Build Your Data Fabric at NetApp Insight 2019

“Data” is the gold word in the current tech environment—from protecting data to storing data, to how to best mine and analyze data to solve business problems as well as achieve business value. The top innovators of tech are all in a race to find solutions for, around and about data and NetApp is among them. “Build Your Data Fabric” was in fact the theme of the company’s annual Insight conference this past week in Las Vegas for customers, partners and employees, continuing on the focus it began building with last year’s “Data Driven” theme.

Attendees at 2019’s Insight heard from influencers and experts on how to fuel data-driven innovation in cloud as well as engaged in over 100 breakout sessions, certifications and hands-on labs on NetApp solutions, new tools and case studies. There was also a large solutions showcase area at the NetApp Insight Pavilion that was dedicated to AI, which our team immersed itself in. NetApp had a number of significant developments regarding AI infrastructure that we took note of and are excited about.

With keynotes, numerous networking sessions, as well as live music, entertainment and bowling at the appreciation party, NetApp Insight spilled over with something for everyone, and as one of our attending engineers last year noted, continues to be for data-driven attendees an experience like a kid in Disneyland.

As usual NetApp had a plethora of updates at Insight and this year was no different. Our Top 5 takeaways that we were excited to learn more about at 2019 Insight were:

A Data Fabric Revolution

NetApp first introduced its Data Fabric vision at the 2014 Insight to respond to customer need for a more unified view of enterprise data across multiple internal and external data centers. NetApp’s Data Fabric strategy is to “revolutionize” their Data Fabric, which is what they’ve done with solutions and services for automation, optimization, data protection and securing data that have made them a dominant player in delivering integrated data services in hybrid cloud and allowing customers to adopt and consume cloud on their own terms. True to form with its “Build Your Data Fabric” theme for this year’s Insight, NetApp has recently introduced new solutions and services which include:

  • The Fabric Orchestrator – a new fabric orchestration toolset which provides a cloud data service to help customers discover, manage, automate, and govern all of their data, no matter where it resides.
  • New pay-per-use offerings – which  give customers the flexibility to manage, use and pay for their hybrid multicloud environments. These new cloudlike, on-premises offerings are available in two options.
  • NetApp Cloud Insights – now available as a “freemium” offering with a free Basic edition for NetApp systems that includes NetApp HCI and NetApp AFF systems. This service also includes monitoring and placement optimization for NetApp HCI and NetApp Kubernetes Service in addition to real-time dashboards.
  • New NetApp Professional Services for the Data Fabric – are now available to provide customers with the tools they need to design, implement, automate and orchestrate a data fabric that meets their particular business needs.

New Keystone Platform for Storage Consumption Model

This new hybrid, multi-cloud platform was probably NetApp’s biggest announcement at Insight, which came from CEO George Kurian in his keynote address that kicked off this year’s conference. NetApp Keystone will enable customers to purchase on-premises and cloud-based storage capabilities and not worry about future requirements by allowing data to be migrated as needed across on-premises, private clouds or public clouds and purchased outright or on a consumption model. According to NetApp, Keystone will allow companies to lessen the complexities associated with data storage acquisition and consumption and give them “a clear, easy-to-understand path forward for managing IT.” Indeed, “simplification” for its customers was a key goal reiterated at this year’s Insight.

NetApp ONTAP AI with NVIDIA for Scalable AI Infrastructure

When organizations don’t pay attention to the challenges of AI infrastructure, they can find themselves suddenly saddled with longer deployment time and increased costs, among other things. To help customers alleviate these potential negatives, NetApp and NVIDIA introduced the ONTAP AI-Ready Data Center, a fully optimized and tested AI infrastructure for AI workloads. Powered by NVIDIA’s DGX-1 and DGX-2 AI systems along with NetApp’s cloud-connected all-flash storage, ONTAP AI is a complete AI infrastructure that is ready to run and provides scalable results without expending IT and AI resources in design and deployment.

Running AI Workloads at Scale with Kubernetes, Trident and Kubeflow
Again speaking to the unique challenges of AI—two of the big challenges that organizations face as they adopt AI are workload scalability and data availability. Kubeflow running on a Kubernetes environment makes it simple to implement and scale AI workloads across multiple GPUs and nodes with NetApp Trident providing seamless access to persistent data across nodes and regions. Kubeflow is an open source AI and machine learning toolkit for Kubernetes that makes deployments of AI and ML workloads on Kubernetes simple, portable and scalable. Trident is an open source orchestrator that simplifies the creation, management and consumption of persistent storage for Kubernetes workloads. Together the trio composes a solution that allows users to execute AI workloads at scale.

NetApp Cloud Services with Major Cloud Service Providers
NetApp Cloud Data Services enables customers to take advantage of cloud innovation with enterprise data services that are consistently delivered across their choice of cloud providers. NetApp recently announced new enhancements to its cloud services which include a new Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Google Cloud which offers the performance, availability and data protection capabilities that companies need to run their applications in Google Cloud. Microsoft also recently announced the availability of Azure NetApp Files, a powerful file storage service to run demanding file workloads in Azure without needing code modification, that is built on NetApp’s ONTAP technology. NetApp also recently announced a beta release of Cloud Volumes Service for Google Cloud back in June, 2019, a fully managed, pay-as-you-go data service across leading cloud providers AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.

The Simplification Vision

As noted earlier, there was a recurring theme of “simplification” at NetApp, with a stated company goal of simplicity for its customers in managing complex IT infrastructures, data services and cloud movement. The company’s vision for its partners also focused on simplicity and enabling partners such as Groupware to respond quickly to our customers’ rapidly changing business needs with simple all in one data management solutions such as ONTAP and its updates. From what we saw at Insight, the Data Fabric is strong with NetApp.

Calvin Nguyen is a Senior Solutions Engineer for Groupware Technology.