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How NetApp IT used Spot to open the public cloud

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Michael Morris
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At NetApp IT, we’re constantly looking for new ways to use all available resources. The public cloud has been a key subject of discussion here, as we investigate how to best accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives.

Running on the public cloud comes with plenty of benefits—development and deployment are easier, and scaling is relatively simple. However, it comes with a cost. Public cloud expenses outpace a traditional data center, making it less of an option for enterprise organizations.

We had the same issues, until we deployed the Spot by NetApp® portfolio of services.

There are easy ways to decrease public cloud costs, but at significant cost to performance. Spot enables organizations to find these cost reductions, while avoiding the risks that come with them.

That’s why NetApp acquired the company, formerly Spot.io, and why NetApp IT was eager to use their solutions. We saw up close the impact that Spot had on our own IT operations. After moving five applications to Spot, we saw savings of 49% to 75% compared with AWS on-demand compute services.

It was the proof point that we needed to include Spot in our portfolio and to enable customers to have the same experience.

The untapped market of spot instances

Spot takes advantage of spot instances, unused capacity in public cloud infrastructure. Providers like AWS and Azure reserve a large capacity to meet on-demand needs. However, when there’s too much capacity, the excess that isn’t used is wasted.

That extra capacity is available for use at a discounted rate—as much as 80%. That’s good. That reduced rate also means that you could lose your instance, with just a 2-minute warning. That’s bad. You have access to your instance for as long as it’s available. If an on-demand customer needs it, you’re out of luck and your instance is terminated, with only 2 minutes’ notice.

So, for organizations that require 24/7 reliability, spot instances simply aren’t a viable option.

Spot by NetApp removes that risk. The solution creates a snapshot of your application, and when a termination comes, Spot finds another spot instance that closely matches what you were previously using. You are reprovisioned onto the new instance automatically, requiring no overhead.

Spot works in the background with little impact on end users. Disruptions are reduced, work continues unabated, and costs associated with traditional data centers are displaced.


Spot Instances without Spot by NetApp Spot Instances with Spot by NetApp
High unreliability         Potentially significant cost savings
Quick terminations     Reduced Impact on the end user
Aren't a realistic option for always-on applications Can be used indefinitely 

Spot works in the background with little impact on end users. Disruptions are reduced, work continues unabated, and costs associated with traditional data centers are displaced.

How Spot helped NetApp IT save 60% on public cloud costs

We did our due diligence on Spot by deploying it in our own operations. In our two test cases, the savings were significant. The first was our Common Test Lab, which provides testing environments for product development and quality assurance. The second was our corporate business applications, and Spot integrated easily with little impact on the existing infrastructure. 

The savings were immediate, and the operational impact was minimal. We ran 11 compute instances, covering almost 1,500 hours, and we saved 60% for all workflows. Beyond the initial integration, it required no staff time or maintenance. The savings were significant and came right away. 

It was all we needed to see to make Spot part of the NetApp IT portfolio.

Making the public cloud an enterprise option

Many organizations are shut out from using the public cloud because of the cost, and they can’t use spot instances because of the uncertainty. Applications that aren’t reliable have little value. That level of unreliability is changing, however.

When we were performing this proof of concept, we had no idea that Spot would soon become part of our company. Even if we hadn’t purchased the company, we still would use the product. The cost savings are just too great.

Spot is and will continue to be central to NetApp’s internal strategy. We’re looking to use a combination of hybrid cloud, automation, and Spot to eliminate a data center. That’s savings on top of savings and a more attractive bottom line.

Discover how Spot by NetApp can open the public cloud to your organization and reduce your costs. Schedule a demonstration with a solution architect today.

Michael Morris

As the Senior Director for Platform, Cloud and Infrastructure, Mike leads NetApp IT’s hybrid cloud and DevOps platform strategy―orchestrated and managed by an automation ecosystem―to create a holistic environment for cloud-aware enterprise applications. Mike leads the automation, infrastructure, cloud, and service management teams for NetApp which culminate to create NetApp IT’s DevOps platform, “CloudOne”. He also spearheads the internal feedback program between IT and product development and marketing, discussing how IT uses NetApp products and services.

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