NetApp CEO George Kurian. Photo by Lynn Greiner.

Published: November 13th, 2019

LAS VEGAS – The keystone of an arch is the stone at the top that holds everything together, and that’s what NetApp is aiming for with its Keystone program. Unveiled at the company’s annual user conference, Insight, Keystone offers a simplified way to achieve the agility of cloud infrastructure, either on premises or through any major cloud provider or providers.

Chief executive officer George Kurian told the 4,500 attendees that the group of programs, services, and offerings lets NetApp deliver a consistent experience across public cloud and data centre, building on NetApp’s data fabric.

“NetApp Keystone enables you to simplify the business of hybrid cloud data services,” he said. “It provides flexible cloud consumption models that make it easy to buy, easy to consume, and easy to operate NetApp capability, whether it’s on premises or in the public cloud, and you get to pay for it as a metered utility with zero upfront commitment, as a subscription, or with a capital purchase.”

Keystone Subscription Services gives customers the public cloud experience on premises. To subscribe, they simply pick the performance tier (high performance, standard, or value), choose file, block, or object data services, and decide whether they want to manage the storage themselves or have NetApp do so. Subscriptions are paid monthly, quarterly, or yearly, with a one-year commitment, for committed capacity, and include the ability to burst on demand.

“We share the risk with you,” he said. “We retain the title to the assets that you deploy in your data centre, we allow you to burst, and we give you the option to deploy in your co-located data centre and managed environments.”

The third part of NetApp Keystone, Kurian said, is for customers who still want to buy capital infrastructure. It simplifies the ordering system and provides a digital product selector. Product support offering have also been enhanced, with predictable pricing.

“NetApp Keystone marks the next major evolution of the data fabric,” he said. “For five years we have led the market in innovating in data services for hybrid IT. Today we are taking the next step forward providing you with a simplified integrated cloud-like customer experience that is deployable anywhere, in the cloud or in your data centre.”

While hybrid multicloud was the magic phrase this year, NetApp didn’t neglect its legacy products, announcing a new version of ONTAP as well as new hardware, including the AFF All SAN array featuring symmetric active-active controllers for instant failover that got spontaneous applause from Kurian’s keynote audience.

Karen López, data evangelist at Infoadvisors, found the announcements interesting, but felt they were lacking in detail.

“Most of the information I got was more about their messaging and their successes from last year and in previous years,” she said. “So that tells me they are still working on this transition from being a hardware company to being a data services company, and that’s not an easy thing to do.”

“I wasn’t expecting them to say they’re fully transitioned,” she went on. “I didn’t get to see enough of the technical side of what they’re announcing to form an opinion. It sounds like a great strategy. There are other things I’d like to see them doing – I’d like every company to be doing this – I wanted to hear more about, if they’re going to be a data services company, how are they addressing the big data problems right now:  privacy and security. I’m sure they’re doing things around security, but I expected to hear more.”