NetApp Bought Iceland's Greenqloud To Fill Data Fabric Need For Cloud Automation, Orchestration

Storage vendor NetApp topped off a strong first fiscal quarter with the acquisition of Greenqloud, a Reykjavik, Iceland-based developer of technology for enterprise-scale cloud management.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based NetApp reported 2 percent overall revenue growth, with its all-flash array business growing 95 percent year-over-year. The company said its upcoming entry into the hyper-converged infrastructure market is on-track for release this year.

NetApp CEO George Kurian, during his prepared remarks for Wednesday's first quarter fiscal year 2018 analyst call, unveiled the acquisition of Greenqloud.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: NetApp CEO Kurian On Turning Corner On Growth, Competing With Dell EMC And Fending Off Pure Storage]

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"At the start of Q2, we acquired Greenqloud, a private start-up company that created a cloud services orchestration and management platform for hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments," Kurian. "Greenqloud augments our team and accelerates our leadership in hybrid cloud data services by providing NetApp with a scalable architecture, unique technology, and expertise that enhances our ability to integrate and deliver cloud data services."

No dollar value was provided for the acquisition.

Kurian, in an emailed response to a request for more information from CRN, said Greenqloud’s cloud services and application orchestration platform for hybrid and multi-cloud environments accelerate the company's leadership in hybrid cloud data services.

"[It is] providing NetApp with a scalable architecture, unique technology, and expertise that enhances our ability to integrate and deliver cloud data services," Kurian said.

Kurian, in an email to CRN, stated that Greenqloud technology is complementary to other NetApp projects and that integration plans with NetApp technology will be detailed in the future.

"Acquiring Greenqloud provides NetApp with unique technology, scalable architecture and expertise will accelerate NetApp's leadership in providing hybrid cloud data services. Greenqloud has extensive experience building and running large scale cloud services that will augment our team and accelerate our leadership in hybrid cloud data services," he said.

Greenqloud is the developer of Qstack, which the company calls a unified infrastructure management interface that lets enterprises "securely and efficiently manage their enter data center portfolio – including multiple public and private clouds located in different geo-zones – all directly from the same self-service portal."

Qstack includes a built-in Kubernetes container and a cluster engine to support the development of container and application orchestration. Greenqloud said Qstack could provision thousands of physical servers in geographically-distributed data centers, and manages them from a self-service portal or via APIs. It allows the building of hybrid clouds by expanding resources into Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or other EC2-compliant services.

The Greenqloud technology is very complementary to NetApp's Data Fabric vision, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and NetApp channel partner.

With Data Fabric, NetApp is developing technology that allows data to be managed and migrated seamlessly across on-premises, public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds. That vision is becoming a reality, Woodall told CRN.

"I'm already having multiple Data Fabric-only meetings with customers," he said. "We don't talk product other than how product fits into Data Fabric. I find it refreshing to talk about solutions. Customers are saying, 'This is real; we like it.'"

Greenqloud brings to Data Fabric an essential missing part of the vision, Woodall said. "What's been missing is orchestration and automation between clouds in the Data Fabric," he said. "Data Fabric is first and foremost a consistent way of managing data wherever it sits on-premises or in a cloud. Moving data from on-premises to the cloud, and to the next cloud, is enabled."

Automation and orchestration are the next part of the conversation, Woodall said. NetApp has been adding APIs and other technology for things like Kubernetes, Docker, and OpenStack, but needs orchestration to manage data consistently across clouds, he said.

"Greenqloud is the next step that NetApp needed to move forward," he said. "NetApp is developing a lot of technology, but sometimes a company needs to go outside for what it needs, and NetApp saw what it needs in Greenqloud."

NetApp is continuing to substantially outpace the growth of the all-flash array market, including both large and small competitors, Kurian said during his prepared comments.

"In Q1, our all-flash array business, inclusive of all-flash FAS, EF, and SolidFire products and services, grew 95 percent year-over-year to an annualized net revenue run rate of $1.5 billion," Kurian said.

NetApp's flash storage strength is also driving the company's success in SAN and converged infrastructure markets, Kurian said.

"Our share gains in the SAN market reflect our acquisition of new customers and new share of wallet within existing customers," he said. "The all-flash FlexPod helped to strengthen our number-two position in the converged infrastructure market and contributed to the 26-percent year-over-year growth of FlexPod reported in IDC's quarterly converged systems tracker for calendar Q1 2017. We are out-pacing and winning against full-stack vendors."

During the question-and-answer period of the conference call, Kurian said NetApp would provide more information about its upcoming hyper-converged infrastructure offering during its annual Insight conference, which will be held in Las Vegas in October.

NetApp expects its hyper-converged infrastructure product to be enterprise-ready when released, Kurian said.

"We have a clearly differentiated approach, just like we did with the all-flash array market where we came to market ready for enterprise workloads and not just for early adopters," he said.

For its first fiscal quarter 2018, ended July 28, NetApp reported revenue of $1.33 billion, up about 2 percent compared to its first fiscal quarter 2017 revenue of $1.29 billion.

GAAP net income for the first fiscal quarter 2018 was $136 million, or 49 cents per share, compared to last year's $64 million, or 23 cents per share. Non-GAAP net income for the first quarter was $173 million, or 62 cents per share, compared to last year's $129 million, or 46 cents per share. The earnings per share number beat analyst expectations by 7 cents, according to Seeking Alpha.

Looking forward to the second fiscal quarter, NetApp provided guidance revenue of between $1.31 billion and $1.46 billion, which at the halfway point would be a 3.4-percent increase over last year. The company's second fiscal quarter earnings per share are expected to be between 64 cents and 72 cents.