NetApp has dismissed claims it is "the last independent storage company" following Dell's buy of EMC, insisting instead it is "the first independent data-management expertise company".
In a keynote speech at NetApp's Insight technical conference in Berlin, the vendor's vice president for worldwide field and customer operations Henri Richard set the record straight about where the vendor sits in the competitive landscape.
"I think we can say that we have delivered - bar none - the best return on investment on any storage technology platform in this industry - and we intend to continue to do that," he boasted on stage.
"When one of our competitors was acquired by a PC company, people said NetApp is the last independent storage company. I want to tell you that's not who we are. What we are is the first independent data-management expertise company." His comments prompted loud applause from the 3,500 delegates gathered at the event.
"These would be empty words if I didn't give you some proof points," he added. "We pivoted towards the fastest-growing parts of the market. Look at what we're doing in flash, software-defined and converged systems. You will see how much progress we've made. Secondly, we also had to transform how you can acquire these from us - it's about new business models. Capex will decline so our platform needs to be available in lots of different ways.
"To do this we also have to think about our go-to-market. We want to make sure our partners are at the tip of the arrow of our strategy. We like to co-develop, we want to make sure we combine our skills, we want to leverage their expertise - we don't need to know and do everything. You have our commitment that we will continue to lead our go-to-market with partners at the core of our strategy."
Feisty on flash
In recent years, the flash storage market has exploded, with up-and-coming start-ups shouting about their specialist expertise in the space, and industry giants such as Dell EMC throwing their weight around too.
NetApp has beefed up its flash offering after buying all-flash specialist SolidFire and claims that it hold the number two spot in the all-flash market.
"We are the fastest-growing flash vendor in this industry," added Richard. "We are growing at 3X the rate of the market. Our revenue run rate is up 385 per cent year over year. In our first quarter of fiscal 2017, our unit growth was 620 per cent. Those are just staggering numbers. They talk to the strength of our portfolio, the coherency of our portfolio, as opposed to a point solution or complete disarray from the competition. Make no mistake - flash is right now the most important technology in this industry. More flash means less CPU, less licences, less footprint, less power. It is changing the world."
In a press Q&A session, responding to CRN's question about where NetApp sees itself in the industry in light of the Dell EMC deal, its executive vice president for products and operations said:
"I would say that flash has taken away most of the reason for being of large storage systems. If you look at [Dell Technologies'] DMX, or a large Hitachi system, most of the 20 years or so of innovation which have gone into those systems was to make sure you can have 1,000 discs in a shelf without them vibrating and causing the entire building to fall. Now, flash neutralises all of that investment in that hardware infrastructure. I would say that the part of the market we can play in with a broad portfolio is all the way from the SMB to the most demanding applications. You can now, because of flash, you can make these cabinets obsolete. All of the hardware infrastructure inside of them is gratuitous."
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