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The advent of elastic hybrid cloud storage is reshaping NetApp Inc. from a pure-play storage hardware vendor to a data management specialist.
That was the message NetApp CEO Tom Georgens delivered to business partners and customers during a keynote address last week at the vendor's Insight North America conference in Las Vegas. Georgens said integrated data management tools are growing in importance thanks to the emergence of cloud computing, flash-enabled data centers and software-defined storage.
"We recognize the industry is in transition. Imperatives fall into two categories: balancing risk mitigation, and cost reduction against opportunities for global growth," Georgens told a crowd of approximately 3,000 attendees. "These issues have important implications for storage, but without effective data management, success is going to be hard to find for our customers. That's why we're making a big bet on data management."
He cited the rollout of Cloud Ontap as an example of NetApp's emphasis on data management. Cloud Ontap is a software-only version bundled in its clustered Data Ontap 8.3 operating system. It provides a common set of catalogs and processes for moving data between public clouds and on-premises storage. Cloud Ontap supports NetApp storage and technology from other storage array vendors.
"What if I could start an application in the cloud and move it back on-premises in the sweet spot of its life? Then, once it's proven and mature, put it back in the cloud as it becomes a legacy [application]. That's true application lifecycle management" that Cloud Ontap provides, Georgens said.
Georgens said NetApp has shipped "tens of thousands" of Ontap controllers since the first quarter, a year-over-year jump of 170%. NetApp also posted $3 billion from sales of its FlexPod reference architecture as additional platforms were validated in 2014, including Citrix XenDesktop 7.1, Citrix XenServer 6.2, Microsoft's Private Cloud FastTrack program and VMware vSphere 5.1.
"We certainly see the evolution of alternative approaches to [FlexPod] by our competition," Georgens said, a reference to the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition launched in 2009 by EMC, Cisco Systems and VMware. EMC announced last month it was buying out most of Cisco's share in VCE.
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