#SFD 9 Preview – NetApp Too Many Shoes?

Too many shoes

My wife has too many bags and far too many shoes. She assures me that she needs this many and that “she needs different shoes for different occasions”. I have two pairs of shoes a posh pair and a scruffy pair and believe she has too many pairs of shoes.



NetApp who will attend Storage Field Day 9 have at the last count 3 different flash SAN’s. Like my wife being adamant she needs a shoe for every occasion, I will be interested to see if NetApp can convince me they need a different SAN for every occasion. This must be confusing for customers and the sales team, plus marketing and development effort is being split 3 ways.  Also is it desirable to have 3 different system types to manage from a single vendor, a key benefits of buying from a single vendor is having a common management tool and a narrower skills set requirement.


Other questions

Many other questions have been asked about NetApp and their strategic position in the market, not least since they soon will be the last large standalone storage company. As discussed in a previous SFD 9 preview post many vendors are aiming to control the datacentre with their hyper-converged offerings. NetApp currently lacks a scalable software-defined offering plus the compute hardware to couple it with to create an appliance.


Rich History

However NetApp has a rich history of innovation and didn’t become what will be the worlds largest storage company post Dell/ EMC and in the fortune 500 by accident. They also haven’t been afraid to go their own way in the past shunning tiering and then flash as a storage medium, at least for a while.

This is possibly the presentation I am looking forward to most since the company at a cross roads but with some exciting new tech on the table. Also the presenters lined up are true NetApp royalty, so make sure you tune into this one.


The future?

The latest addition to NetApp’s portfolio and the potential future jewel in its crown is SolidFire. I have lots to learn about the technology but almost everything I have heard have ever about this system is positive. Purchased at the end of 2015 for $1.2bn it was generally agreed in the community it was a great price. SolidFire is an all flash scale out storage system capable of starting at 20TB and growing to 3.5PB and 7.5M IOPs. Each 1U node has 10SSD’s and data is spread across all nodes. New nodes can be non-disruptively added and removed from the system and SolidFire automatically balances the blocks across all nodes.


I will be really interested to hear about how the portfolio fits together and how they will be maximising their return on the SolidFire acquisition. Will it remain a webscale proposition for the largest customers, or could the technology be applied to smaller businesses and how would this affect its existing portfolio. Of the many shoes that NetApp has will this be the shoe that fits Cindarella style.




Another key issue I will need to get to the bottom of is the SolidFire socks. I will be asking deep and searching questions like:

  • What is the whole sock think about?
  • Will they bringing NetApp socks out now?
  • Can the NetApp and SolidFire socks be combined on the same day? What are the best practices around this?

For the low down on the socks, and a full day with NetApp which promises to be unmissable tune into Storage Field Day 9.


If you are a NetApp fan check out this nice Build Your Own NetApp ONTAP 9 Lab eBook.