A New NetApp? (Includes Video)

PetersNetAppInsight2019NetApp’s Insight event last week felt very different to me from prior iterations. The degree of "credible spring in its corporate step" was noticeably improved. An outside -- and purely numbers-focused -- observer might find that somewhat counter-intuitive as NetApp's recent financial results have not been what the Sunnyvale outfit would have wanted. Meantime, I’ll also bet that some long-in-the-tooth customer attendees found the changes surprising and even a little jarring. After all, NetApp generally -- and Insight specifically -- has traditionally been a comfortable, technically astute organization. The Filer Cult. Even when it has been way more than that.

While the change has been coming for a while, the event felt like a coming-out party....almost the arrival of a new NetApp. While there were products aplenty, the centerpiece of everything was not a technology, but rather an approach to connecting with and serving customers -- NetApp's Keystone embraces flexible consumption approaches with sophisticated and straightforward customer care, guarantees, and advice. Here are my summary thoughts from the event - including a chat with Henri Richard who leads NetApp's global sales efforts -- and the meaning its contents have for NetApp's place in the world.


Of course NetApp hopes that its new Keystone approach –- which is not yet fully complete, not yet fully perfect, but is nonetheless a massive integrated commitment that's highly aligned with what users say they want -- will deliver it more business from both the "choir" attending Insight and from the massive untapped market potential that is laid open to it in a hybrid cloud world. In that respect, it is like so many other vendors; and a cynic could automatically leap to discussions of the danger of vendor lock-in that can all-too-easily be the hidden cost of leaning heavily into one approach over others. But this is where NetApp diverges from many of its competitors -- its focus on data and orchestration comes with a committed degree of open-ness and meritocratic flexibility that is truly impressive. So, for sure, NetApp would like to lock you in to its offerings, but it will also effectively give you a key...meaning that if you stay, it will be by choice. And that's new.

Topics: Storage