No trimming of NetApp flash offerings after acquisition

AcquisitionsStorage
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Things staying as they are as storage player becomes ‘number two’ in sales rankings

At this week’s NetApp Insight conference in Berlin, the vendor trumpeted its claimed market progress in the flash market, some of it down to acquiring all-flash player SolidFire last year.

NetApp will announce its latest quarterly financial figures soon, but it used the Insight conference to tell the 3,500 delegates that the company had crept up to number two in the flash market by sales – still well behind Dell EMC but now ahead of HPE, going by sales up to the first half of 2016.

With both SolidFire and NetApp having their own flash lines though, some may be thinking there could be room for consolidation to ease channel marketing. But NetApp founder Dave Hitz was having none of it in a press Q&A at the event.

NetApp Insight Berlin 2016Hitz said: “Branding may become an issue going forward in specific areas, but the various lines are so different by addressing different needs there is no reason to consolidate or axe any products.”

Along with Hitz, SolidFire founder Dave Wright was also in attendance. He said: “Some may ask this question but what may be more important is the channel becoming slightly better at explaining to customers what system they need for their requirements.”

The two Daves had already discussed at the Q&A the two sets of products’ different software management systems, and that a number of organisations may well be keen to continue to use a variety of different storage systems.

Any suggestion that SolidFire’s current location in Boulder, Colorado could act as an inhibitor to growth was also rubbished by Dave Wright, following suggestions in the recent past that it was too far from Silicon Valley, and a long way from a traditional US data storage development hub out east.

Wright said: “I don’t know where this comes from, our location is actually an advantage, as engineers are keen to move to Boulder and we don’t have to compete for talent in California.”

While flash storage, just like at last year’s event, was a key theme at the conference, NetApp was keen to emphasise its commitment to a “software-defined storage strategy” – basically saying it isn’t simply a company that shifts lumps of metal.

NetApp wants to be in a solid market space where it can support more companies moving to the hybrid cloud with its storage information management software – including ONTAP 9 – and support
service providers offering storage-as-a-service to organisations.

Thomas Ehrlich, NetApp vice president of pathways and operations EMEA, said: “We are ready to support this strategy but not ready to fully execute it, as the market has not fully reached the hype of the cloud.”

While organisations are increasingly moving various workloads into the cloud, Ehrlich is mindful that many of them still want a guy to deliver and deploy a whole system with both hardware and software – hopefully from NetApp as far as he’s concerned.

@AntonySavvas