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NetApp: It's all about data

If there is one theme coming out of NetApp Insight 2016 in Berlin then it is that customers need help with data management

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: MicroScope: MicroScope: December 2016:

If data is power, the life blood of an organisation and a commodity that has real value in a digital economy then NetApp is fairly confident it is in a good place to help partners exploit it.

The storage firm has gathered customers and partners together in Berlin this week to share its latest product updates and views on the market.

One of the main conclusions the firm has come to is that it's heritage managing data is now a major strength in the cloud world.

With the expectation that the future will be based around a hybrid cloud environment the NetApp data fabric vision is being pitched as the solution for those customers trying to pull data across numerous private and public environments together.

"Data is the currency of this digital economy," said Henri Richard, executive vice president of worldwide field and customer operations, NetApp "We have a unique opportunity and responsibility together to help our customers manage this data, derive the insights from this data, so that together we can help them transform their businesses."

"From that standpoint NetApp has a wonderful history. For the past twenty years we have been serving over 30,000 customers we have been your partner and given you the tools to manage this increasingly complex amount of data," he added.

He warned that other vendors wanted to put users into a 'data prison' where they were locked into silos unable to move data freely around their organisations.

He said that there was always going to be a need for on-premise data storage and that would have to run alongside the information that was being put into the cloud.

"When one of our competitors was acquired by a PC company people said that NetApp was the last independent storage company. That's not who we are. Who we are is the first independent data management expertise company," he said.

Data fabric

NetApp has been working towards its data fabric vision over the last couple of years. In a nutshell it is about enabling data to be seamlessly connect to on-premise and cloud resources. Data needs to be accessible from anywhere.


He said that the firm had been on its own transformation journey to make sure it could back that statement up with actions and had done a lot to move its focus to customer-centric innovation that meant more flash products and changes to the business model to provide greater flexibility.

"To do all this we had to think a little bit about our go-to-market and it's about partner first. We want to make sure that our partners are at the tip of the arrow of our strategy," added Richard.

"We want to be faster and be more devisive and we want to be a force that you are confident to partner with in this industry," he said.

With customers struggling to work out if their data needs to be in a public or private cloud and which services they might then need to buy to make that work the consulting ability of the partner becomes crucial.

Thomas Ehrlich, vice president pathways and operations EMEA, said that its channel base was quite capable of dealing with customer questions about their data strategies.

"The partners have been watching their customers for a long time and they understand the geographical layout, the network layout, they understand the investment cycles, the install base and they know where their professional services and the customer's operational people overlap and where they don't, so it is a lot of knowledge," he said.

"Some of them have been smart enough to transfer that knowledge into a sales approach for verticals," he added "The VAR 2.0 is a company that can connect and first of all moves the customer's on premise equipment to private cloud and then connects the private cloud with the public cloud."

Data management requirements

Customers are looking for help with some specific things when it comes to looking after their storage according to NetApp's senior vice president & general manager EMEA Alex Wallner:

1. Cost efficiency
2. Non disruptive operations
3. Automation
4. Performance (flash)
5. Cloud integration

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