ESG Analysts Mark Peters and Mike Leone bring you their impressions from NetApp Insight 2018
Read the related ESG Blog: NetApp Insight: Both a Conference Name and an Apropos Comment
Announcer: The following is an ESG on location video.
Mark: Welcome to NetApp Insight 2018. A few years ago, if we're gonna be completely honest, there might have been questions raised about whether we would even get to a NetApp Insight 2018. There were, you know, four or five years ago, significant questions about whether or not NetApp itself, at least as it was, would even survive. Now, honestly, the questions are about how much can it thrive, because clearly, it has changed the goalposts, the market has changed, and so the opportunity for this company is enormous.
The changes have been from a product set, from a execution perspective, from a financial perspective. Sometimes the small details are what's interesting. In his keynote, George Kurian talked about the ability to now do software in 2 weeks to do turns, where it used to take 20 months. Just dramatic changes everywhere you look in this organization. To talk about some of the specific announcements and most significant commentary from this week, I'm gonna hand over to my colleague, Mike Leone.
Mike: The most notable takeaway for me was really around the idea of NetApp evolving. They're being much more than an infrastructure company at this point, right, they're morphing into this cloud data services data management organization that's looking to really empower organizations to use their data wherever it may reside, and they want to enable the ability to move data wherever it needs to be, based on your application requirements and your data requirements. And obviously, stitching the core, the edge, the public cloud, the multicloud, stitching it all together is really that NetApp data fabric. One of the other more notable pieces is really around the HCI terminology. Brad Anderson got on stage and has constantly been battling this concept of, "Are you HCI or are you not HCI?" And NetApp finally came out with this idea of HCI stands for Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure, and it's such a natural fit for the company's vision. And I'm actually very excited for NetApp in being able to embark on this journey of trying to redefine what HCI means.
Mark: Before Mike takes us through some of the other granular detailed announcements and significant news from the conference, I just wanna take a second and share something with you. Very often, doing this job at these sorts of events, you'll get into a conversation, and they always ask, "What's the best thing you heard? What's the best piece of news?" Ironically here, the best piece of news I heard was something that was never actually said per se, which is that strategically, there's no change. It's still data fabric all the way. The descriptors may change. This year, we see "Inspire," "Build," and "Modernize," but it's all around this idea of hybrid multicloud world, which is simply the way NetApp today is talking about data fabrics and their manifestation.
Mike: As Mark mentioned, this is still a vendor trade show, and with that comes loads of announcements, as well as compelling demos in the keynotes, that highlight things from hybrid cloud integration with all the major hyperscalers, as well as some of the latest next-generation technology coming out of NetApp.
First was the Kubernetes automation that allows organizations to select from available storage automatically, to match application and data requirements. And there was a NetApp HCI-validated architecture for Red Hat OpenShift, SnapMirrors to Cloud Volume ONTAP, GPU support for VDI workloads in NetApp HCI, there's a flash-accelerated network object store for IoT and other analytics use cases. Of course they mentioned MAX Data, that will deliver a persistent memory tier to ONTAP. And finally Cloud Insights, which is really an end-to-end data management software solution, that's really a fully contained service that allows organizations to manage and monitor on-premises and cloud environments.
Mark: So to summarize from this event, I'm back, literally and figuratively, to big NetApp. Data-driven was everywhere at this conference, and looking at what's happened with the market and what NetApp is able to deliver, it looks like they were right to choose data-driven. But one of the problems with being right, in this case about being data-driven, is that it breeds replication. Other people start talking about similar things. And NetApp now I think needs to not change, but to add part of its story to be not just about data-driven, but to extend the analogy, data destinations. Their leadership means that they have more to talk about from what being data-driven can actually mean for an organization, and frankly, I think, after the last few years, they've earned the right.