16.05.2023 | Blog Efficient Search in NetApp Data Storage Solutions

To search billions of documents effectively and in real time – a number commonly managed in NetApp storage solutions – requires extremely powerful tools. When existing solutions are not enough, IT departments need to find new ways.

The challenges of searching NetApp storage solutions

The IT department of an organization that manages their data with NetApp storage solutions has chosen it for good reasons: NetApp storage solutions are particularly powerful, robust, offer high security, and are perfect for large and growing data volumes. Companies and government agencies can use them to manage billions of documents.

Precisely because so much data can be managed with NetApp storage solutions, the question for IT managers is: What are the options for searching these immense volumes of documents so that employees have the information they need at their fingertips with just a few clicks?

The challenge here is the following: Over time, more and more data accumulate on the file shares. If an employee is looking for a specific document, they need to know exactly where it was previously stored. Once the employee has found the document, they still cannot be sure whether the content is relevant to their work at all. If another colleague in the department has edited and updated the document in the meantime, the user is unaware of this and sometimes works with a file that is long out of date.

What could be the solution for this use case? The storage operating system ONTAP supports different client protocols like NFS, SMB, etc. For example, users can access files in NetApp ONTAP via Windows (SMB) or Linux (NFS).

So far so good: It is possible to navigate through the file system via Windows Explorer and to move from one folder to the next. It is also possible to search for files, but the search goes through every single directory. If there are many directories, it can take an extremely long time to go through the directory tree recursively from top to bottom - the storage operating system just doesn't have an index or catalog of all searchable files. 

When petabytes of data are involved, searching for a specific file on NetApp ONTAP is not really possible with the existing means. For this reason, alternatives are needed.

The advantages of an intelligent search for mass data

The IT department of our sample organization, while researching possible solutions, realizes: The only real alternative is to index the data with an AI-based enterprise search software that synchronizes all changes in the file system in real time via a push connector. This is the only way to search not only structural metadata (e.g., name, type, author, etc.), but also semantic metadata (AI classifications), and to search entire files in NetApp with a full-text search as well.

With iFinder NetApp Search software, IT departments can rely on an easy-to-deploy solution and provide employees with straightforward access to work-related documents - from petabytes of stored data.

What makes the search solution so powerful?

  1. iFinder NetApp Search searches metadata and full text from petabyte-sized datasets on NetApp filers.
  2. The NetApp certified push connector (a unique selling point of the software) ensures that the search index is always up to date. The connection to the FPolicy service with the NetApp ONTAP connector ensures that all changes are immediately taken over in the index - changed or deleted documents, but also changes in access rights, are immediately updated in the index and also available in the search.
  3. This means that no tedious crawling is necessary, which reduces the load on the IT infrastructure.
  4. The software is easy to install, manage and scale.
  5. The software offers secure search, as it automatically takes over access rights from the index. Further assignment of permissions and roles via search profiles is easily possible.
  6. The software is multi-client capable for different locations, subsidiaries or divisions and thus offers the possibility to manage different clients in one index.
  7. In addition to the NetApp storage solutions, IT departments can connect additional data sources such as Confluence, SharePoint, websites, or Jira to the search and thus expand the solution to an enterprise-wide search.

Convenient search experience for happy users

Many organizations and their IT departments that use NetApp storage appreciate the technological capabilities of iFinder NetApp Search. For example, a German government agency with security-related tasks has connected nearly 300 million documents to the search solution, and a large international university has connected as many as 6 billion documents. The search works reliably - on the one hand, when it comes to connecting immense volumes of documents and, on the other hand, when thousands of users access the system simultaneously every day.

Users are not aware of the powerful processes in the background of the software, but they experience the fast, always up-to-date results.  Using a simple search field, they receive relevant hits that they can narrow down further with meaningful filters, as they are familiar with from online stores, for example. They don't have to laboriously work through long documents but can already see the corresponding text snippets containing the search term highlighted in color in the document preview of the resulting hits. In this way, they can find the relevant information they need for their work with just a few clicks.

Relevant hits are provided by in-depth linguistic functions of the software, which – for example – also consider derivatives of words, synonyms, morphemes (smallest independent word units) and phrases with similar meanings. The linguistic analysis tool supports over 30 languages, recognizes proper names of persons, places and organizations. Additionally, an AI-based metadata search and automated metadata enrichment further enhances the relevance of search results. For example, large volumes of data in NetApp storage systems can be easily searched for personal data as part of a GDPR analysis.

Recommendation: approach the topic of search proactively

The IT department of an organization doesn't have to wait until it is approached by a business department with the desire to find information faster. When IT proactively brings a solution like iFinder NetApp Search into play, everyone will be grateful – the users for the fast results and the management for the increased efficiency of the employees.

Ultimately, two professional solutions intertwine here: the NetApp storage solution, which enables the organization and its IT department to store and manage billions of documents, and iFinder NetApp Search, which enables employees to quickly find the one relevant piece of information they need to do their jobs in these huge volumes of data.


In today's fast-paced business environment, employees need secure, fast and easy access to relevant information to efficiently complete their tasks. Integrating enterprise search solutions such as iFinder with NetApp storage systems can significantly improve the search experience by providing lightning-fast full-text searches, advanced linguistic support, real-time indexing, and robust security features. IT departments that proactively invest in such solutions can expect to increase employee productivity and satisfaction by making it easier for users to find and access the information they need. This is also measurable in terms of ROI calculation. Feel free to contact me about this.

Related Articles


Search and knowledge management for Big Data

With the intelligent full-text search of IntraFind, users of NetApp storage solutions can find relevant information in huge amounts of data within seconds.
Read article
Net App iFinder Search

iFinder NetApp Search

Our software for powerful searching in NetApp file services with real-time indexing.
Learn more

The author

Manuel Brunner
Partner & Key Account Manager
Manuel Brunner has been working for Intrafind since 2008 and is an expert on search technologies. From his many years of experience as head of the Professional Services team, he knows exactly how to implement successful search projects in partnership with companies and public authorities. Since 2016 he has been in charge of the partner channel and takes care of key accounts in terms of sales.
Manuel Brunner