This post – NetApp Goes to the Cloud – is my review of materials presented at #TFD20.
NetApp’s 1st presentation at #TFD20 was about NetApp’s cloud strategy. I was very excited to see Nick Howell (aka @DatacenterDude), NetApp’s Global Field CTO for Cloud Data Services, there to greet us and kick things off. I’ve always known him to be knowledgeable, visionary, and a bit controversial. All of my favorite things! And I was psyched to see how he was going to frame his conversation.
Infrastructure Admin’s Journey to the Cloud
Nicks’ presentation was titled “OK, Now What?” An Infrastructure Admin’s Journey to the cloud.
He set up the history of things for datacenter admins, and how quickly they need use their existing skills to pivot if they’re going to support cloud. I liked this slide highlighting historical design patterns for datacenters.
He gave a great overview of the struggles IT Ops folks will need to go through in order to support their organization’s move to the cloud: new training, new certs, etc. It will take effort to get up to speed from a technical perspective.
NetApp Goes to the Cloud
Of course, the message was how easy NetApp makes it for their customers to get to “the cloud” using NetApp Cloud Data Services. He brought in the Google Cloud Partner of the Year award that NetApp was awarded this year’s at Google Next. To me, that makes it obvious they are doing the hard integration work to enable hybrid cloud with NetApp storage.
They’ve been at this for a few years after hiring an exec to run a cloud business in 2017, and acquiring cloud startups (Greenqloud 2017, StackPointCloud 2018). Two years later, NetApp has built a suite of cloud products that are delivered in the cloud, as-a-Service, by NetApp.
They have an IaaS offering called CVO (Cloud Volumes ONTAP), which is a virtual version of ONTAP in the cloud which allows customers to do everything they would do with ONTAP on prem plus more in the three major public cloud services. They have a free trial if you’re interested in kicking the tires. There are also two PaaS offerings called CVS (AWS Cloud Volumes, Google Cloud Volumes) and ANF (Azure NetApp Files).
They are building a control plane, that Nick compared to vCenter, called Fabric Orchestrator. It will give a global view of all data, no matter where the data resides. You’ll have oversight and management control from this control plan. This is set to launch in 2020.
NetApp Kubernetes Service
While this is great work to provide the services to make NetApp hybrid architectures possible, what can you *do* with it? Data capacity exists to host applications, and the way to orchestrate modern applications is Kubernetes.
NetApp has their own Kubernetes service that they call NKS. It is a pure upstream Kubernetes play, and they support the latest release within a week. It has been built to provision, maintain, and do lifecycle management no mater the cloud on which it runs.
From everything we were shown, if you’re a NetApp customer you have lots of opportunity on which cloud to use as you build a hybrid and/or multi-cloud strategy. You have a a cloud organization that understands your fears and pains, and they are working to make cloud as easy as possible for you.
NetApp seems to have the right team and attitude to make multi-cloud a reality for their customers. They’ve built a cloud team from cloud native veterans to drive this strategy. They seem to be very intent on shepherding traditional operations teams into the new cloud native era. Will this be enough to span the digital transformation gap? Only time will tell.