Today is our annual NetApp Analyst Day in Boulder, and I’m looking forward to spending time with arguably the most knowledgeable and well-connected group of people in our industry. Understandable, then, that we chose today to launch NetApp HCI, the next generation of hyper converged infrastructure, and the very first HCI platform designed for enterprise-scale applications.


When it comes to infrastructure, IT buyers and consumers have more options than ever before. Organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to consume IT resources in the way that makes most sense for them at any given time — and for any given project. In many cases, purpose-built systems (individual and bespoke storage systems, network, servers) remain the best approach. However, most people agree that other consumption options — “as a service,” converged infrastructure (CI), and software-defined (SDS) platforms — will take a rapidly increasing share of the of the IT infrastructure market over the next few years.


As I wrote about earlier in the year, the CI market has grown rapidly, as organizations continue to value increased operational simplicity and faster time to market. Hyper converged infrastructure (HCI) platforms are a natural evolution, as organizations look to build their next-generation data center strategy. The analyst community tends to agree:


  • “Hyper converged solutions will account for 60% of Server/Storage/Network deployments by 2020.” IDC, Worldwide Datacenter 2017 predications, Nov 2016
  • “By 2019, 30% of global storage array capacity installed in enterprise data centers will be deployed with SDS or HCI architectures, up from less than 5% today.” Gartner, Top Five Use Cases and Benefits of SDS, April 2016
  • “23% of respondents to our survey identified HCI as their top storage technology project in 2017.” 451, Voice of Enterprise Storage, Spring 2016

Perhaps more telling is that by 2020, 70% of storage management functions will be automated and integrated into the infrastructure platform.

The first-generation of HCI

The first-generation of HCI solutions have proved successful, for smaller-scale projects. However, customers have found architectural limitations around performance, automation, mixed workloads, scaling, and configuration flexibility have blocked their path to a next-generation data center strategy where agility, scale, automation, and predictability are absolute requirements.


If you value the promise of HCI but know the first-generation solutions are limited, despite the marketing hype, please allow me a few more minutes of your valuable time to introduce the centre-piece of our announcements today: NetApp HCI.


Introducing NetApp HCI

NetApp HCI is the first enterprise-scale hyper converged infrastructure solution. It delivers cloud-like infrastructure (consumption of compute, storage, and networking resources) in an agile, scalable, easy-to-manage four-node building block. It is designed around the foundation of SolidFire all-flash storage to deliver guaranteed application performance with mature integrated replication, efficiency, data protection, and high availability services. You can confidently deploy NetApp HCI for the edge to the core of your datacenter. In addition, simple centralized management through a VMware vCenter Plug-in gives full control of your entire infrastructure through an intuitive user interface. Integration with NetApp ONTAP Select opens a new range of deployment possibilities for both existing NetApp customers and anyone looking to modernize their data center.

NetApp HCI solves the limitations in the current generation of HCI offerings in four key ways:



1) Guaranteed Performance

One of the biggest challenges for anyone managing infrastructure is delivering predictable performance, especially in the face of proliferating applications and workloads. Dedicated platforms and massive over-provisioning are not an economic option anymore. However, any time you have multiple applications sharing the same infrastructure, the potential exists for one application to interfere with the performance of another. NetApp HCI provides the solution with unique Quality of Service (QoS) limits, allowing the granular control of every application, eliminating noisy neighbors, and satisfying all performance SLAs. You can deploy all your applications on a shared platform, predictably and with confidence. Expect to eliminate more than 90% of traditional performance-related problems.


2) Flexibility and Scale

Unlike previous generations of HCI with fixed resource ratios, limiting you to 4-8 node configurations, NetApp HCI scales compute and storage resources independently. Independent scaling avoids costly and inefficient over-provisioning, eliminates the 10 to 30% “HCI tax” from controller VM overhead, and simplifies capacity and performance planning. You might also find licensing costs are no longer your barrier to adopting HCI. NetApp HCI is available in mix-and-match small, medium, and large storage and compute configurations. The architectural design choices we have made mean you can now confidently scale on your terms, making HCI viable for core data center applications and platforms, for the very first time.


3) Automated Infrastructure

The holy grail of IT is to automate all routine tasks, eliminating the risk of user error while freeing up resources to focus on less boring, higher-value projects. NetApp HCI allows IT departments to become more agile and responsive by simplifying deployment and ongoing management. The new NetApp Deployment Engine (NDE) eliminates most manual steps it takes to deploy infrastructure while the VMware vCenter Plug-in makes ongoing management simple and intuitive. Finally, a robust suite of APIs enables integration into higher-level management, orchestration, backup, and disaster-recovery tools. Expect to be up and running in less than 30 mins.



4) The NetApp Data Fabric

If you choose one of the first generation of HCI platforms, you will likely be introducing a new silo of resources into your infrastructure. This is not an efficient longer-term approach. They also have little in common with other infrastructure-consumption choices you may have made already or would like to make in the future. In contrast, NetApp HCI integrates into the NetApp Data Fabric for enhanced data portability, visibility, and protection. The NetApp Data Fabric removes lock-in and provides you a new level of choice. It allows the full potential of your data to be unleashed across your environment — whether on-premises or in your public or hybrid cloud.


In summary, with today’s announcement, NetApp is delivering on all original promises of HCI … and more.


Now you can choose an HCI platform to deliver all your virtualized applications, with guaranteed performance. You can scale on your terms, transform your IT operations through automation, and unleash the power of your data with the NetApp Data Fabric.

John Rollason

John Rollason is Senior Director, Product & Solutions Marketing, Next Generation Data Center at NetApp. In this role, John is responsible for NetApp’s Next Generation Data Center marketing strategy. He works closely, not only with customers, partners, analysts and media, but also with leadership, sales, technical and product teams worldwide.

Prior to this role John was Marketing Director for SolidFire, acquired by NetApp in 2016, and responsible for global marketing strategy and delivery for the NetApp SolidFire Business Unit. John joined SolidFire in 2014.

Before joining SolidFire, John spent over nine years at NetApp, mainly in the role of Director, Product, Solutions & Alliances Marketing EMEA. Prior to NetApp, John worked for eight years at Nortel in a variety of positions in System Engineering, Business Development and Product Marketing.

John has spoken regularly at industry events for many years and attended The University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne gaining an M. Eng (Hons) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He is a Member of the Institution of Engineering & Technology.

Add comment