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NetApp Cloud Insights: Visibility of Everything for Everyone

Cloud costing and operations are a booming business. Whether an organization has made a transition from their on premises data center to the cloud, or have created an application that was born in the cloud, the story is the same. The ease of consuming the resources needed to “just make things work” has led to uncontrolled spending and higher than expected bills. Misuse of resources and access by unauthorized users is a common problem as well.

Many companies and products have emerged to address this situation and help cloud customers identify areas where they are paying for resources that are underutilized or even abandoned completely. The names in the space are becoming more well known from the likes of Cloud Checkr, Cloudability, and many more. Where many of these platforms fall short, however, is collecting data about existing on premises infrastructure and applications and translating them into usable information for comparison and migration to the public cloud.

A Solution From an Unexpected Source

To provide a complete picture of infrastructure usage and offer optimization recommendations regardless of location be it private, public, or hybrid cloud, NetApp recently released Cloud Insights. During his presentation at Tech Field Day 19, James Holden, director of NetApp’s cloud analytics team, provided both an overview of and deep dive into the features and functionality of Cloud Insights.

While it is true that Cloud Insights can collect data on NetApp equipment, being a NetApp customer is not required to use and extract value from the platform. Cloud Insights can collect data from a variety of on premises and cloud infrastructure vendors. The advantage of being a NetApp customer is largely that you can use the free version of Cloud Insights to monitor your NetApp equipment, but most functionality in the platform still requires a subscription to the standard or premium edition of the platform.

Breadth of Functionality

Once you have established an account, Cloud Insights can collect information about all on premises and cloud infrastructure by use of what they call an acquisition unit. This can collect and correlate data about storage and VM infrastructure to identify usage patterns and user behaviors. This helps with both optimization of resources by identify waste and security by identifying anomalies in user behavior.

We have seen many platforms that help public cloud customers make sense of their resource utilization and make recommendations on the basis of either cost or security, and sometimes both. Very few however are able to make similar recommendations for on premises infrastructure and make correlations between an on premises infrastructure and a public cloud. There are some capabilities for this within Cloud Insights, but it seems NetApp’s belief is that customers will want to refactor their applications to be cloud native rather than lift and shift, so this functionality will not have as much value as many think. While it may be true that many customers would prefer to refactor their applications, a large number find themselves in the lift and shift, then refactor application lifecycle and would benefit greatly from a platform that could help them rightsize cloud instances as a part of their migration.

Customers who are interested in the full capabilities of the platform can elect to sign up for a trial as with many other similar platforms. If you watch the videos of James’ demos of the platform you may be impressed with the amount of functionality but also a bit apprehensive about the amount of onboarding that may be necessary before being able to utilize the platform fully and extract value from it. Fortunately, NetApp has provided a getting started guide with the platform and has further learning opportunities for ramp up on NetApp University.

Ken’s Conclusion

When we first saw Cloud Insights at Tech Field Day 19, it was a very new platform with great promise. Much of what was showed was still in preview and some future features were only mentioned and not yet ready to demo. With a platform that helps customers gain understanding and control of infrastructure, data, and applications regardless of location though, NetApp has a product that will have broad appeal and adoption as it matures.

About the author

Ken Nalbone

Ken is an IT infrastructure professional with over 15 years experience. His areas of specialty are the software-defined data center and cloud technologies. In addition to being a writer for Gestalt IT, Ken is an Event Lead for the Cloud Field Day and Tech Field Day series of events.

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