The introduction of PaaS to the NetApp portfolio offers exciting possibilities for NetApp IT storage. Integrating this feature set into our enterprise IT strategy is one of our top priorities. A cloud-based, automated, self-service infrastructure will enable IT to rapidly deliver platforms to help shorten development cycles and adapt to changing environments.
Speed is the currency of application development today. IT is leveraging technology to shorten development cycles so the business can respond as quickly as possible to the changing business environment. Enter platform as a service (PaaS).
Our objective was to develop push-button deployment of an entire application development environment, such as GitLab or Jenkins, that includes the application code, database, components, network interfaces, and a storage environment. A developer could visit a self-service portal and select a platform from a menu. By expanding the number of testing environments, we can help shorten the development lifecycle. In turn, the business applications team could roll out new features faster.
The PaaS environment was architected using OpenShift as the orchestrator of the technology stack. OpenShift automatically provisions the requested app stack with everything needed in containers. This architecture enables the data to persist when the container stops.
To translate the commands from OpenShift to the storage cluster, NetApp developed Trident, an open-source, Kubernetes storage orchestrator available on GitHub. Trident can simultaneously talk to and provision ONTAP® or SolidFire storage based on the application requirements. In our case, Trident would leverage ONTAP for NAS and SolidFire for block storage. This entire process would be transparent to the user.
In this use case, Trident is the owner and administrator of storage. OpenShift creates a ticket for a storage volume, prompting Trident to talk to the ONTAP or SolidFire cluster, then automatically configure, export, and mount the requested volume. In a traditional environment, this manual process would take days or weeks working with various teams to setup network configuration, create the necessary virtual machines, provision the storage resources, and install and configure the application stack. With human interaction engineered out of the process, it takes seconds.
Application stacks with multiple components, big data stacks, and static content that needs to be shared on a common file system, like GitLab, can use NAS storage. Block is suitable for application stacks like MongoDB, Hadoop, and Elasticsearch, where the components can share data among themselves as part of an application layer cluster and don’t require a shared file system.
Storage in PaaS delivery
On a strategic level, the PaaS architecture is a shift in the way NetApp IT provisions storage that goes hand in hand with the software-driven, cloud-aware apps of the future. It fits in our efforts to modernize the data center by simplifying the infrastructure layer and managing it as part of an advanced application feature set or architecture.
This architecture takes advantage of the features of the underlying array to provide enterprise-grade storage. This includes leveraging the cloud and orchestration tools to integrate the storage into the service delivery process. By automating platform deployment, NetApp’s developers should benefit from faster development iterations—from days to hours to minutes.
The PaaS deployment is changing roles within IT. As storage management is pushed higher into the app stack, IT business owners and engineers will need to become fluent in managing the entire app stack, including storage, business continuity, and disaster recovery. The role of the storage team is also shifting from managing hardware to software. This trend is only the beginning of the departure from the traditional ways of doing things in IT.
Both ONTAP and SolidFire will play a significant role in the modern data center as we expand our service delivery options using the cloud. They are just a first step in our evolution to a next-generation, cloud-based application architecture.
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