NetApp CEO: Hybrid cloud will be the only way to capitalize on generative AI

NetApp CEO George Kurian
(Image credit: Getty Images)

An increased focus on generative AI and hybrid cloud strategies have aligned at a perfect time for organizations globally, according to NetApp CEO George Kurian.

Speaking to ITPro at the NetApp Insight conference in Las Vegas, Kurian said that hybrid cloud will enable businesses exploring the use of generative AI tools to fine tune their strategy before going to market and provide more robust, safe, and consumer-ready services. 

Businesses flirting with the prospect of generative AI-powered tools, services, or platforms will, in the first instance, naturally gravitate toward public cloud, he said.

However, long-term, a hybrid cloud approach will likely be the go-to model for hosting generative AI workloads due to the flexibility afforded by the practice.

“I think the hybrid cloud is a classic AI business use case,” he told ITPro. “Customers will want to try proof of concepts on the public cloud where all the modern tools are available, and once they understand which makes sense, they can scale it in their own data center.” 

This will depend entirely on the unique circumstances of individual businesses, Kurian stressed. Larger organizations operating in critical industries will likely focus heavily on on-prem data architectures to ensure safety and security.

Smaller businesses could unlock benefits with a blended hybrid of multi-cloud approach, however.

“I’m sure there will be different models for different classes of customers,” he said. “For those that are large and are regulated, they’ll do everything on-prem. For those that are smaller and more agile, they’ll probably do everything on cloud and get a blend.”

“It’s easier, for example, in the cloud to collaborate across organizations. So if you are a research institution that’s collaborating with another on an AI tool chain, it might be easier to do it on the public cloud rather than your own data center environments.”


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Kurian’s comments on the confluence of generative AI and hybrid cloud practices aren’t an entirely unique perspective.

VMware, for example, recently highlighted a growing focus on supporting organizations to harness multi-cloud capabilities to drive generative AI innovation and development. 

NetApp confirmed the expansion of its AFF C-Series capacity flash storage option will also now be integrated with its ONTAP AI architecture in a bid to further support customers developing AI tools in a hybrid cloud environment. 

The move is part of a concerted effort to help drive AI development among customers and leverage the flexibility advantages of hybrid cloud.

Businesses globally are coming to realize the benefits of hybrid cloud and the ability to shift applications and workloads on-and-off the cloud and into data center environments.

In 2022, 48% of technology leaders revealed they were “mostly hybrid” compared to just 40% in 2020, according to a study by Google which underlines a gradual, yet steady shift in focus. 

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

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