ESG's Mark Peters catches up with John Rollason, Senior Director and Head of Marketing of NetApp EMEA. This is Part 1 of a 2-part interview.
Read the related ESG Blog: NetApp's Change: In Conversation with John Rollason
Watch part two: Interview With NetApp's John Rollason - Part 2
Mark: Let's start by talking about change. I want to talk about change from two perspectives. First is even before we start talking about products and capabilities but the change you've seen in NetApp as a company, it's relative success over the last few years. Why did that happen? How did it happen?
John: Well I think a lot of it for me really started with George Kurian, our CEO. George had been with the company a few years before he took over as CEO but really you can track our transformation and that's the word that George uses a lot really back to that point. You look back over the last three years and the drive from George to really you know change our trajectory in our core storage business as well as build out new businesses in HCI and in cloud data services really has now started to bring real significant results.
Mark: So execution more than anything? Focus, I guess.
John: Yeah, I think so. I mean it started off really with a look at our business where we'd invested maybe more than we should have done in somewhat, you know, traditional technologies and really hadn't invested in some of the newer opportunities. So you know, I think you look back four, five years ago I think definitely there was a sort of an accusation that NetApp had missed, you know, the big transition from hard disk drives to flash drives and here we are, you know, few years later number one in that market which is fantastic to see. But also, you know, we've built our new businesses in cloud infrastructure and cloud data services so really exciting times.
Mark: Okay. Well, actually so you've mentioned a couple of the new things that moves us nicely to the other area of change, how you are changing the company to differentiate yourself from the competition. Talk to me about that.
John: Yeah, sure. So I came back to the company a couple of years ago as part of the SolidFire Acquisition and I think that was very much part of that change and that really needs to build out the differentiation of NetApp, but also, you know, to capture the opportunities as a head. So you know we have now done as we said we would do and brought out a really disruptive HCI platform really targeted at hybrid cloud infrastructure.
But also we've now got a very exciting new cloud data services business so really you know, services delivered as software from the cloud and our ability to build a data fabric to connect all of those services together from the modern data center with cloud-connected flash, cloud infrastructure with HCI and those sort of technologies and being able to bring innovation from the cloud into, you know, a combined strategy for our customers and partners is really, really exciting.
Mark: So just to play with you for a second, some other people would use some of those words. I see you talking as a company, going on the website you see this thing about Data Authority for the Hybrid Cloud which they're stringing together, you know, some applicable words. But again I want to come back to the question, what makes that different from other people who are using similar semantics?
John: Yeah. And again we can talk a little bit more about, you know, why we really are positioning ourselves as the data authority for the hybrid cloud. But I think that that differentiation of these different businesses, these different business units now within NetApp to really go and attack each of those markets is really having a strong impact on our business as I think the results now are starting to show.
So in terms of sort of differentiation, I think we absolutely believe in a hybrid cloud world. I think we're starting to see a lot of announcements out there from, you know, many parts of the industry that's validating that and so we've partnered with the world's biggest hyperscalers, you know, the level of innovation that they can bring to an organization, one of our customers is fantastic to see but we've also made it very clear that we feel people need to build a data fabric to connect those different parts of the infrastructure together.
And that's sort of the unique position that NetApp is in today, being able to, you know, build out and help our customers move further forward on the storage journey, if you want, but also be able to connect with cloud infrastructure and cloud data services, you know, in a unique way with the data fabric.