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NetApp dumps its HCI hardware in favor of Kubernetes


NetApp, one of many players in the hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) hardware business, plans to end production of its NetApp HCI hardware and focus instead on its Project Astra Kubernetes platform.

HCI is split into two categories, software and hardware. On the software side, it’s roughly an even split in marketshare between Nutanix and VMware. On the hardware side, IDC and Gartner both list HCI leaders as HP Enterprise, Dell Technology, Cisco Systems, and “the rest of the market.” You can guess what category NetApp falls into.

First introduced in 2019, NetApp HCI was the company’s first and only hardware appliance to provide compute functions. NetApp primarily focuses on software solutions.

Eric Han, vice president of product management for public cloud services at NetApp, said the vendor set out to build an open, extensible HCI platform for enterprise customers to run multiple applications with guaranteed performance across private, public, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments.

“We were helping them develop VM workloads, as well as their next-gen applications. As we’ve seen customer requirements and the HCI market shift to a software-defined infrastructure, customers no longer need an integrated HCI appliance because it was always a solution that was meant to help organizations move their applications to the [hybrid multi-cloud],” Han said.

With the ability to move applications using containers and Kubernetes, the key element to hybrid cloud enablement is application data management, which NetApp now offers with NetApp Astra, the focus of NetApp going forward.  

Project Astra, introduced nearly a year ago, is an initiative aimed at bringing enterprise-class storage services to the Kubernetes container platform as a way to manage applications and data as they move between on-premises and multi-cloud environments.

Han said NetApp is helping customers plan for an end-of-availability of the hardware, with software enhancements and support continuing through March 2025. Support for the NetApp HCI platform will continue until March 2027.  

“Customers who have existing deployments can continue to expand their HCI as a solution with full NetApp support. Storage clusters in existing NetApp HCI deployments can continue to be expanded through NetApp SolidFire storage nodes. No storage transition is required,” said Han. 

As for the shift to Kubernetes, Han said that organizations are adopting Kubernetes as a critical technology foundation to enable them to deliver modern, cloud-native applications with speed, flexibility, and agility.

“By simplifying and standardizing the management of containers and services, Kubernetes helps developers build and quickly release portable applications that can run on any infrastructure, from edge and data center to the cloud,” he said.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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