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Flash and talk of beating rivals dominate NetApp partner forum

NetApp has been in an upbeat mood as it talk to partners in Lisbon about its flash growth and why now is a good time to attack the competition

NetApp has used its Executive partner Forum in Lisbon as a forum to encourage the channel to take advantage of the uncertainty caused by the Dell and EMC merger and to outline its ambitions in the flash market.

With the tie-up between Dell and EMC entering its final phases NetApp executives encouraged their channel partners to take advantage of the confusion that it has perceived being out in the market.

Other vendors, notably HPE with its full page advertising campaign in some national newspapers, have already looked to stir up customer fears over the forthcoming changes and NetApp resellers were also given a call to arms.

Thomas Ehrlich, vice president pathways & operations EMEA, at NetApp, said that it had a full product portfolio and its channel had the ammunition to go out and take more market share.

Other executives added their call to get their partners pitching an alternative to concerned EMC partners with Matt Watts, director, technology and strategy at NetApp, using a section of his session to dwell on the competitive landscape.  

"I am confused and I think they are confused at the moment," he added that some of the products did not seem to be as competitive as rivals and the roadmap post the merger was not clear.

"It gives us an opportunity to take advantage of that confusion. Also some of their products are coming to the end of their life," he added "The products are right and the timing is right so we are in a great position."

"From a competitive position I don't think we have ever been in a better position as a company with the products and solutions that we have but I also don't think we have been in a better position when we look out across the competitive landscape and the position our competitors are in right now. It is absolutely the opportunity and the moment to really take this on," he said.

On the flash side NetApp trumpeted the most recent numbers from IDC that showed it had moved from 5th position in the last cuple of years to 2nd worldwide giving itself a momentum that could challenge EMC in pole position.

"this was one of the first companies to embrace flash," said Henri Richard, executive vice president, worldwide field and customer operations at NetApp "But somewhere since that start and today we lost our leadership. But we until NetApp got its mojo back and we had an incredible year in terms of our flash solution."

"Even though this company has over twenty years of history and has been a pioneer in many ways the best is yet to come for NetApp and our partners," he added that flash was one of the most important technologies to hit the storage world.

"We have two fundamental issues going on at the same time. Often our industry has been rocked that you had a business model change or a technology change. Whats happening right now is you have both at the same time. The cloud is disrupting the traditional business models and flash is disrupting the traditional technology assumptions. Flash is not only something that changes the disk drive industry but also changes the licensing, the number of CPUs and power that you are going to consume. It is not so often that you have the combination of a deep technology disruption and a deep business model disruption," said Richard.

The Forum was also an opportunity for the vendor to underline just how important the channel is to the business with the vendor's last results showing that of the $5.5bn revenues it made last year and of that $4bn went through the channel.

In Europe 81.5% of the business goes via partners and the expectation is that will remain going forward and the indirect business grew by 8% year-on-year in EMEA.

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