DSA recently visited NetApp’s office in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, as we were afforded the opportunity to interview Jay Daliparthy, NetApp’s Global Senior Product Manager of Flash and Rob McDonald, Global Group Manager, Solutions Marketing. Jay and Rob were in KL as part of their visit to NetApp’s offices in the Asian region, which includes stops in Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta and Tokyo.
After several challenging years, NetApp has clearly turned a corner and is achieving numbers and growth that are bucking the trend in the enterprise storage space. According to Rob, a lot of variables can be attributed to the turnaround, but two big areas have been their commitment to the flash space and the appointment of George Kurian who has brought renewed energy and vision to the company, helping derive some of the change from the top down.
Rob commented, “We already had over 20 years of knowing how to do efficiency – things like data deduplication, thin provisioning, we have fantastic integrated data protection. And now we’ve brought flash to that portfolio with AFF. Now we have enterprise grade flash. Some other vendors started with flash. They found that it’s harder to bring enterprise features into a high-performance product. Even though we might have been late with flash, we were able to very quickly catch up because we already had what we would call enterprise grade.”
NetApp certainly didn’t take very long to catch up with their competitors. In a span of about 18 months, NetApp rose from number five to number two in the all-flash array market according to IDC and they’re hoping to keep the momentum going. Under CEO George Kurian, NetApp as a company is undergoing a transformation phase, evolving from a storage company to a data company. Rob stated that they’re currently in the 2.0 version of their transformation – with it comes a new narrative and long-term strategy for the company.
“We’re repositioning the company to be focused on enabling customers to change the world with data, and positioning ourselves as the data authority. And underneath that is our Data Fabric story, the ability that we give to customers to seamlessly migrate data when and where they need it to make the best use of it from a financial and availability perspective”. Rob added, “That’s really the cornerstone of our Data Fabric story, which is the foundational component of how we’re helping customers change the world with data. Together with our partners, we empower global organizations to unleash the full potential of their data to expand customer touchpoints, foster greater innovation, and optimize their operations”.
Among the changes NetApp has made to improve its business include investments in their partner ecosystem, sales capacity, ONTAP transition programs, All Flash Arrays, FlexPod, SolidFire, product simplification, hybrid cloud and the Data Fabric, not to forget their long-anticipated entry into the hyper-converged space with NetApp HCI. Jay and Rob also highlighted two programs that have been added to NetApp’s portfolio to benefit their customers, namely the NetApp All-Flash Guarantee which guarantees a “workload-specific effective capacity” and the industry’s only flexible rewards program, NetApp NextCredit, that customers can take advantage of towards building out their Data Fabric.
The dynamics within the IT industry is changing and according to Jay, NetApp is heading where the market is moving. Their aim is to take data management to the next level, to give customers regardless of their circumstances the ultimate flexibility on how they manage their data wherever it needs to be; whether on-premise, in the cloud or somewhere in between. Jay assured us that even though the NetApp offering is becoming wider, everything in their portfolio is designed to work together. The diversity, flexibility and level of integration that NetApp has to offer is the underpinning of their Data Fabric story.
There’s evidently a renewed buzz of energy and optimism over at NetApp. Jay and Rob pointed out that it’s an exciting time to be at the company. They’re aiming to be number one and at the rate they’re going, it isn’t a distant possibility.