Dec 01

Containers Are Coming For All Your Enterprise Apps & NetApp is Ready

Fall has been a whirlwind. I just got finished with my busiest time of year, from Insight Las Vegas in September to OpenStack Summit Barcelona in October and finally Insight Berlin in November. So, I can say that I have spent the last three months traveling the world talking to people about how they are automating their data centers, eliminating their IT ticketing systems, and adopting containers to deploy their applications. 

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Dec 01

This is Pure-ly and simply an ‘about turn’ moment

Imagine my surprise when Pure announced that they will be retro-fitting a new technology into an array with software that wasn’t originally designed for it.

Pure’s marketing message has always been to deride any storage device that was not ‘Built from the ground up’. To claim that something is inferior if it has been retrofitted to support evolving technology.

There are so many ways that this is clearly inaccurate, but that’s for another post.

Now Pure is dealing with the reality of the market place. Technology changes, and a good company is always adapting, adding, and yes even retrofitting new ways to solve real world problems.

This is a Pure post and is likely to upset a few of the ‘Puritans’, but this is NOT an attack on their technology which I’m sure is good at what it does, or it’s people that clearly enjoy working there, I just want to clear up something so that we can take it for what it is, marketing spin and now just move on. That is their definition of a ‘Legacy Vendor’.


As is the norm in the Data Management business, every few years the media changes. We’ve had many types of disk drives over the last 40+ years with still more coming with the rise of SMR and other new formats. We’ve had many different types of SSD as well. From SLC, MLC, TLC and now QLC starting to make its entrance into the market.

At NetApp, we’ve adapted our platforms. We’ve re-written IO paths in the code to optimise them as the media has changed. We’ve demonstrated that, not only can we adapt very successfully, we can do so whilst delivering outstanding performance, functionality and endurance. And yes, we retrofitted our platforms for Flash.

Pure would have you believe that this is somehow a truly terrible thing and means that the technology can never be as good as an array that was….yes you guessed it…’Built from the ground up’.

Pure has announced they are introducing NVMe into their arrays, which is not a surprise from a technical point of view, it’s a logical progression. It’s something we at NetApp introduced into our latest generation of systems that we recently launched as well.

My surprise is Pure’s now inconsistent claim that maybe being ‘Built from the ground up’ isn’t necessarily the best way to support customers. NVMe isn’t a new type of media, it’s a communications and interface protocol which means significant work has to be done to adapt your storage software to be able to use it. Much like the work that we did to optimise and get the best performance when we introduced SSD into our arrays. And Pure has zero experience retrofitting anything.

So to my Puritanical friends, you created a definition of legacy to throw doubt against any technology that wasn’t originally designed to support something new. Well you have just become your own definition of a ‘Legacy Vendor’.

Personally I feel that associating ‘Legacy’ = ‘crappy’ is to dismiss the credibility gained from many years of delivering technology solutions and the massive wealth of experience that this enables you to build up. The challenge that all vendors face is to ensure that they use this experience to make positive steps forward into the future, to design new technologies, new capabilities, even new business models and on occasion make acquisitions of startups such as ours with SolidFire. This ensures that they keep pace with or exceed what the market demands. When you’re the first to deliver something new then of course you can ride the wave, you can claim ‘Built from the ground up’ and dismiss others as legacy in a somewhat derogatory way. But then time passes, your new thing is no longer a new thing and you start to add capabilities to it that it was never originally intended for. This is your about turn moment!


Embrace your legacy, you can no longer use this as a negative against others. Your new challenge is to show how you can continue to enhance your products and solutions to meet the new requirements that they were never really designed for. You now have a whole new challenge and opportunity ahead of you and I can absolutely guarantee that this is going to be difficult.

We should know. We’ve been doing this for a long time now.

Let the mayhem commence

Dec 01

NetApp Insight Berlin 2016 – FlexPod Event Highlights

As we prepare to head home, we first want to take a moment and extend our deepest thanks to all those whose extraordinary efforts made this possible. To those who planned, manned the booth, shared with an audience, built relationships, worked behind the scenes, and everything in-between - thank you. You made this possible.

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Nov 30

Antivirus Protection for NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP

The off-box antivirus feature provides virus-scanning support for the NetApp® clustered Data ONTAP® operating system. In this architecture, virus scanning is performed by external servers that host antivirus software from third-party vendors. The feature offers antivirus functionality that is similar to the functionality available in Data ONTAP operating in 7-Mode. Prior to Ontap 9.0 only On-access scanning was supported by Ontap. Starting from Ontap 9.0, the off-box antivirus feature provides virus-scanning support in two modes...

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Nov 30

The Pace of Change; a note from Glastonbury Festival

15cm of rain, 12cm of mud, 200,000 people, or should I say 200,000 IP Addresses!

There are times in life when I think it’s good to step back and look at the progress that has been made over the last decade or so. Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in the now that we don’t appreciate the pace of change that is always happening incrementally around us. To stop and look back allows you to get a perspective of just how much has changed in a relatively short period of time.

When I consider change I think about it in three ways…

1) the pace of technical change
2) the acceleration of change due to Social and Mobile platforms
3) the acceleration in the pace of life, how quickly we expect stuff to work and respond

glastonbury2016This year I didn’t get tickets for my favourite music festival, Glastonbury. For any of you that are festival fans you’ll know that you go through several stages of disappointment; a short period of mourning, then acceptance that it’s not happening, then for me I started to reminisce about the years that I had been going and how much has changed, probably this is the denial faze where I’m convincing myself I never really wanted to go anyway.

My first Glastonbury was back in 2000, David Bowie was the headline, at that time there was very little technology at the festival, chances were that if you lost your friends on the first day then you might not see them again until you met at the car to make your way home 4 days later. It was great, it was fun, but damn it was basic.

Last year the telco operator EE turned up in force and 4G transmitters were established across the site. A field that for 340 or so days of the year is full of cows and not much else, for one week has one of the best mobile signals and web capability of anywhere in the UK. I’m sure the local farmers love it as they get little to no signal at any other time of the year.

The festival last year also took place at the same time as the ‘Brexit’ vote. In that one evening when the votes were coming in, over 25TB of data passed through the network as everyone was searching for live updates. A great example of the pace of technical change.

During the festival I was sat in one of the many bars on site with my wife waiting for the next act that we wanted to go and see. I looked across the field and on a bench on the other side were 4 girls, probably in their mid teens and all of them had their mobile phones out and were rapidly tapping away into whichever social app was their choice. At one point I was convinced that as this had been going on for so long, that they must be chatting to each other through the app as it was somehow easier than verbal communication. After about an hour of this, one of them stopped and looked at her phone in disgust, I assume whichever app she was using hadn’t responded quickly enough, or the Snapchat hadn’t loaded. I was so tempted to walk over, and in the words of Louis CK say…’Give it a second, it’s going to space!’. Many of us now simply expect to be able to access social tools or mobile applications wherever we are and we expect them to be fast, damn fast.

Yes this is just a music festival, so maybe you can dismiss this to some degree as not a reflection of how our companies must adapt to this new world, but I personally think this is a good way to consider how we MUST change for the new world. Your customers often don’t want to talk to you they want to connect to you through technology platforms, they want an immediate response and if they don’t get it then they’ll go somewhere else. Amazon recently calculated that a page load slow down of just 100ms could lose them 1% in sales! Yes we really are that impatient.

timeI would recommend that as you consider your next technology investment, it’s worth considering it in terms of Time. Does this investment make things faster for people, does it help to provide a faster response or better experience to our customers. But just as importantly, does this give me back time so that I can focus on the things that drive value. This maybe the new social or mobile platforms or the next generation analytical systems that drive the experience for your customers.

If you can invest in technology that gives you back time then you can invest that time into the opportunities that can create value, it’s a virtuous circle that will never stop.

If you have any examples where you’ve noticed this extreme change in the pace of technology, social media interaction or the pace of life in general? I’d love to hear about them.

As for Glastonbury, next year is a fallow year but I guess there’s always year after

Nov 29

CBC Boosts Operational Efficiency with Pixit Media and NetApp

As I was having dinner with a partner and two members of our joint customer, it hit me that a real change had taken root in the broadcast media industry.  The two broadcast engineers across the table from me did not lecture me about the requirements of media workflows being unaddressable by IT infrastructures. There was no sustained bandwidth this and dropped frames that. The dinner was entirely cordial as we discussed the long-term challenges of their broadcast graphics and production needs.

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Nov 23

Insight 2016 Berlin: How Two Companies Modernized Their NetApp Infrastructure

Thousands of NetApp customers and partners attended the annual Insight technical conference Berlin in November, which provided an opportunity for sharing success stories and lessons learned. Here’s a quick recap of two customer-led presentations that covered topics relevant to many NetApp customers: the transition from Data ONTAP 7-Mode to a clustered configuration running ONTAP, and the deployment of new All Flash FAS (AFF) solutions.

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Nov 23

OpenStack Barcelona – Good News for Enterprises

I got back from the OpenStack summit in Barcelona not long ago. It was an impressive event, which showcased the new features of OpenStack’s 14’th release ‘Newton’. One of the keynote topics was ‘OpenStack Multi Cloud’, which offers a way to handle the scalability and interoperability of different OpenStack clouds for different regions, datacenters and even different OpenStack distributions. One remark - enabling applications to move or relocate from one cloud to another is a challenge NetApp is addressing with its Data Fabric vision for quite some time, not only within OpenStack clouds but even in a hybrid cloud model.

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Nov 17

Why Companies Choose SolidFire (and ONTAP) for Their Cloud Services

The annual Insight conference is a place where NetApp customers, partners, and technical experts gather to share their data management expertise and experiences. This year, I had the opportunity to attend two of the customer-led sessions that focused on the design and management of new cloud services. One presenter discussed why his company chose SolidFire as the foundation for its IaaS business while the other shared why ONTAP was the best fit for his company’s SaaS products. Each session emphasized the importance of standardization, automation, and storage efficiency. In addition, the presentations highlighted how NetApp customers benefit by having access to more than one all-flash solution.


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