NetApp's EMEA boss Alexander Wallner has claimed that the storage vendor does not view cloud providers as an immediate threat, citing its partnerships with AWS and Microsoft Azure as proof that it is willing to tackle multi-cloud environments.
Launching NetApp's annual EMEA Insight conference in Berlin, Alexander Wallner said that adapting to the cloud has enabled the Sunnyvale-based company to build "more flexibility and elasticity" into its architecture.
"From my perspective we're the only former storage, now data management, provider that decided very early on to lean into the cloud. We never saw the cloud as a threat. We don't perceive [cloud providers] as our enemy, either. Instead, we understood early on that it is beneficial to our customers that we interact with them on the cloud and support them."
In October, NetApp and Microsoft announced that NetApp's enterprise network file system (NFS) is to be available in Azure as a service.
Wallner added that while interest in the cloud "is everywhere", most customers are still in the dark as to which strategy to invest in. As a result, it is important for vendors such as NetApp to keep customer options open when it comes to cloud.
"Most of our customers do not have an idea of how their cloud strategy will evolve over the next three years. Most of them don't know what their applications will look like three years from now. It is absolutely key for customers to decide on a data management plan that is open, which will enable them to develop in whichever direction they need to. Our task as an infrastructure provider is to provide an open architecture," he said.
"We do not talk about hybrid cloud anymore. We talk about multi-cloud environments, because hybrid cloud gives the impression that customers have to choose from only one cloud provider. The reality is that there is nothing that customers fear more than having a vendor lock them into the cloud."
Wallner conceded that the legacy storage and backup player has had to overhaul itself in light of "a very uncertain market".
"When you look at the data market five years ago, life was pretty easy for us. We had a good architecture on storage systems. Now, the transformation we've been through in the last five years has seen the picture change completely," Wallner said.
"Obviously you can still have appliances and a big rack with flash solutions, and object solutions, on-premise in your datacentre - that all still works fantastically. But on the other side, we also have our software completely independent from our hardware - this is really an achievement for us.
"This is the reason we can run our operating systems today on Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure without having our architecture below that."
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