NetApp's Past and Future - Page 3

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Our largest customer is Yahoo. Everything you see on Yahoo is coming off a NetApp storage system. The mail, the GeoCities stuff, the calendar, everything. You want a mission-critical environment? Yahoo Mail. When was the last time Yahoo Mail was not available? That would be a headline you'd cover.

Financial services is really big for us. Its about neck and neck now with tech. It's mostly broker-dealer: Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup ... and right behind that is the federal government. Our U.S. federal business has just been on fire. Its been one of our fastest-growing components. It's now well over 10 percent of our total business.

What would be your message be to a SMB who was trying to decide between buying, say NetApp, and HP to redo a data center?

HP? Well, that's no contest. Let me take this from a different perspective. I think that the customer community is moving to a place where they think about the storage infrastructure as very different than servers or whatever. I view the transition as similar to the transition they went through in the networking world, where there used to be application-specific networks like IBM-SNA for transactions, TechNet for engineering, NovellNet and NetWare for office functions.

As they looked at their operations, they said, "I've got to put all those together for purposes of economy and efficiency." And now customers think about networks as a very independent component of the infrastructure. They're getting to that same place with data management and storage.

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Read here about Sun's second set of countersuits against NetApps.

Now, they still buy it in an application-specific sense: I'm going to upgrade my Oracle environment, I need new servers, I need new storage. I need to upgrade my Exchange environment, I need new servers, I need new storage. I need to do server virtualization, I've got to rethink my storage infrastructure. They think about [storage] still as an extension of whatever is going on the server side.

Step one of this analysis is: Look for a solution where you get the maximum amount of value-add in your storage infrastructure to support your application environment. So we've invested heavily in integration with [Microsoft] Exchange, SQL Server, Oracle, SAP, VMware, and we actually integrate the services in the storage infrastructure with what you're trying to achieve on the application side.

Step two, then, is to think about where your highest leverage points are in terms of getting the maximum from your asset, the best [return on investment], and maximum efficiency of your management staff. Storage is growing in most enterprises at 50 to 80 percent per year, and the amount of manpower is going up at the rate of zero. This is an area where you need to get 50 percent productivity improvement every year. How are you going to do that?

Consolidation is where it starts. Virtualization, deduplication, thin-provisioning-this is how we start getting more productive. We just sold our 1,000th deduplication license the other day.

Page 4: NetApp's Past and Future

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...