NetApp GA’s Astra
NetApp has announced that its Astra data management application for Kubernetes clusters is now generally available as a “fully managed” service in Google Cloud Platform. It will also be available in Microsoft Azure in April of 2021 and available on-premises later this year.
Astra is a data management service that can be used with any Kubernetes cluster – private, public or hybrid cloud-based (see Figure 1 below). It leverages the use of NetApp’s Trident Container Storage Interface to provision persistent volumes to Kubernetes using NetApp ONTAP and Cloud Volumes storage platforms.
Astra provides a data management services overlay that facilitates and automates data protection, disaster recovery and application migration scenarios for Kubernetes clusters.
Astra collects metadata which is used for associating containers, persistent storage, and the Kubernetes container environment – a process that results in what NetApp terms as “application awareness.” In a data protection or disaster recovery scenario, this application awareness facilitates a recovery process. Simply backing up container data is in itself, not enough to recreate the Kubernetes environment when a problem occurs. The state of containers and the Kubernetes environment needs to also be included. This is what Astra accomplishes. However, because of its metadata-aided awareness, the Astra process can also be used for application portability and migration in the context of hybrid/multi-cloud environments.
Figure 1. NetApp’s Astra service for data management within Kubernetes container environments (source: NetApp)
Primary Astra Use Cases
As a SaaS application available in the cloud, Astra is positioned for the following Kubernetes use cases:
Data Protection with Snapshots – Automate the production of application-aware snapshot copies that are stored locally that can be used locally within a Kubernetes cluster to recover data when accidentally deleted or corrupted.
Disaster Recovery with Remote Backup – A full application-aware backup of an application plus data can be restored to a different Kubernetes cluster in the same or different region.
Application Portability – Move an entire application plus data from one between Kubernetes clusters regardless of location.
Data Management for Kubernetes
Astra provides administrative tools for the provisioning of persistent NetApp storage as well as the implementation of data protection, disaster recovery and data migration functions for Kubernetes clusters. These include copy functions for data snapshot and active cloning. The UI and APIs are consistent across clouds and Kubernetes distributions. Customers interact with Astra through the Astra Control Tower.
Astra is hosted in a public cloud as a SaaS application now and will be delivered on-premises later this year. NetApp manages a customer’s Astra instance from the standpoint of keeping it functional and up to date. Once a customer registers a Kubernetes cluster, Astra automatically discovers all applications running in the cluster, provisions storage to the cluster using Trident, and displays the data management services available to the Astra user.
Astra is available now to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) users as a free service for up to ten applications, or as a premium service for an unlimited number of applications. Charges are based on per-minute usage per application.
Evaluator Group Comments
As an enterprise storage vendor, NetApp has led the charge to the cloud. NetApp has aggressively pursued an increasing number of cloud-resident storage opportunities with services such as Cloud Volumes ONTAP and Azure NetApp Files. It now sees the rise of Kubernetes in enterprise data centers as an opportunity to capture new storage growth as the need for persistent container storage and enterprise-grade data management becomes increasingly apparent to IT administrators. Astra initiates its Kubernetes data management strategy and positions NetApp competitively with container-native storage from Red Hat (OpenShift Container Platform) and Portworx.