Refocussing NetApp

On Tuesday of this week (June 8th) NetApp made a press announcement focussed on “simplifying the journey to the hybrid cloud” (you can find it here). It really caught my attention and I wanted to share some thoughts on why.

Why an announcement?

Over the last few years, NetApp has been busily building an impressive suite of cloud services and solutions covering areas like Kubernetes, backup for SaaS platforms and cloud integrations to their datacentre technologies and that is backed by recent earnings calls showing solid growth in this area. Personally, however, I have had reservations. Firstly, how well have NetApp told that story? Do enough know? Do too many still see them as a datacentre storage company? And secondly, has that work been done at the expense of a focus on the traditional, loyal, and strong NetApp customer base? I think that they are both valid concerns and I wonder if they have limited NetApp In developing as clear leaders in this space? This is why this announcement caught my attention if feels like they are taking an opportunity to refocus and address some of these concerns.

Setting the record straight

NetApp has a fantastic data services portfolio, with a breadth, in my opinion, unmatched in the industry, providing consistent data services and management across the enterprise from datacentre to the public cloud. A breadth that allows a business to modernise their datacentre and consume cloud strategically rather than demanding sweeping change. Having these capabilities is essential to today’s enterprise allowing them to start to modernise and fill the gaps that traditional approaches have left.

But if people don’t know these solutions exists or find them hard to consume, has the vendor done as good a job as they could? Whether they have or they haven’t, a vendor with a focus on offering a flexible foundation, unified management and a simplification of consumption models is to be welcomed. A focus in these areas can make a real difference to those enterprises who are not cloud-native or cloud-first, which I believe is the majority, but who do have the desire and demand to modernise.

The Highlights

What is in this announcement that is practically going to help those enterprises? To help move them from their traditional infrastructure to one that provides the flexibility, scale and simplicity they demand?

The Hybrid Cloud Specialist

When we want to drive change, we must find specialists and NetApp are keen to underline their credentials not only as a data storage company but one that has gained valuable skills in delivering data management in both the cloud and the datacentre. With ONTAP at the heart of its strategy, they can simplify and unify data management like no one else. The importance of consistency and simplicity when we modernise cannot be underestimated.

Adding portfolio flexibility

While the public cloud provides both technical and commercial flexibility, this is more challenging in the datacentre. NetApp already recognises this with flexible consumption models for their physical technology. With this announcement, however, they are boosting it with new as-a-service platforms and flexible subscriptions in conjunction with partners Equinix, Cisco and NVIDIA. While this kind of approach still has challenges it is promising to see vendors trying to address it, because today’s enterprise needs flexibility across all of its business to meet modern demands.

Extensive and relevant

In a world where our use of technology needs to be broader and more flexible, our vendor partners need to have equally broad portfolios of solutions. This is where I believe NetApp are very strong, if you look beyond this announcement at their broader cloud portfolio, you start to get an idea of how they can support the modernising enterprise. Tools like Cloud Volumes deliver consistent data services from the datacentre to the public cloud. Data Sense and Cloud Insights, giving detailed information of not only the performance of your infrastructure but crucial insight into the use of data providing native security and control. This is why a fresh focus on NetApp to educate enterprises about these broad hybrid cloud capabilities is so important because modern business needs these kinds of tools to succeed.

Summary

A simple announcement means nothing without delivering on the promises it makes, so whether NetApp does that remains to be seen, but it is promising that they recognise the challenge and want to solve it. I started this article by outlining two personal areas of criticism, mainly aimed at whether NetApp has been as effective as it could have been in sharing the message about these industry-leading solutions to those who need to hear it. As a long time user of NetApp technology, I do believe they can deliver a platform to the enterprise like no other and so them having a renewed focus on how they can make this great technology more accessible and easier to use can only be a very good thing.

What do you think of the announcement? Do you see NetApp as a hybrid cloud specialist or a storage company? Let me know.

Check out more of NetApp’s hybrid cloud portfolio here https://www.netapp.com/hybrid-cloud/.

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