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NetApp Kubernetes Service launched to orchestrate containers

NetApp launched its Data Fabric architecture to adapt its storage to manage applications built for the cloud. Container orchestration had largely been a missing aspect in Data Fabric, but the vendor has taken a step to try and plug the gap.

NetApp has acquired Seattle-based StackPointCloud for an undisclosed sum. StackPointCloud has developed a Kubernetes-based control plane,, to federate trusted clusters and sync persistent storage containers among public cloud providers.

The first fruit of the merger is the NetApp Kubernetes Service, which the vendor claims will allow customers to launch a Kubernetes cluster in three clicks and scale it to hundreds of users. NetApp said it will levy a surcharge of 20% of the overall compute cost for the cluster to cover deployment, maintenance and upgrades. That equates to about $200 on $1,000 of overall compute.

The NetApp Kubernetes Service engine will allow customers to deploy containers at scale from a single user interface with underlying NetApp storage, said Anthony Lye, a NetApp senior vice president of cloud data services.

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation took over management of Kubernetes development earlier this year from Google. Docker Inc. popularized container deployments with its Docker Swarm orchestration management. Other open-source container tools include Apache Mesos and Red Hat OpenShift.

NetApp customers will still be able to use their preferred deployment framework, but Lye said Kubernetes is “the clear winner” among container operating systems.

He said Stackpoint completes the work NetApp started with its open source dynamic container-provisioning project, codenamed Trident. NetApp Kubernetes Service is available immediately.

Lye said his internal development teams were using the Stackpoint engine to deploy NetApp storage infrastructure at global cloud data centers run by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Compute Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure. In addition to the big three, StackPointCloud supports Digital Ocean and Packet clouds.

“My engineers were telling me this was the best thing they’d ever seen, plus the market was telling us that storage and containers need to go together and (enterprises) are using multiple clouds. Those three reasons led us to make the acquisition,” Lye said.

The DevOps trend has been fueled by container virtualization for writing cloud-native applications with specialized microservices. Linux-based containers also are gaining attention for the ability to “lift and shift” traditional legacy applications to hybrid cloud environments. Unlike a virtual machine, a container does not require a hosted copy of a full operating system.

Designed on Kubernetes Storage Classes, NetApp Trident was developed to simplify persistent-volume provisioning for OnTap-based storage, SolidFire and E Series arrays. Lye said the NetApp Kubernetes Service allows developers to run canary environments to test new applications with mixed nodes of graphics processing units and regular CPUs.

StackPointCloud launched in 2014 with bootstrapped funding. The transaction brings CEO Matt Baldwin to NetApp, along with an undisclosed number of StackPointCloud employees.

Stackpoint integration will start with NetApp HCI hyper-converged infrastructure and FlexPod converged systems. The plan is to extend NetApp Kubernetes Service across all of NetApp’s storage, Lye said. “Our strategy is to continue to build tighter connections between our cloud protocols and containers and extend the control plane from the public clouds down to support NetApp HCI or NetApp’s private clouds.”

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