Enterprises are taking advantage of containers at a rate few would have predicted even a couple of years ago. The benefits of containerizing applications and managing them via Kubernetes are clear: They improve efficiency, security and scalability.
While it's clear that container technology has many benefits, it also creates new problems, especially around data management and portability. In other words, there is a gap between basic storage management enabled by the Container Storage Interface (CSI) and enterprise data manageability.
That's exactly the problem NetApp said it's working to solve with its new Project Astra initiative. Eric Han, vice president of product management for NetApp's Cloud Data Services business unit, envisions Project Astra as a cloud service that will allow organizations to work with any Kubernetes distribution they prefer, on any cloud.
Users will connect their Kubernetes cluster to the Project Astra control tower, Han continued. Astra will then detect the application, and users can then choose which applications to manage.
The Project Astra announcement is simply a declaration that NetApp intends to develop technology to discover applications on-premises and in the cloud, and integrate and unify applications and data management.
It's a problem worth solving, and it's one that few companies are talking about because there is no solution today, said Steve McDowell, senior analyst covering storage and data center technologies at Moor Insights & Strategy.
Success will depend on several factors, McDowell said, including partnering with the open-source community.
"The solution to this needs to emerge from the Kubernetes communities," he said. "That's how you integrate open source into enterprise products; you need the open-source technology developers to stand behind it and agree that it's an approach they will support."
NetApp seems committed to the concept. Han said the company already is working with customers that have built their systems on upstream-based Kubernetes, the Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). "From there, customers can run and launch Astra to do application data management," he said. "We anticipate OpenShift as a next phase, but will base [that] on customer interest." Project Astra will be open to a larger group of customers by summer.
"We will show how Astra can use portability to bring workloads to first-party public cloud services, and you’ll have to stay tuned after that," he said.