This the first in a series of blogs on how NetApp IT is making meaningful changes to move from traditional IT infrastructure toward next generation data centers. This series will cover not only the technology involved, but the people and process components to ensure IT’s success. 

Part 1: Our future uncentered (next generation) data center at NetApp

When the NetApp IT team was challenged by CIO Bill Miller to build a future, next generation vision of our data centers using NetApp technologies, the team found no clear, practical definition existed of Next Generation Data Center (NGDC). Yet, they were certain of one thing: no longer is there a center of data. Data is no longer centralized in a brick and mortar data center. It has become uncentered and resides with SaaS providers, hyperscalers, private clouds, and co-location facilities.


As part of internal debates and discussions, the team decided a proper NGDC definition must start with an evaluation of NetApp’s enterprise application portfolio to determine best target end-state infrastructure. Applying Gartner’s TIME (tolerate-invest-migrate-eliminate) model to assess our enterprise application portfolio, it was determined:

  • 27% of the applications had a tolerate status, i.e. no incremental investment and keep running until no longer needed;
  • 36% of the applications are “invest-strategic” and require investment to deploy new capabilities and/or enhance current functionality;
  • 32% of the applications have functionality that must migrate to a different application or platform; and
  • 5% of the applications will be eliminated to free up resources and reduce costs.

It was this evaluation that led the team to develop a definition of NGDC, especially when looking at the applications that fell into the “invest-strategic” and “migrate” categories.


Over the next three to five years, NetApp IT’s enterprise architecture team sees 70% of the “invest-strategic” and “migrate” apps migrating to software-as-a-service (SaaS). Considering that NetApp IT is a relatively typical enterprise IT shop, we want to take advantage of the common business processes which are automated and packaged by SaaS providers, forming 70% of our future enterprise application portfolio.


The remaining 30% of applications are unique to NetApp, providing a competitive advantage which cannot be rented from a SaaS provider.  These applications will need a software controlled and orchestrated development platform that allows developers to build and run cloud-aware applications using advanced methodologies like DevOps and CI/CD delivery models. This is NGDC.  These apps will run in our NGDC which consists of cloud service providers, including AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and even our private cloud using NetApp technologies like SolidFire and Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI).


The next generation data center is one part of our complete hybrid cloud portfolio, which also includes SaaS providers and a dramatically downsized traditional data center to house the aforementioned “tolerate” applications. The NetApp Data Fabric provides a competitive advantage by tying these different ecosystems together and providing the right mechanisms to share data between the three environments.


At this point, the proper hybrid cloud is complete, allowing IT to bring the traditional enterprise IT business process to bear, but in a much more flexible, agile and efficient way. We can then do things more rapidly, more automated, and more flexible because we have a better technology ecosystem on which to run all applications.


The NetApp-on-NetApp blog series features advice from subject matter experts from NetApp IT who share their real-world experiences using NetApp’s industry-leading data management solutions to support business goals. Want to learn more about the program? Visit

Michael Morris

As the Senior Director for Platform, Cloud and Infrastructure, Mike leads NetApp IT’s hybrid cloud and DevOps platform strategy―orchestrated and managed by an automation ecosystem―to create a holistic environment for cloud-aware enterprise applications. Mike leads the automation, infrastructure, cloud, and service management teams for NetApp which culminate to create NetApp IT’s DevOps platform, “CloudOne”. He also spearheads the internal feedback program between IT and product development and marketing, discussing how IT uses NetApp products and services.

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