NetApp CEO: Data Management is the Future

In Q&A, NetApp CEO looks ahead

Rob Preston of InformationWeek interviewed NetApp CEO Tom Georgens recently, eliciting a wide range of insights into how Georgens sees the storage industry changing — and where NetApp will find competitive advantage.

In the preface to his interview Preston observes how it is both the best of times and the worst of times for the storage industry: data volumes are soaring and storage budgets are growing as well, but the aggregrate growth rate of storage vendors is weak to negative due to the emergence of cheaper technology alternatives and the reluctance of many cash-strapped potential customers to invest while the landscape is in such flux.

Here are some of Georgens’ thoughts, as related by Preston:

“There’s a transition of IT professionals from being effectively owner-operators to figuring out the role of external services, whether it’s software-as-a-service, traditional enterprise services, or hyper-scale services … [and becoming] integrators/brokers.”

“Our view in the end is that NetApp is an integrator of technologies that deliver customer solutions. I view flash, the cloud, disk drives, DRAMs, processor technology, as just things that integrate into a data management schemeā€¦ The more things that are managed by Data ONTAP is money in the bank for us …”

“Over time, the primary differentiator will be integrated systems. I think we need to take a step back on software-defined. Ultimately, what software-defined is is a set of common data services that can manage all the storage in my enterprise. From NetApp’s point of view with ONTAP, we’ve been on that kick all along, long before we called it software-defined. We didn’t build five different products. We built one product. Whether it’s SAN or NAS or backup or archiving or whatever, it’s all managed by Data ONTAP. So the fundamental premise that customers want a single set of data management throughout all different data types — I truly buy that.”

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