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The vendor used its Insight event in London to update customers and partners on the progress it has made with its data fabric strategy, supporting user data on-premise and in the public cloud, which it has been extolling for the past few years.
Anthony Lye, senior vice-president for NetApp’s cloud business unit, said the customer base was experiencing significant changes in the way they stored and used data, and most were going through a digital transformation process.
“We are now at a point in time unlike any other before. Transformation is the most important thing, and probably the most significant and scary thing, that all of your companies face today,” he told the audience.
“We haven’t even touched the potential of this digital transformation – 500 million applications are predicted to be built in the next five years, and that’s more applications than we’ve seen in the past 40 years,” he added.
The power of the large public cloud providers – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google – was addressed, and NetApp works with those firms, but Lye said most customers would continue to look to partners for help with on-premise needs.
“As much as the public clouds can deliver... hybrid is the reality of the infrastructure in which we will all exist,” he said.
Data partner with flexibility
Lye said customers were looking for a relationship with a provider that did not get hung up on the details of where their data resided and offered flexibility.
“We’ve really been starting to sort of position ourselves and get the respect of our customer base because they now see us not just as a storage vendor, not just a supplier of hardware wrapped in a datacentre, but as a partner that can help them with their data,” he said.
Anthony Lye, NetApp
He added that by taking a flexible approach, the company had been able to gain more business with customers looking for a data partner.
He said being strategic around data had “given NetApp a huge opportunity to help our customers in ways that we just weren’t before”, adding that it was “now getting a seat at the table in these very, very significant digital transformations”.
Paul Casey, chief technology officer, platforms and hybrid IT, at Computacenter, said every customer was looking at transformation, and many were going multicloud to get the benefits of working with more than one hyperscaler.
“What we’re trying to do is help them avoid getting stovepiped into one technology and using native tools, because they will have to be unpicked when they move to multicloud,” he said.
Casey pointed out that customers were looking for the flexibility that public cloud deployments appeared to provide in their on-premise infrastructure. “They want to bring in more automation, pay for usage, demand capacity and not have huge delays in between the business asking for it and getting it,” he said.
Casey said there was a need to move faster in modernising the datacentre to make sure it was connected to what was happening in the public and multicloud world, and that was the challenge that most customers were looking to their channel partners to solve.
Four talking points
NetApp views the following four things as important in setting the tone of the future architecture debate:
- Speed is more important than scale – the faster you are, the greater the chances of succeeding.
- Digital transformation requires IT transformation.
- Hybrid is here to stay.
- Data is widespread so the idea of a datacentre has to change.