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NetApp To Launch VMware Private Cloud Reference Architecture For HCI

Sources tell CRN that NetApp is planning to unveil the VMware Private Cloud Reference Architecture for HCI during this month's VMworld conference, making its HCI hyper-converged infrastructure offering the base for flexible cloud infrastructures.

NetApp is planning to release reference architectures aimed at running VMware-based private clouds on NetApp's HCI hyper-converged infrastructure offerings, CRN has learned.

The new program, called the VMware Private Cloud Reference Architecture for HCI, was developed by NetApp in partnership with VMware, and is slated to be announced at the VMworld conference later this month.

The new reference architecture will be offered to channel partners looking to get more from hyper-converged infrastructure than just virtualization, a source close to NetApp and VMware told CRN, on condition of anonymity.

[Related: NetApp CEO George Kurian On HCI, Cloud, And Acquisition Strategy]

The VMware Private Cloud Reference Architecture for HCI will show how to deploy NetApp's HCI with VMware's NSX, vRealize, and other software to provide a high-performance platform with full automation and unique functionality for private clouds, the source said.

NetApp's HCI hyper-converged infrastructure offering, which just started shipping this year, differs from many other hyper-converged infrastructure offerings on the market in that it has separate compute and storage nodes which the company said makes it more useful for enterprise-scale applications than its competitors are.

That scalability, combined with NetApp technologies aimed at cloud infrastructure, makes the VMware Private Cloud Reference Architecture for HCI an offering with a great idea, NetApp channel partners told CRN.

Neither NetApp nor VMware spokespeople were able to provide more information by press time.

One NetApp channel partner who has seen information about the new reference architecture told CRN under condition of anonymity that it is a strong statement of where NetApp is going.

"With the cloud, if it's easy to deploy, people will be more apt to deploy it," the solution provider said. "At a high level, customers can deploy HCI, fire up NSX and vRealize, and it makes perfect sense."

The VMware Private Cloud Reference Architecture for HCI fits right in with NetApp's overall cloud strategy, particularly its Data Fabric strategy of managing and migration data across on-premises, private cloud, and public cloud infrastructures, the solution provider said.

While NetApp has worked with VMware to deploy VMware private clouds in a co-location environment, the VMware Private Cloud Reference Architecture for HCI brings the VMware private cloud on-premises, the solution provider said.

"So if you deploy a VMware private cloud on-premises, it's the other end of a multi-cloud infrastructure," the solution provider said. "With Data Fabric, you can deploy workloads from on-premises across to the cloud."

The new reference architecture goes well beyond VMware's current alliance with Amazon to run VMware private cloud infrastructures in AWS, the solution provider said. NetApp HCI can use NetApp Cloud Volumes, NFS, and CIFs to extend to AWS as well as Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. "This begins to open more use cases for both NetApp and VMware," the solution provider said.

The VMware Private Cloud Reference Architecture for HCI is an important stake in the ground for both VMware and NetApp, the solution provider said. "VMware wants to sell more licenses," the solution provider said. "NetApp wants to expand to the cloud. And while [VMware parent] Dell EMC might want to sell more of its own hyper-converged technology, VMware wants to work with other vendors to expand its sales."

For NetApp, which has made hyper-converged infrastructure one of its key technology pillars, it is important to expand the use cases for its HCI as quickly as possible while differentiating it from the hyper-converged offerings from its competitors, another NetApp solution provider told CRN on condition of anonymity.

NetApp HCI is based on NetApp's SolidFire storage platform which allows easy definition of quality of service for multi-tenant environments, making it ideal as a cloud platform in conjunction with NetApp's other cloud orchestration tools, the solution provider said. And for VMware, a better NetApp relationship means increased sales of enterprise licensing agreements.

"Both companies see an advantage in promoting an orchestrated offering for moving virtual machines between on-premises and the cloud," the solution provider said. "It will drive license sales for VMware and use cases for NetApp's HCI. VMware is a popular platform for our NetApp customers."

Enterprises are really interested in the ability to easily move virtual machines between on-premises and cloud infrastructures, the solution provider said. As an example, the solution provider said a customer might have an application like payroll where the data needs to be on a high-performance on-premises infrastructure for five days but can sit on a lower-performance public cloud the rest of the time.

"NetApp can give customers the opportunity to go on-premises where needed and move to Amazon when not, while VMware gets the license sales," the solution provider said.

Another NetApp and VMware channel partner told CRN under condition of anonymity that the new reference architecture makes perfect sense.

"NetApp is going after larger opportunities with HCI, and most larger companies also leverage VMware vRealize," the solution provider said. "Almost every large enterprise customer is investing in VMware. And NetApp has differentiated itself in hyper-converged infrastructure with a solution that scales for larger enterprises."

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