In this ESG On Location Video, ESG's Mark Peters and Steve Duplessie report on their insights from NetApp Insight 2016, held in Las Vegas.
Announcer: The following is an ESG On Location video.
Mark: Welcome to NetApp Insight 2016. NetApp's Insight has always been a little different from some of the other industry events, inasmuch as it's very pragmatic, very technical. There's a lot of real work that actually gets done here. Meantime, I think from my perspective looking at the company, the key point is about change. There's a lot changing in the industry, everything from hearing from George Kurian that NetApp is now the fastest growing SAN vendor, and obviously this is the first year that this conference takes place with EMC maybe not gone but folded into Dell. That leaves a popular discussion about NetApp being the last big independent storage company, the last man standing, if you like. I think the story is actually not that at all. I'll come back to that later on in this video. Meantime, let's hear what my boss, Steve Duplessie, founder of ESG, what he thought of the conference.
Steve: I love NetApp. I've always loved NetApp. I've been concerned like many people have been. Here's my takeaways. The company hasn't fundamentally changed. They still don't tell people the great things they do. If they did, oh, I can only imagine the wonderment that would happen here. The good news is that there's been a change at the leadership ranks. I loved all the old leaders, but new people are good. New people are mixing things up. New people are saying things that should be said. New people are not afraid of the repercussions of what historically has been waffle only. These guys are interesting. In every single meeting that I went to, and Mark was in most of them with me, he'll have more details, but in every single meeting I went to I went oh my God I didn't know that. My knock to NetApp is why don't I know that. My kudos to NetApp is oh my God you've got stuff that everybody wants to know. We'll see what happens.
Mark: Steve mentioned I'd have some specifics. Let's give you a few. The perhaps most obvious and traditional is that there were six new platforms. AFF has revamped platforms, which is cool, but it's just part of the progress of doing business in this industry. For many people at this conference it was the first time they got to hear about SolidFire, which is obviously a key part of NetApp's future.
Then, there was also perhaps the biggest news of all, the revamped version of ONTAP 9. The interesting thing about that is it's a lot more new than you might think just by it having an iterative number in the ONTAP family. More importantly, it's really a bridge between the traditional NetApp and where NetApp is heading with its whole data fabric promise and endeavor.
Perhaps that's where I really want to concentrate, because the other thing we got at this conference, lots of granular small manifestations of a reality behind data fabric. Quite honestly, I think given what Steve said those are things that even NetApp doesn't realize quite how much it yet has of a compelling story there. Those are some of the specific things changing.
I said at the introduction to this video that there's lots of talk about NetApp being the last big independent storage company standing. I think actually that's not the point here. It's not about being the last storage company standing. It's about being the first company to stand up a data fabric. Whether that's D F or just generally doesn't really matter right now. Clearly, for the company to succeed there's a lot of change internally as well as in the industry. That's a lot to deal with. There are new people, new processes, new ways. Everything from selling to development is changing at NetApp. What I do see, though, are lots of shoots of spring and innovation.
The one challenge is can it deliver. What I would hate to see is the bright ideas of data fabric...I'd hate to see NetApp, if you like, become what Xerox was to the PC industry, where really as we all know PARC designed, developed all those things that we're used to today for personal computing. From the computer to the Internet to the mouse to GUIs, it all came from there and they never made any money from it. NetApp has all those similar ideas. Hopefully, if it can deliver then it will not be the Xerox of the Cloud age.