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Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as a Stepping Stone to Hybrid Multicloud

Matt Norton

iaas-stepping-stone-hybrid-cloudIn 2013, NetApp IT created its first Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) portal that allowed a small group of superusers to request virtual machines and storage from a service catalog. Within minutes, a fully running infrastructure landscape for compute and storage would be provided, irrespective of the cloud destination. It was our first foray into IaaS, built on automation and a cloud decision framework. 

Referred to as nCloud, our first IaaS offering predetermined the cloud placement of the workload ― either public or private ― according to answers to an online service catalog request. Several factors determined cloud placement behind the scenes such as P1 eligibility, SOX compliance, and customer accessibility, as well as how critical the application was. It all sounded great at the time, but it was complex and required extra governance by the catalog team to maintain and automate. 

The first-generation IaaS offering was also limited to superusers, a small group of technically sophisticated folks who represented broader user communities. They were knowledgeable about infrastructure and the costs of public cloud versus private cloud selections. Although these superusers appreciated the speed of spinning up compute and storage, they were not allowed much flexibility in terms of post-provision, “day two” operations such as mounting and unmounting volumes, adding volumes, and resizing. For these kinds of operations, they typically had to engage IT Operations directly. 

Second-Generation IaaS

We began rebuilding our IaaS offering by first recognizing that several fundamental features had to be maintained. For example, we needed to continue to provide multicloud options, based on technology standards listed in our service catalog and our underlying cloud decision framework. All of it had to be integrated and presented to the end user through a comprehensive self-service portal. We needed to continue using our standard naming conventions for our storage and servers (physical and virtual), because it allows automatic trace ownership via the configuration management database (CMDB), another fundamental component. 

Given that infrastructure is tied to application ownership in our CMDB, we were able to expand the IaaS user community beyond superusers to include primary application support personnel. These users are now able to register their applications directly into the CMDB, provision and deprovision internal or external-facing virtual machines, and perform post-provision operations on virtual machines — for example, start, stop, reboot, resize, create, and delete images. On the storage front, volumes can be added, removed, resized, mounted, and unmounted. Similarly, load balancers can be provisioned, deprovisioned, or modified. The new IaaS portal is full service with table-driven options and cost estimates. And it is all tied into the CMDB for visibility and authorization. New features are being added regularly! Learn more about our IaaS portal in this video:

Today IaaS is just one service available in our CloudOne environment. Our developers and users can take advantage of the DevOps service, container as a service (CaaS), and database as a service (DBaaS). Our public PaaS (platform as a service) marketplace is under development and will be released in a few months. Check out this infographic to learn more about the self-service capabilities of our CloudOne portals inside NetApp.

NetApp IT’s CloudOne Self-Service Portal: A One-Stop Shop for All IT Services from NetApp The NetApp on NetApp blogs feature advice from NetApp IT subject matter experts who share their real experiences in using industry-leading NetApp® data management solutions to support business goals. To learn more, visit

Matt Norton

Matt Norton is a senior system administrator for Cloud and Compute Services at NetApp. Matt designs, implements, and supports infrastructure services for the NetApp global enterprise and creates user interfaces for the internal CloudOne platform that includes DevOps, IaaS, PaaS, DBaaS, and CaaS.

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