Aggressive NetApp has taken a swipe at rival firms on both ends of the spectrum in the storage space, making digs at giant Dell EMC and fledgling flash firm Pure Storage.
The bullish vendor declared at its Insight technical event in Berlin that it was giving the audience the NetApp story "from NetApp", as opposed to from its rivals. Many have positioned NetApp as the last remaining independent storage company since Dell's acquisition of EMC, but NetApp yesterday corrected industry watchers and said, in fact, it is "the first data-management expertise company".
Continuing its theme of positioning NetApp in the competitive landscape, some of the firm's senior EMEA execs today took a swipe at the likes of Dell EMC and Pure Storage.
Speaking at a press roundtable event, NetApp's EMEA boss Alex Wallner said that although he respects Pure and its offering, he finds that customers prefer NetApp.
"Start-up storage providers like Pure or Violin or these guys, the conversation they have is [that they have] the better flash product compared with NetApp. It is simply not interesting anymore and it should not be interesting for customers. You might run 10 proof of concepts and have five Pure wins and five NetApp wins," he said.
"But I always compare a datacentre to my own situation around cars. There is a huge difference between the cars I own and the cars I would love to own. I would love to have at least eight to 10 cars. I have three kids so a seven-seater and a convertible would be fantastic - I could imagine eight or 10 cars. And a Tesla, of course. I have just one single problem: I have one garage. I need to bring all my requirements together into one car because I simply do not have the space.
"This is the same for our customers today. For every single workload they have and for every single challenge they have, there might be a fancy product out there. Ten years ago they would have done proof of concepts [for each one]. But with the customers' need to bring the operation efforts down, that's not the approach any more. You need one vendor who solves 99 per cent of your requirements. You need to run petabytes of data with as few operations people as possible. The last thing a customer needs is an additional flash vendor that might bring a five per cent flash performance, but increases the complexity of the datacentre massively."
Dell EMC drama
Wallner said that at the other end of the market, Dell's massive acquisition of EMC has not had much impact on its business, but claimed he would be lying if he said the vendor did not try to capitalise on some of the uncertainty in the market before the formal union.
Dell EMC unveiled at its own event in October that its new partner programme, called Dell EMC Partner Programme, will come into force in February and will have tiers from Gold (lowest), Platinum, Titanium (top) and then a special, invite-only Titanium Black section.
Thomas Ehrlich, NetApp's EMEA vice president for pathways and operations, did not seem impressed with the new programme.
"The most interesting thing I heard about EMC and its partner programme is that it is all black, which I find interesting, at least. I have read their press release three times and I wasn't able to find any details which said they are going to change a lot. I think in the end, if you look at the market, customers want to consume the stack in an easier way. Technically speaking, every vendor which has the whole stack has an option," he said.
"I don't need to push my customer into the full stack because my main offering is not a full stack. Even if we had a hyperconverged offering, I would not go against Fujitsu; I would not tell the market my storage does not work with HP; I would not tell them it isn't working with Dell servers. That's because our customers are combining us. If you're talking to the partners, what you might see from NetApp is that yes we want to have an option. If an end user wants a hyperconverged stack - who knows, one day we might have one - but that doesn't mean I am going to build a partner programme that is forcing the partner into selling that. I have no pressure whatsoever to sell CPU. If Dell EMC has, you'd better ask them."
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