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NetApp BlueXP and the journey to an 'evolved cloud'

With BlueXP and Astra, NetApp has a plan for data and application management across cloud locations. The vendor seeks to help customers reach what it calls an 'evolved cloud.'

In the race to deliver multi-cloud simplicity, NetApp has launched BlueXP, a unified control plane centered on data storage and services designed for hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

NetApp BlueXP offers multiple capabilities for multi-cloud data storage environments, including the following:

  • unified storage management across NetApp's broad portfolio of on-premises offerings, as well as NetApp technology that resides within major public cloud providers such as Amazon FSx for NetApp OnTap, Azure NetApp Files and Google Cloud Volumes;
  • integrated intelligence for health monitoring based on NetApp's ActiveIQ technology and telemetry data;
  • a ransomware dashboard, along with governance monitoring, to support cyber-resilience and ensure compliance across multi-cloud environments;
  • data mobility capabilities designed to simplify data movement, tiering and caching across multiple platforms; and
  • the ability to centralize and simplify management of NetApp's flexible consumption models across its multiple offerings.

The announcement was coupled with a strategic vision for BlueXP to become a conduit for NetApp customers to reach an "evolved cloud" -- a hybrid and multi-cloud environment that simplifies and automates operations. 

From distributed cloud to 'evolved cloud'

At Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), we have been discussing the concept of the distributed cloud for a while now, using it as a way to highlight how complex contemporary IT and application environments have become. Environments today span multiple disparate, distributed locations including data centers, public clouds, colocation facilities and edge locations. As environments scale, they become more distributed and complex, and the task of managing, maintaining and optimizing these environments is being spread across more teams that use different tools, processes and procedures.

The complexity of distributed IT and application environments cripples operations. According to ESG research, 64% agree that the complexity of their IT infrastructure slows IT operations and digital initiatives. Addressing the challenges of the distributed cloud and achieving an evolved state should be the priority of every IT executive. Businesses simply need more from public and private cloud services -- or as NetApp would say, the world needs an evolved cloud. 

The public cloud has changed the way we all operate, but like all great innovation, the world eventually adopts and embraces it, and it becomes table stakes. Just using public cloud services isn't going to provide a competitive edge anymore -- because everyone else is doing so as well.

Is NetApp the right partner to make it happen? Time will tell, but I won't bet against it. NetApp has a history of being right with its visionary direction. In 2014, NetApp was discussing the need to extend a data fabric across clouds, something nearly every organization desperately needs today.

There is an early mover advantage here. While not the first, NetApp also is not late to the space. And while the world needs a unified control plane for multi-cloud, when it comes to multi-cloud environments data placement and movement are some of the most difficult problems to solve. If NetApp only helps address that one issue, they likely have a winner.

The potential for BlueXP

Some may see this as a callback to the days of information lifecycle management (ILM). While there are some similarities, the world is different now. When ILM was in vogue, data was spread across just one or a few locations. Now it is everywhere, often spanning the globe. Data movement is a far larger, far more complex and far more pervasive problem than it has ever been.

ESG research also shows that 49% of organizations move data between multiple clouds all the time or regularly. And 65% of organizations agree that their organization faces challenges with application and data portability across locations.

This is why NetApp BlueXP, especially with its ability to simplify data movement, has the potential to be a real game changer. 

On a related note, at KubeCon a few weeks ago, I was able to get a demo of Astra by NetApp, which simplifies persistent data management and movement environments for Kubernetes. It was impressive to observe how simple it was to move containers and the data across cloud locations. This is more innovation that simplifies the challenges of app and data portability. I expect the paths of Astra and BlueXP to become increasingly intertwined for NetApp in the years ahead.

The bottom line is that managing and maintaining data and apps across locations is and will be one of the biggest challenges for IT for the foreseeable future. It must be addressed, and NetApp has a plan.

ESG is a division of TechTarget.

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