoothly. And then, in 2010, I was approached by someone who told me about a very interesting project in Germany with NetApp”. The specialized storage vendor sold a large VMware bank customer a large Ontap setup in an ESXi environment with a backup system with a user interface for support.

“The last one never worked, so the customer was very upset. And the NetApp team came and said to me, you have four weeks to actually deliver what he has on this PowerPoint slide; Netapp General Management in Sunnyvale asked them to resolve the issue locally […] So I went to meet them at their offices in Frankfurt and the problem was basically that they needed a front end to support VMware environments on NetApp. So tech support can work with backup and restore […] That’s what we did and that’s how we got into this NetApp business. Today, I position the company as a complementary software provider for NetApp customers,” continued the company’s long-winded executive.

Since 2010, Cleondris has only developed complementary solutions for NetApp and VMware, nothing for Dell EMC or HPE. Maintaining the trust of distributors and resellers of NetApp solutions is fundamental to Cleondris’ business model, said the executive, which is why the company does not promote competing products. Among the tools marketed by the Swiss publisher is Data Manager, which extends Ontap’s backup options to S3 environments using SnapMirror Cloud technology. With Ontap API integration, Cleondris backs up Ontap data using Sunnyvale’s native vendor transfer mechanism to public cloud or on-premises S3 object platforms. Swiss also provides an index that allows you to search and restore files and directories from S3 to Ontap. The second tool from the Swiss publisher, Cleondris HCC, is an add-on for SolidFire, which has been put on hold by NetApp.

The Cleondris virtual appliance, based on CentOS and PostgreSQL, controls all the Swiss publisher’s modules. (SL credit)

Immutable status for files

Cleondris’ latest module is called SnapGuard and comes to block ransomware attacks. “SnapGuard is our ransomware protection solution for NetApp systems that has been in development since 2016. The reason this product exists is that I was approached by NetApp employees, who told me, we have customers who complain about ransomware attacks and don’t know what to do. Awaiting the arrival of our own ransomware protection [effectif depuis Ontap 9.10.1] – which will take at least five years – we have to help customers” Christian Plattner was therefore able to access certain Ontap resources, such as FPolicy, to develop protection against ransomware in just a few weeks. FPolicy is an Ontap component that allows partner applications connected to storage systems to monitor and set file access permissions. And if a file is declared immutable, no one can change its status. In 2016, Cleondris implemented a copy policy and then set the copies to immutable, and this was the foundation of SnapGuard’s ransomware protection system. “Of course, it was just the zero point one version of the product and it has grown in the meantime. And, very quickly, we were known as a software company that was able to solve problems very quickly.”

With Amazon FSx for Ontap, Cleondris extends its offering into the AWS cloud. (SL credit)

Cleondris is also coming to the AWS Marketplace with Amazon FSx for Ontap, which brings data management capabilities (NFS, SMS, and iSCSI) to the AWS Cloud, combining the benefits of block and file storage in a single solution. Amazon FSx for Ontap provides high availability while ensuring consistency of automatically replicated data across multiple Availability Zones.

Cleondris employs around ten people today, but not all of them work in Switzerland, the CEO tells us. The latter specified that the company was always profitable and never raised external funds. Finally, note that Cleondris is not the only one interested in the NetApp ecosystem, Austrian publisher Prolion also offers tools for Ontap and, in particular, an anti-ransomware module.

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