NetApp Insight

Author: Rowena Samuel, Senior Field Solutions Architect, CDW Canada

Last month I attended the annual NetApp Insight conference, which is NetApp’s technical update that was held virtually this year. In addition to being online rather than in-person, this year’s conference was formatted a little differently with shorter 20-minute technical briefs rather than longer more in-depth sessions, and a lot of content from cloud partners and customer stories. The focus of this year’s Insight conference was solely on cloud and hybrid cloud deployments, as well as NetApp’s recent acquisition of Spot, a leader in compute management and cost optimization in the public clouds, and the new Spot offering they intend to launch.

The conference kicked off with the expected keynote from George Kurian, CEO and president of NetApp, who delivered messages of modernization, simplification and automation, while building on NetApp’s 28 years of data management experience and hybrid cloud capabilities. As part of his presentation various cloud partners such as Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google and IBM were all invited to speak to their joint solutions. The keynote also showcased some customers stories, like Astra Zeneca who spoke about their experience using the NetApp Data Fabric solution and how it is assisting with their Kubernetes containerization and microservices journey and collaboration as they modernize their applications and application infrastructure.

Major Technology Announcements at NetApp Insight

From a technical perspective, the major announcements this year where around Spot by NetApp, NetApp Virtual Desktop services and an update release of ONTAP 9.8. Spot by NetApp definitely received the lion’s share of the spotlight and shows NetApp’s continuing investment in solutions and technologies that support and add value for customers looking to modernize applications with Kubernetes containerization and microservices. Cost control and visibility in the cloud is a challenge for many customers as they move more and more workloads into the cloud. If you are a NetApp customer and you are working on Kubernetes containerization and moving your applications to the cloud, Spot by NetApp is an offering that you should check out.

Below we will take a deeper look at some of the announcements made at the conference:

Spot by NetApp

NetApp acquired Spot in July 2020. Spot is an optimization solution for reducing the cost of running application-driven infrastructures in the public cloud. Since the acquisition, NetApp has launched Spot by NetApp which uses analytics and machine learning to monitor Kubernetes containerized applications running in the cloud and continuously adapt cloud compute and storage to the needs of the application. It can automatically adjust and deliver as much compute and storage as required for an application to perform, without over provisioning. It also promises visibility into the cost of containers running in the cloud and delivers full end-to-end optimization.

Since acquiring Spot, NetApp has been working on plans for developing the product and integrating with their existing portfolio. At Insight there were three main announcements of enhancements in the Spot portfolio; Spot Storage, Ocean for Microsoft Azure and the Spot Cloud Analyzer with integration into NetApp’s existing Cloud Manager product.

  • Spot Storage is not yet released with the expected availability in the December 2020 to January 2021 timeframe. Spot Storage will utilize NetApp storage technology to continuously optimize storage based on application needs by either moving storage between tiers dynamically to meet performance demands or dynamically sizing and shaping volumes based on application needs. Customers using Spot will be able to simply define their storage needs and Spot Storage will automate the rest including provisioning, growing and adjusting storage as the application runs.
  • Ocean for Azure will bring the capabilities of Spot Ocean to Azure customers. Spot Ocean is a serverless infrastructure engine currently only available for AWS that provides an application scaling service, similar to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Auto Scaling groups. It is designed to optimize performance and costs by leveraging Spot Instances combined with On Demand and Reserved Instances to offer Kubernetes infrastructure automation and optimization in Azure. This functionality is also pre-release with the expected availability in spring of 2021. There were other support announcements for Spot in Azure as well, with support for Spot Eco and the Cloud Spot Analyzer also available in Azure in the December 2020 to January 2021 timeframe.
  • Cloud Spot Analyzer. Available now, this analyzer is the Spot tool that provides a centralized solution offering insights and guidance for optimizing cloud compute. The integration into Cloud Manager allows users to easily access the Spot platform directly from Cloud Manager, and vice versa for existing Spot customers.

NetApp Virtual Desktop Managed Service (VDMS)

NetApp announced their Virtual Desktop Managed Service (VDMS). Built on the NetApp Virtual Desktop service, VDMS provides a turnkey, managed solution for end-to-end VDI needs. This cloud service offering allows businesses to have an option to reduce the complexity of VDI provisioning, orchestration and management by outsourcing these functions to NetApp, without investing in IT staff or incremental cloud investment to operate.

ONTAP 9.8

Enhancements to ONTAP in the newrelease focus on efficiency, simplicity and security with a promise of storage efficiency increases of 33%. The new version of is now available and reachable via a standard upgrade process.

A few of the enhancements to call out are:

  • FlexCache® has been expanded to include support for SMB, opening up even more workloads
  • A new feature is introduced called SnapMirror® Business Continuity (SMBC) that allows the addition of cost-effective, instant failover for business applications such as SAP and Oracle
  • ONTAP 9.8 also adds support for object storage by delivering S3 protocol access. By adding support for object storage, organizations can create a unified, simplified environment for all their workloads across file, block and object storage

Overall, we came out of NetApp Insight excited for the direction in which NetApp is moving this year. It is very clear that NetApp is continuing to focus their attention on the hybrid cloud and offering relevant value to their customers as the market shifts. We were only able to cover a few of the bigger announcements here, however additional sessions are available online to those who wish to registered as attendees until January 15, 2021 here. To learn more about our NetApp solutions and expertise, visit our website.

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