NetApp to make stateful applications easier to do in Kubernetes

NetApp is introducing an enterprise-class data service for stateful, cloud-native applications, which can work with any Kubernetes distribution.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Most web applications are stateless. These don't save client data from one session for the client's next session. A stateful app is one that saves client data from one session to the next. There are advantages to both approaches. But it's not been easy to run stateful applications in containers. NetApp wants to fix that with Project Astra, a Kubernetes storage and container platform. 

In Kubernetes' early days, it was usually used to run web-based stateless services. If you needed stateful services, such as a database, you had to run them in virtual machines (VM) or as cloud-based services. Now, with the rise of the Kubernetes-based hybrid cloud, users want to deploy stateful apps on top of Kubernetes orchestrated containers. 

Project Astra is a software-defined storage (SDS) platform. It will deliver a stateful storage and data services platform for Kubernetes. This, in turn, enables both application and data portability for stateful applications. 

Eric Han, NetApp's VP of CDS product management for cloud portfolio, explained: "Many organizations realize that the associated data and data services -- storing, governing, protecting, and replicating data -- are not easy to consume and not portable with Kubernetes." Asta promises to "improve data visibility of cloud-native apps by automating discovery of applications and application data, cataloging data and backups, reporting on data usage, and much more."

That's important, because, as Beth Busenhart, a NetAppmarket strategist said, "Kubernetes is becoming ubiquitous as an orchestrator for container applications. It is focused on portability." That's all well and good, but it also means "containers are stateless, and portability of the data is lost," Beth said.

There are ways to bring stateful services to Kubernetes. One of the most common is to integrate the Kubernetes cluster with traditional storage infrastructure and decoupling the storage layer from the Kubernetes managed compute layer. But this approach is neither portable nor does it deliver high I/O throughput. 

Project Astra, which is still in beta, will let developers create portable, fast I/O Kubernetes stateful applications. These can move, along with its data and the data services, across multiple public and private clouds. This makes the promise of being able to move programs across hybrid clouds much easier to fulfill.  NetApp's vision for Project Astra is to enable companies to work seamlessly with their choice of Kubernetes distribution on any cloud. 

This comes after NetApp realized the futility of competing with dozens of other Kubernetes vendors with its own proprietary NetApp Kubernetes Service (NKS). The open-source Astra has much more promise of finding customers. 

NetApp is working on Astra with the Kubernetes community. Its goal is to build a platform to help you: 

• Discover applications with your Kubernetes of choice, whether on your premises or in a cloud.
• Integrate and unify applications and data management.
• Deliver NetApp's expertise in data and Kubernetes both as a service and as built-in capabilities.
• Extend the promise of portability for all workloads, including stateful, data-rich apps.

"As the first product manager for Kubernetes with Google back in 2014, I'm thrilled to be at NetApp as we continue to lead the effort to tackle the very real challenges that organizations are facing," said Eric Han, VP of product management for NetApp's Cloud Data Services in a statement. " With Project Astra, NetApp is delivering on the true promise of portability that professionals working with Kubernetes require today and is working in parallel with the community and our customers to make all data managed, protected, and portable, wherever it exists." 

Kubernetes developers and operations managers who are interested in participating can sign up today to learn more about Project Astra

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