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The NetApp Astra architectural evolution

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Sayan Saha
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With the unveiling of Project Astra in April 2020, NetApp® shared its direction for how organizations like yours can manage at enterprise scale data services, storage, and applications controlled by Kubernetes. Within a year, NetApp Astra™ Control moved into general availability as the industry’s first managed service to provide data protection and disaster recovery for Kubernetes and containerized workloads in Google Cloud, AWS, and Azure. Then, in response to customer demand, we expanded the management choice with a self-managed option if you want to protect containerized applications on premises. 

More enhancements coming soon

As NetApp continues to evolve Astra Control, we’re excited to share details on upcoming Astra Control architectural releases that are planned for the first half of 2024. These enhancements take a Kubernetes-native approach, improving your system’s extensibility, streamlining management across your clusters, and delivering advanced data services: 

  • Extensibility. Being Kubernetes-native means more than automation; it’s about extensibility. By seamlessly integrating with Kubernetes APIs and resources, data protection can become an inherent part of the application lifecycle through your organization’s existing policy management, continuous integration, and continuous deployment (CI/CD), and/or GitOps tools.
  • Centralized management. A single Astra Control instance streamlines configuration and workflow orchestration across multiple Kubernetes clusters regardless of where you deploy them. By bridging application data management between clouds and on-premises environments, Astra gives you a consistent set of data protection policies irrespective of your underlying infrastructure. 
  • Advanced data services. The Astra foundation is built on application management. Astra brings application metadata and advanced data management together so that you can protect and quickly move entire applications through simple policies and operations.

Four key components

Astra consists of four key components: 

  • Astra Control centralizes management of configuration and workflows for all your managed clusters. 
  • Astra Connector manages and runs your Astra Control operations locally on each managed cluster. 
  • Astra Custom Resources define Astra Control primitives as Kubernetes-native custom resources. 
  • Astra Control Provisioner gives you advanced storage provisioning and management. 
Astra Diagram

Astra Control is the centralized management service for all your clusters under management, providing orchestrated workloads for application protection and mobility. The Astra Control service works with an Astra Connector to provide a secure connection between Astra Control and each of your clusters that are under management in the cloud and on premises. The connector locally executes operations regardless of connection status and, in parallel, strengthens security by using a least-privilege access approach. The use of custom resources on each cluster provides a Kubernetes-native approach to running your operations locally and makes it easy to integrate Astra into other Kubernetes-friendly tools and automation. Finally, the Astra Control Provisioner delivers core Container Storage Interface (CSI) provisioning functionality and advanced storage management capabilities for added security and disaster recovery configuration.  

Enhancements based on customer feedback

The Astra Control architecture has been evolving directly from customer feedback, and customers have shared their excitement about the following attributes of the new architecture: 

  • Native GitOps integration with tools like Argo CD and Flux. protection policies, and execution hooks can be stored in Git alongside the application definition, strengthening Git as the single source of truth. 
  • Improved scalability through local resource optimization. Application data management and disaster recovery workflows occur directly on the managed cluster, enabling distributed operations that natively scale with your Kubernetes infrastructure, no matter how large or dynamic it is. 
  • Native policy management integrations with tools like Kyverno. Through the use of policy enforcement, resources must be created with specific labels and then must automatically generate Astra Control protection policies based on the label value, maintaining compliance and governance. 
  • Simplified app migration for hybrid cloud environments. The Astra Connector components running directly on the managed cluster simplify firewall rules and enable workload migration between clusters through only a shared object storage bucket. 
  • Declarative configurations with Kubernetes-native tooling. You can define your data management policies by simply declaring the desired state through familiar tools like kubectl or the Kubernetes API and then letting the system handle the rest. This feature improves ease of use and reduces the potential for human error. 

Start protecting your applications today

Our team is committed to helping customers like you modernize and containerize their applications. We’re continuing to iterate and to extend Astra functionality as this space evolves. We would love to learn more about your Kubernetes journey and your data requirements in a hybrid cloud world. You can get started with Astra for free by following the quick registration process and start protecting your applications today. 

Sayan Saha

Sayan Saha is a product executive with open-source software product management experience spanning Linux-based platform software, containers, Kubernetes, high-availability/clustering software, virtualization, hyper-converged systems, and software-defined storage. At NetApp, he runs product management for Astra—a fully managed (SaaS) multihybrid cloud data management platform for Kubernetes applications. Before NetApp, he was a product management leader at AWS and Red Hat, where he led cloud file storage, distributed storage, and Kubernetes storage products.

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