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5 Tips for Implementing a VMware Private Cloud

Robert Esker

The elixir powering today’s innovation increasingly draws from the strengths of cloud and fuels it with rich and plentiful data. But while well established; cloud paradoxically is easy to consume from, alas hard to create.  And of course, cloud isn’t just one thing or one place.  There’s choice amongst the public offerings, several options for establishing private clouds, but still little available that can uniformly connect the two.

Balancing the plurality of public options is hard enough without having to build your own private cloud, but whether you need to derive from unique capabilities of one vs the other or to simply affordably and optimally place you applications and data, having tools and capabilities that can deal with multi-cloud and hybrid relationships among them is essential to success.

To fully exploit the advantage of the best of this model, applications need either evolve toward or be replaced by cloud natives.  But the vast majority of the world’s application & business logic was built of another model.  And that logic isn’t “broken” per se and much of it doesn’t even demand change. So, you’ll need capabilities that can accommodate classic applications yet provide an organic home for cloud native applications.  You’ll need an application marketplace to spin up microservice-based, distributed, & containerized applications in a fully self-service and on-demand manner.  Application, developers, maintainers, and deployers will need common access to well-integrated programmable services to achieve the ambition of continuously iterated and continuously delivered pipelined software at any cloud.

To accomplish these, you need a universal control plane for applications and their corresponding data that can:

  • Deploy applications uniformly across public cloud providers and your private cloud
  • Work with multiple cloud providers, not just one
  • Accommodate classic virtualized applications and provide individual self-service capabilities in relationship to them
  • Enable you to deploy and position both applications and their data across hybrid cloud relationships regardless of cloud location without compromising service level agreements
  • Enable simple and on-demand self-service.
  • Provide analytics across cloud providers and on your premises with one cloud-based control plane

Maybe you’re subject to rigid regulatory compliance requirements, have data sovereignty concerns, and know that partitioning applications between public clouds and on your premises are imperatives for success.  Perhaps you’ve learned through hard earned experience that moving and storing data in public cloud environments can get pricey. And it’s a must that you deliver in an on-demand, self-service mode.

If any of these needs is true for your organization, NetApp can help.

With NetApp® HCI, simple and powerful hybrid cloud infrastructure is a reality. It starts with automated installation atop virtualized infrastructure that enables NetApp Kubernetes Service (NKS), Cloud Volumes, and Cloud Insights. You’ll be able to deploy clusters and applications to any premises that your NetApp HCI installations are at with the same tools that you deploy to public clouds. You can treat your HCI installation as a deployable region vis-à-vis public clouds.

Great to hear, right? Where do you start?

Cloud services on NetApp HCI, that’s where.

Deploying and Configuring NetApp HCI and Cloud Data Services

In discussing cloud data services on NetApp HCI, we'll focus on the following NetApp cloud services:

  • NetApp Kubernetes Service provides a universal control plane for Kubernetes, an application marketplace, containers as a service, and application orchestration on NetApp HCI as well as the most common public clouds.
  • NetApp Cloud Volumes offers a simple, on-demand shared filesystems feature on your premises, backed by NetApp ONTAP® data management software.
  • NetApp Fabric Orchestrator is a centralized storage and data management control plane to discover, manage, control, and govern your storage assets and data estate, anywhere. NetApp integration orchestration simplifies enterprise cloud storage management by providing fabricwide, multicloud visibility, monitoring, advisories, policies, administration, and workflow orchestration for NetApp storage systems on the premises and in the cloud.
  • NetApp Cloud Insights gives you an overview and detailed analytics for your cloud environment, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and NetApp HCI systems.

With deployment automation capabilities on NetApp HCI, it's easy to configure your cluster for cloud services. And even simpler yet to consume them! Here's how:

  1. Enable cloud services and register your NetApp HCI installation to your Cloud Central account.
  2. Create a Kubernetes cluster.
  3. Create cloud volumes with NetApp Fabric Orchestrator.
  4. Add apps to your Kubernetes cluster.

Enabling Cloud Services on NetApp HCI

You can enable cloud services by using a newly introduced management tool, NetApp Hybrid Cloud Control.

Select the services you want, associate the HCI cluster with your organization, specify what region this new installation will represent, select a vCenter data center and cluster, and configure networking. Review your selections and you’re all set.

Please note that NetApp Cloud Services on HCI will initially be made available as technology previews that will be promoted to production when ready.  NetApp seeks feedback and perspective from those making use of preview capabilities to help refine them before indicating readiness for production service levels.

Creating Kubernetes Clusters by Using NetApp Kubernetes Service

After you enable cloud services with NetApp HCI Hybrid Cloud Control, you can create a Kubernetes cluster by using the NetApp Kubernetes Service. Select NetApp HCI as the provider, configure the provider, and then configure the cluster.

The resulting newly-created Kubernetes cluster appears, listed along with any other NKS clusters you may have created at other cloud locations.

Creating Cloud Volumes by Using NetApp Fabric Orchestrator

Next, you create cloud volumes on the HCI installation by using a companion control plane, NetApp Fabric Orchestrator at

On the Create Cloud Volume page:

  1. Choose Private Cloud for the context.
  2. Select the CV on NetApp HCI tab.
  3. Specify the region (this is the HCI installation from the preceding steps)
  4. Enter any desired tags and labels to distinguish the new Cloud Volume from others.
  5. Optionally edit the export policy and protection policy


Deploy Applications to Your Kubernetes Cluster

After you’ve created one or more Kubernetes clusters, you can easily add any number of applications to them by selecting from templated solutions or invoking curated helm charts. You’ll be able to deploy and scale common cloud-native applications as needed without having to assemble them by hand.  And to add your own applications to your existing Kubernetes cluster, click App Management and choose from our gallery of supported solutions, or push your own charts to install your own in a project.

Introspect Real-Time Analytics for Private and Public Clouds with NetApp Cloud Insights

Now that you have deployed your cloud data services on HCI in your private cloud, you can get a preview of how you can use NetApp Cloud Insights to see the health of your systems, both on-premises and in public clouds.

NetApp Cloud Insights monitors compute, network, storage stack, and application status for multivendor, heterogenous services and now provides analytics of your NetApp HCI services.

The next blog in this series will explore how you can quickly ascertain the health of your cloud services.

What Happens Behind the Scenes?

NetApp HCI creates a bootstrap agent that establishes an encrypted communication tunnel to the NetApp Kubernetes Service control plane, builds a temporary bootstrap cluster, and creates a service cluster. The service cluster, connected to NetApp Kubernetes Service, acts as a service orchestrator to deploy services and update itself. The NetApp Kubernetes Service agent maintains the tunnel, creates user clusters, and maintains deployed cloud volumes. After NetApp deploys a service cluster on your system, requested software, along with updates, is pushed to your NetApp HCI system.

Cloud Volumes on HCI are facilitated by automatically downloading and deploying a Highly Available (HA) virtualized storage and protocol server backend powered by ONTAP at the computer virtualization layer.  It consumes capacity from the underpinning scalable storage cluster provided by NetApp’s Element software.  This backend is discrete to Cloud Volumes and is deployed and managed via a combination of the Hybrid Cloud Control mNode and the Service Cluster.

Learn More

Discover how you can spin up applications quickly and have an excellent management experience wherever your applications and data reside.

Implementing your hybrid cloud infrastructure is easier than you think. Join the data-driven journey.

Robert Esker

In Rob’s time at NetApp, his work has spanned across product development, strategy, & technical architecture with particular focus on cloud services and the open ecosystem. He’s long had deep involvement in open-source community software development – starting with Apple’s Darwin effort and thereafter at NetApp having led the company’s broad open infrastructure integration and upstream activities. Rob had been an early advocate for creating the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF – the home of Kubernetes and more) and has the pleasure of serving on the CNCF Governing Board. Previously, while serving in various community leadership roles throughout the arc of OpenStack he'd contributed in capacities ranging from having co-founded the Manila project, to serving four elected terms on the OpenStack Foundation Board of Directors, to frequently speaking at design summits, conferences and user groups globally. Prior to NetApp, Rob had been at Apple from 1998-2006. He served in a number of diverse roles including Technical Attaché to the CEO and the Board of Directors reporting to Steve Jobs. He’s a former U.S. Marine, and currently resides in Austin, Texas with his wife, & two daughters.

View all Posts by Robert Esker

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