Why GCP Anthos on NetApp HCI is a big deal?

Google Cloud & NetApp announced a new validated design with GKE running on NetApp HCI on-premise.

Read what you might miss from NetApp announcements during Aug-Nov 2019 compressed into a single article.

Kubernetes was originally designed by Google, Google is one of the main contributors to Docker, and obviously the most advanced, mature & stable on the market. If you tried GKE in GCP & other competitive solutions, you know what I’m talking about.

Containers on-premises are difficult when you want to make Enterprise solution for new containerized applications on-premises for number of reasons: Installation, configuration, management, updates of your core infrastructure components, persistent & performant & predictable storage performance, DevOps do not want to deal with infrastructure they want just consume it. These are the key problems to solve and NetApp aims to do it.

NVA-1141: NetApp HCI with Anthos. NVA Design/Deployment

Bullet points why Google Anthos on NetApp HCI is an important announcement:

  • Hybrid cloud. NetApp according to its Data fabric vision, continue to bring hybrid cloud experience to its users in the flash. Now with Anthos on HCI your on-prem data center becomes just another cloud zone. Software updates for GKE & Anthos are on Google’s shoulders, you just consume it. Not just NetApp HCI maintenance like software & firmware updates can be bought as a service, but space as well. You can pay as you go & consume infrastructure as a service: OPEX instead of CAPEX by request with NetApp Keystone
  • NetApp Kubernetes Services (NKS) In addition to NetApp NKS which allows for the deployment & management of on-premises & in the cloud kubernetes clusters, Anthos provides the ability to deploy clusters on-prem and fully integrated with Google Cloud, including the ability to manage from the GKE console. NKS bundled with Istio, Helm & many other components for your microservices which puts DevOps to the next level. Cloud infrastructure on-premises reached your data center
  • Storage automation. NetApp Trident is literally the most advanced storage driver for containers at the market so far which brings automation, API and persistent storage to containerization world. NetApp Trident with NKS & Anthos totally make sense. Speaking about Automation, NetApp Ansible playbooks are also the most advanced on the market at the moment with 106 published & supported modules, and SolidFire itself is known as fully API-driven storage, so you can work with it solely through RESTful API
  • Simple, predictive and performant enterprise storage with QoS whether on-prem or in the cloud: use Trident and Ansible with NetApp HCI on-prem or CVO or CVS in AWS, Azure or GCP, moreover replicate your data to the cloud for DR or Test/Dev
  • NetApp HCI vs other HCI solutions. One of the most notable HCI competitor is Nutanix so I want to use it as an example. Nutanix’s storage architecture with local disk drives certainly interesting but not unique and obviously have some architectural disadvantages, scalability was one issue to name. Local disk drives are blessing & great news for tiny solutions and not so good of idea when you need to scale it up, cheapness of a small solution with commodity HW & local drives might turn into curse at scale. That’s why Nutanix eventually developed dedicated storage nodes connected over the network to overcome the issue while stepping to the very competitive lend of network storage systems. Because dedicated storage nodes connected over the network is not something new & unique for Nutanix, there are plenty of capable & scalable network storage systems out there. Therefore, most exciting part of Nutanix is their ecosystem & simplicity not the storage architecture though. Now thanks to Anthos, NetApp HCI get in to a unique position with scalability, ecosystem, simplicity, hybrid cloud & functionality for microservices where some other great competitors like Nutanix not reached yet, and that gives NetApp a momentum in the HCI market
  • Performance. Don’t forget about NetApp’s Max Data software which already working with VMware & SolidFire, it will take NetApp only one last step to bring DCPMM like Intel Optane to NetApp HCI. Note NetApp just announced on Insight 2019 a compute node with Intel Cascade Lake CPUs which required for Optane. Max Data is not available on NetApp HCI yet, but we can clearly see that NetApp putting everything together to make it happen. Persistent memory in form of a file system for a Linux host server with tiering for cold blocks to “slow” SSD storage can put NetApp on top of all the competitors in terms of performance

HCI Performance

Speaking about which, take a look on these two performance tests:

  1. IOmark-VM-HC: 5 storage & 18 compute nodes using data stores & VVols
  2. IOmark-VDI-HC: 5 storage nodes & 12 compute nodes with only data stores

Total 1,440 VMs with 3,200 VDI desktops.

Notice how asymmetrical number of storage nodes compared to compute nodes are, and in “Real” HCI architectures with local drives you have to have more equipment, while with NetApp HCI you can choose how much storage and how much compute resources you need and scale them separately. Dedup & compression were enabled in the tests.


This article is for information purposes only, may contain errors and personal opinions. This text neither authorized nor sponsored by NetApp. If you have spotted an error, please let me know.

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