The trend of migrating to hybrid cloud along with a laser focus on data's increasingly central role will only accelerate in the coming years, and while the shift hasn't been easy for channel partners or customers, both understand its inevitability and are embracing the changes it's bringing, according to NetApp officials.
At the data storage vendor's annual Insight conference In Las Vegas, Nevada this week, the message for partners is customers need to leverage the data they are generating and make the move to hybrid cloud, and that it's the job of both NetApp and the channel to help them get there, according to Brett Roscoe, NetApp's VP of product, solutions and services marketing.
Indeed, the emphasis on data and the cloud is at the core of several announcements the vendor is making during the event.
"We're moving from a world of traditional IT to one focused on software and cloud," Roscoe said during a press conference at Insight.
During his keynote, CEO George Kurian described it as a move away from business processes and toward data, noting that "data is the lifeblood of a digital organisation".
Roscoe said NetApp relies heavily on channel partners in working with customers and that it is working in lockstep that it and its partners will be able to best serve end users.
"We're on the same mission as our partners… to help bring customers to the cloud," he said. "That's the direction we're moving. And most of our partners understand that and they know that customers understand that and want to go in that direction."
He also noted that it's not an easy transformation for partners to make. Most have grown up selling hardware, getting the money and moving to the next deal. Now, they have to adjust not only to selling more software and services, but also to adapt to an annual recurring revenue model in which they might not get the instant gratification of upfront costs but will find they can make more money by selling technology through a subscription model, he pointed out.
During the show, NetApp announced that it was expanding its partnership with Microsoft, with the software vendor leveraging NetApp's enterprise network file system (NFS) in its Azure cloud.
In addition, company officials announced deeper integrations with Azure and NetApp's Cloud Control for Microsoft Office 365 and NetApp AltaVault.
In June, the two companies announced they are bringing greater integration of NetApp's Data Fabric offerings with the Azure public cloud. New hybrid cloud data services would be built on NetApp's OnTap data management software as another step in helping customers move to the cloud.
The announcements at Insight push that collaboration farther, Roscoe said. NFS capabilities were already available through the cloud as Software-as-a-Service, but this week it was announced NFS technology is now available natively in Azure through the Azure console. NetApp says this gives enterprises that may not have used NFS in the past an easy way to adopt it for their hybrid and public cloud ambitions.
The vendors also announced that NetApp's Cloud Control for Microsoft Office 365 and its AltaVault cloud storage technology now supports Azure Storage.
In addition, NetApp unveiled a virtual support assistant driven by artificial intelligence that officials says will answer support questions four times faster than other methods. NetApp had been using Elio internally.
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