NetApp announced yesterday that their Cloud Volumes service is now available in preview on Google Cloud Platform. With this announcement, Cloud Volumes is now available as a preview on all the major public cloud platforms. NetApp has been turning their battleship from a storage to a data company for a while, and having Cloud Volumes available across the board is a major win for the company.
If you’re not familiar with Cloud Volumes, it’s an interesting offering by NetApp. It plays to their traditional strength as a filer with data services but packages it in a way that’s easily accessible to cloud-native applications. NetApp has had ONTAP Cloud available for a few years. From a feature perspective, it’s very similar to what they now offer with Cloud Volumes. However the devil is in the implementation. ONTAP Cloud is geared for traditional infrastructure folks. You have to provision and maintain the cloud instance that ONTAP Cloud runs on. This gives it a great deal of flexibility, but requires the right skills and personnel to keep it running.
Cloud Volumes doesn’t require any of this, with NetApp keeping everything running behind the scenes. Instead, you get a series of documented APIs that you can plug applications into to get the benefit of the advanced data services. Their Google Cloud Platform implementation of Cloud Volumes will be similar to what is being tested on Microsoft Azure. This will be a first-party offering on GCP, meaning it’ll be natively available as an offering in their dashboard. Right now Cloud Volumes on AWS is a third-party offering, requiring users to seek it out in the Marketplace. It’s clear that the public cloud providers see the value of adding NetApp’s filer and data services solutions to their platform. Obviously the next step is to move Cloud Volumes into general availability.
Cloud Volumes represents a new way of thinking for NetApp. Instead of leveraging their rich IP in data services and filers to simply move more ONTAP, NetApp is now offering those services themselves. The company seems committed to making a full feature set available via documented APIs to cloud customers. In some ways, it’s a turn that mirror what Microsoft has been doing recently, offering services directly across platforms instead of using them as a way to push Windows. Cloud Volumes is just one step in NetApp’s transformation as a company, which is tied to their overall Data Fabric strategy and vision.