NetApp’s hybrid multi-cloud approach had already been announced at NetApp Insight 2018 in Las Vegas, but the company doubled down on it in Barcelona. “We want to help customers in profiting from an on-premise cloud-like experience”, explained Martin Cooper, Senior Director Solutions Engineering EMEA at NetApp. “That means that the data bases of our customers should function just like a cloud – quickly, seamlessly, independently.” This common theme was reiterated in keynotes, presentations and demonstrations – and can also be found in new products announced at the conference.
NetApp wants to make an on-premise cloud-like experience a reality with its hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). HCI makes it possible to define workloads through public cloud orchestration, but to then deploy them in the customer’s own data center.
To support the system’s functionalities, NetApp announced a few updates and new products at the conference in Barcelona. For example, Azure NetApp Files as a data management service for Microsoft’s cloud, or NetApp SaaS backup for Salesforce for easier, legally secure backups. Furthermore, Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud Platform is now available in Western Europe.
One functionality that was emphasized throughout the conference is Cloud Insights, a SaaS service for infrastructure monitoring. In customers’ data centers, the software scans IP addresses and, within a day, gives the user feedback on his machines and assets currently in operation in his on-premise environment. The tool collects all available data and makes them easy to understand for the user.
Furthermore, Cloud Insights can also be used in the public cloud to gain a holistic overview of all operating systems or to evaluate cost saving potential. To do that, a virtualized workload is transferred from one public cloud to another, so that the user can easily see in which cloud he would pay less.
“Here, you can already see the multi-cloud approach that NetApp is pursuing”, said Peter Wuest, Senior Director Cloud Infrastructure and Cloud Data Services EMEA at NetApp. “All cloud providers look very similar to one another at first glance, but they all have different strengths. Customers want to leverage these different strengths and not be dependent on one sole provider. That’s why we already decided a long time ago that we want to help our customers to escape IT silos and create an open structure to support the use of various clouds as well as that of the own data center. We call that data fabric.”
NetApp and SAP
Moreover, NetApp wants to support SAP customers in migrating to the cloud by giving them a sense of security.
“We want to take the risk out of projects by integrating standardized workflows and tools into the SAP environment”, explained Bernd Herth, Senior Technical Marketing Engineer, Solutions and Integrations SAP at NetApp. “That means that we sort of detach data. And, once detached, SAP data can be easily transferred from on-premise to the cloud. Many of NetApp’s services are available to SAP customers as well. However, they have to consider their own performance requirements, because cloud can have limits, too.”
Another helpful feature for SAP customers: In LaMa (SAP Landscape Management), a SAP data base can be transferred entirely to the cloud with the simple push of a button.
NetApp and DevOps
NetApp is also being active in the area of DevOps. The traditional world of client/server is not viable anymore, and the modern world is very much controlled by developers – like we see in the public cloud. IT is becoming ever more important to companies when talking about tapping into new streams of revenue. With data services and DevOps methods, NetApp wants to support customers in becoming agile.
“DevOps is connecting the traditional and modern world”, said Peter Wuest. “NetApp would make a horrible mistake if it did not have an answer to DevOps but would continue to dwell in the realm of applications and storage.”
Data instead of film
NetApp is working together with DreamWorks to create an individual data fabric for the movie studio. This was already announced at NetApp Insight 2018 in Las Vegas. In Barcelona, Kate Swanborg, Technology Communications and Stretgic Alliances Executive, and Senior Technologist Scott Miller, both DreamWorks, talked about the partnership in more detail.
“For one movie, we create about half a billion files”, explained Scott Miller. “It takes two to four years to make one movie, so we usually work on many projects at once. At times, we can have up to ten movies in active production. That makes 5 billion digital files that have to be stored and managed.”
Since 2006, DreamWorks has been working with NetApp for data management services and to avoid scheduled downtimes, like in the event of an upgrade. The company has two primary clusters, one for feature animations and one for television, as well as one secondary cluster for backup. DreamWorks chose NetApp because its offers reduce latency significantly and therefore improve production and the quality of the movie.
How to train your dragon
Detailed scenes and dynamic action sequences not only require high performance, but also stability of data. DreamWorks’ upcoming movie “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” was used as an example. In the first part of the trilogy, it was nearly impossible to fit three or four dragons into one frame – now, there are usually a couple dozen.
“What we see here is our data”, said Kate Swanborg after the trailer for “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” was shown during the keynote. “DreamWorks is known for making movies. But at the end of the day, what we really make is data. That’s why it is important to us to have a reliable partner for data management.”
What’s to come
NetApp Insight 2018 in Barcelona focused heavily on multi-cloud, and NetApp believes that this will continue to be a global trend. Consequently, it will aim to support customers in orchestrating their own data centers as well as profiting from a multi-cloud approach.
In this context, Peter Wuest said, “Our goal is to give customers freedom of choice as to which cloud they want to use. What we can do is to support them in finding the most suitable one for their needs.”
Furthermore, NetApp will continue to incorporate new, upcoming tools from hyperscalers like AWS or Azure into their offer. This also applies to SAP environments.
“As we roll out new systems and offers, we will continue to make sure that we can make them available in the SAP ecosystem as well”, assures Bernd Herth. “However, this is a long process that is not entirely controlled by us. Nonetheless, we will try to find joint solutions. We know as little as customers about what is to happen in SAP’s cloud and container environment – I, for one, am curious to see in which direction SAP is headed in.”