NetApp held its annual executive partner conference in Seville this year, attended by over 150 partners from over 30 EMEA countries. We've pick out the key takeaways from the two-day event.
1. Going all in on cloud
NetApp is certainly setting its stall out regarding its position in cloud data management. ‘Lead with cloud' was the theme of the conference and speakers took that literally, continuously emphasising that the future of NetApp is dependent on decoupling its hardware from its software.
Attendees were also reminded time and time again that NetApp is the only storage vendor to have partnerships the three largest public cloud providers - AWS, Google and Amazon.
Though it is not turning its back on its traditional business, it was made very clear to partners that they need to get on board with the vendor's cloud offering. Anthony Lye, VP of cloud business at NetApp, showed the assembled crowd figures which indicated that in a survey of six thousand enterprise respondents, 85 per cent are using or are planning to use a multicloud strategy.
"Business outcomes are far more defineable in a public cloud, whether that workload is running on single cloud or multiple clouds or, as often is the case, integrated from a hybrid cloud structure," he emphasised to the audience.
2. Not forgetting on-prem
Along with claiming to lead the pack in flash storage, NetApp has big plans to become a market leader in hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), which it believes will drive a significant chunk of its growth in the coming years.
It claims to have already solved the three biggest challenges facing HCI vendors in today's market, namely flexible scaleability, guaranteed quality of service and cloud connectivity.
"Those are the three things that we have already solved and that's how we feel that we are in a different place to other vendors," Matt Watts, director of technology and strategy, told journalists at a press conference.
"They are looking to catch up and achieve some of those things, whereas we have come in with those three things being a fundamental tenet to what we do."
The vendor's shift to cloud, HCI and flash has been welcomed by partners. Kevin Timms, CEO of EACS, said that he wasn't surprised with the direction NetApp has chosen to go in.
"NetApp has been in the doldrums over the last few years but in the last 12 months we've seen them really come back with real clarity about where they are headed which is encouraging to see and looking at ways they can monetise things for the channel," he told CRN.
However, Timms was doubtful of the vendor's HCI capabilities, and felt that NetApp may struggle to carve out its niche in that sector.
"I think they are late to the market with HCI. It's interesting that they held back and were waiting to see how the first generation went, with Nutanix and Simplivity. I think they're going to struggle a little bit," he said.
"I think they're going to be known as a provider of storage technology. At the moment, you can only put their HCI on top of their storage so I think that's going to be a real challenge for them. We tend to look at the components of that. From our standpoint we want the flexibility for how to do that."
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