NetApp extends data fabric with DevOps announcements

NetApp made a flurry of announcements on Wednesday at Insight extending their data fabric, with special relevance to developers and architects, emphasizing their cloud-first focus, and articulating their hybrid and multi-cloud proposition.

Brad Anderson, SVP and GM, Cloud Infrastructure at NetApp, onstage at Insight 2018

LAS VEGAS — In case anyone hadn’t get NetApp’s message that they are now a cloud company, they reminded people at their NetApp Insight event here today. Following yesterday’s series of cloud announcements, NetApp made a series of DevOps focused announcements. They announced a new verified architecture for Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform on NetApp HCI. They also announced updates to Trident, and enhancements to their Cloud Volumes Service for AWS and for Google Cloud Platform. And, in probably the most meaningful part of this series of announcements, they reminded the event that just before it began they had acquired StackPointCloud, giving NetApp a Kubernetes-as-a-service platform.

“With these announcements, we are extending our data fabric, and showing its breadth to a greater extent than anyone else,” said Brad Anderson, SVP and GM, Cloud Infrastructure at NetApp. “We are also continuing to show our cloud-first bent. We are knocking down the idea that we aren’t a cloud-first company. We are able to offer a hybrid and multi-cloud proposition, where customers have the exact same experience in the cloud as on-prem.”

“We’ve built an industry-leading portfolio of services for our traditional customers, and increasingly, we now have relevance for architects as well,” said Anthony Lye, SVP and GM of the NetApp Cloud Data Services Business Unit. “NetApp Cloud Data Services deploy, run, monitor and manage services on these public clouds, so you don’t have to. This service-based model lets organizations focus on the top part of the problem – the applications and the data.”

A key new service announced at the event leverages NetApp’s partnership with Red Hat to deploy Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform on NetApp HCI Verified Architecture to enable DevOps to better manage containers in the private cloud.

“A lot of enterprise customers have this, and they asked us for this added service,” Anderson said.

“This is a big deal,” said John Woodall, VP of Engineering, at Palo Alto-based NetApp partner Integrated Archive Systems. “You have to take care of VMware first on HCI, but after that, containers and OpenShift are important. We have customers who are moving to OpenShift on the Red Hat side, so being able to offer this is the right move. It helps them address ‘only VMware’ questions. HyperV is now a waste of time and money. It’s moving to containers that is the level of extreme abstraction that customers have interest in.”

NetApp also announced that Trident, their open source automated storage provisioner for Docker, Kubernetes, and Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, has now been significantly enhanced. It now supports NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, supports backup and restore using NetApp Snapshot copies, and offers full multi-cloud support.

“We see containers as the OS of the future,” said Nancy Hart, Senior Director of Cloud Infrastructure Marketing at NetApp. “Trident means that developers don’t have to manage storage.” The enhanced support makes for a much more consistent management experience.

Integrated Archive Systems’ Woodall emphasized the importance of this to his company.

“Containers are so important, and what Trident does is essential,” he said. “If you own a Kubernetes platform and you own the storage under it and you can make it work on the hyperscalers, and on-prem, that’s a very differentiated story. NetApp’s competitors don’t have that story. This is all part of how this is a completely different NetApp from four years ago.”

NetApp also made a major addition to their services offerings just before this event, when they announced the acquisition of StackPointCloud.

“We are incredible fans and contributors to the Kubernetes open source product, as well as Istio, and we have contributed our own work to the project on Trident,” Lye said “Why should we be involved? There is no doubt that Kubernetes has won. Everyone will need to understand how to use and deploy that technology on public and private clouds. But customers tell us the biggest problem with Kubernetes is how it manages storage, and that’s what Trident does.  You will be able to deploy public cloud services onto your private cloud. Only NetApp has this control plane across the public cloud and your NetApp HCI infrastructure.”

“Kudos to NetApp for moving so quickly in doing this,” Woodall said. “NetApp had to have a Kubernetes offering, because Cisco does and Microsoft is doing it with Red Hat. The day they announced you could build a cluster with StackPointCloud, it means that this would pull the rest of NetApp along nicely as they move at a high rate of innovation.”

NetApp also announced significant enhancements to Cloud Volumes for Google Cloud Platform, and to NetApp Cloud Volumes for AWS.

“These are huge for us,” said Richard Losier, VP of Technology at Stittsville ON-based cloud solution provider Britesky. “We have people here at Insight taking classes on them, and our developers are working with them.”

Finally, Anderson emphasized NetApp HCI’s centrality to NetApp’s cloud services strategy, explaining in his keynote why HCI – which most people identify with a box – is in his cloud infrastructure unit.

“The cloud infrastructure unit helps customers built their own cloud and accelerate new services,” he said. “We launched our HCI two weeks after Insight last year. It’s not about the box, or feeds and speeds. It’s about the services you can deliver – just like the biggest cloud providers. We are delivering more than the HCI. The complete HCI experience, which no one else can deliver, is the same experience on-prem as in the cloud. When we talk about HCI, its really about HYBRID CLOUD INFRASTRUCTURE. That’s our focus, to deliver the hybrid multi-cloud experience.”

Mike Smith, President of Ottawa-area solutions provider Decisive Technologies, said that his company has used the NetApp HCI in this way, with considerable success.

“HCI can be easy, but we orchestrate the top part, so we can do it as public cloud, hybrid cloud or private cloud that you can manage yourself or manage it through us,” he said. “We’ve been something of the poster child for this, and have been going gangbusters with it.”