Take a Second Look at NetApp HCI It Will Surprise You Part 3

In our first two parts we have looked at the HCI landscape and how NetApp HCI does things differently and what advanced features it has over the other vendors in this space. In this final piece we look at how to truly position NetApp HCI to win.

HCI or not HCI

There are some vendors and even some analysts pushing back and saying: “well NetApp’s HCI isn’t true HCI “to which you should ask them “What is true HCI?” or “what is the definition of HCI” to which you can reply “there isn’t a single definition of HCI.” It is also worth noting that Gartner states: “NetApp is a leader in network-attached storage and has acted as an Evolutionary Disruptor by introducing its NetApp HCI solution.”

In a recent 451 Research survey they asked respondents the role they see HCI would have within two years to their organisation’s infrastructure deployment strategy? It was interesting to see that 71% said simplify infrastructure management and maintenance and the next two top answers were accelerated provisioning and or optimisation; and support a hybrid cloud strategy.

Improved hardware integration simplified management and reduced TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of HCI is driving its adoption. Customers are asking for simplicity from a single vendor that they can hold accountable and reduce the overall complexity of their environments. They require hardware that is agile and allows them to realise the power of software defined infrastructure. They are looking for new ways of transforming their purchasing, looking at ways that will move them from a large capital expenditure (CAPEX) to an operational expenditure (OPEX) or even a pay as you go cloud like model. They want a solution that can lower the total cost of ownership and reduce the time to see a return on investment (ROI) and then some. They are asking for a platform that has a granular incremental growth model that can properly make use of scale out economics. Then to top this off the purchase is probably being driven by the virtualisation or line of business teams rather than the infrastructure compute or storage teams of old. So if these are the responses we are getting from customers they does NetApp HCI not conform to the ideal??

Hybrid Cloud

There are three drivers of digital transformation, the speed at which you can innovate, how quickly you can bring that to market, and improved customer experience. So if NetApp HCI can supply seamless scalability, portability, performance and easy automation; if it can connect to public cloud providers, manage data ingress and egress to the public cloud; run applications and microservices; if it can solve the problems that IT professions see will plague them within two years today; if it can overcome performance bottle necks and increase VM consolidation and avoid various first generation HCI taxes all the while let IT organisations evolve to a mode 2 operation strategy why would you not want your customers to get their hands on this wonderful piece of kit.

Not only can NetApp HCI talk the talk, it can walk the walk. So, let’s shake things up let’s go out there to disrupt the norm and what people think infrastructure can do, let’s be bold and confident in a platform that delivers a plethora of abilities and let’s change what the HCI initialism means from Hyper Converged Infrastructure to Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure.

Take a Second Look at NetApp HCI It Will Surprise You Part 2

In part one we discussed the HCI marketplace and how NetApp HCI differs from other vendors in this space. In this article we will look at some of the other functionality NetApp HCI brings to the conversation, but first let’s look at private cloud.

Private Cloud

As cloud services from the likes of AWS started to take off and the problem of shadow IT emerged, application admins and developers started asking for the similar as a Service infrastructure available within an organisation to try and deliver their project correctly, this in turn made the infrastructure teams look at bimodal IT practices and start transitioning over to the mode 2 way of deploying applications. With this we see a migration towards private cloud for more and more organisations as they implement technology that allows them to provide IT resources that can be consumed at will, closely monitored, controlled by code. This ability to automate tasks is key to transitioning to a private cloud from your current server room.

To help IT organisations realise this vision, with VMware integration there is the ability to implement vRealize Suite. vRealize Operations management pack provides insights detailed monitoring and reporting; vRealize Orchestrator so you can really start to utilise the deep API integration and define workflows to heavily automate the environment. Then there is the Storage Replication Adapter for Site Recovery Manager to simplify the process in the event of a disaster. You can implement VMware’s NSX technology to give you the ability to define and control virtual networks and their security that comprise completely of software. It is worth noting that if you prefer to use Powershell, Java, Python, Ansible, Puppet or Chef for your automation you are free to do that too.

So if you have a NetApp HCI environment strengthened by VMware’s vRealize suite and then by presenting a self-service portal backed by a catalogue of services you can deploy couple, this with the ability to monitor the usage and provide a charge back mechanism you can find yourself transitioning from being pools of compute or pools of capacity to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS). Which can be a key part of a digital transformation strategy; but that’s a topic for another day.


Sometimes your IT ecosystem has extra requirements and there are several of note that NetApp HCI can help you address on top of providing a best in class platform for your virtual environment.

If your application(s) requires some form of NAS then don’t forget that the NetApp Deployment Engine can setup a virtual node of NetApp Select for vNAS functionality in your vSphere environment providing you with practically all that functionality that ONTAP brings to table.

Now what if you were to stick Red Hat on top of the VMware and then utilise Kubernetes along with the NetApp Trident Orchestrator you suddenly find yourself in an environment that can run microservices with persistent storage, now if you are going to be running hundreds or even thousands of microservices you will most definitely want a way to control their performance via gQoS and this is another strong case to utilise NetApp HCI.

Another functionality of note is the fact that with NetApp HCI you can exploit what NetApp are calling the Open Storage Model, whereby if you have a requirement for some storage by an application that resides outside of the NetApp HCI environment and you have the capacity and performance available; you can connect these other compute platforms to the required storage.

Data Fabric

The Data Fabric is NetApp’s vision for the future of data management whether that be using on-premises public or hybrid cloud the data fabric ensures the right cloud for the right workload. It allows for consistent and integrated data services gives you the power to control access wrap security and gain deep insights into your organisations data.

One of the key areas of the Data Fabric is the ability to move your data to where it is best suited for the application and at the core of this are couple of NetApp technologies. The primary one would be the worlds number one storage operating system, ONTAP’s replication technology -SnapMirror. Originally designed to help with data protection and disaster recovery this technology provides the ability to transfer data from not only systems running ONTAP like AFF, FAS, ONTAP Select and Cloud Volumes ONTAP but also to systems now running Element OS (the operating system of the storage within NetApp HCI) in bi-directional relationships. A second major feature of the Data Fabric transfer is the use of FabricPool. This tiering technology allows the ONTAP system to granularity transfer cold and or secondary data off this performance tier to an S3 connected bucket, the capacity tier, whether that be provided by NetApp’s content repository software StorageGRID or from AWS and Azure.

Join us for the third and final part of this series where we will be looking at the main reasons why NetApp HCI differs from the rest of the players in this market space.