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NetApp sets its sights on cloud data management: A Q&A with CEO Tom Georgens

John Dix | July 22, 2014
NetApp's CEO provides his take on the changes in the cloud computing world

NetApp wants to manage data whether it's on our equipment or not, and whether it's on-premises or not. We want to be the enterprise data-management standard across the enterprise. We don't make disk drives. We're not Seagate. We basically make software that makes disk drives reliable, high performance and easy to manage. And if we viewed Amazon and some of these services as basically the new disk drives, we can manage those as well and enable customers to operationalize the cloud.

We have no desire to emulate the cloud. We have no desire to offer an undifferentiated cloud service. Our view is the cloud is not a target, the enterprise customer is the target and the cloud is a tool that is available to them.

NW: Do you need to partner with cloud providers to do that?

TG: Actually there are some clever things we're doing that are unique and make the cloud providers want to partner with us. I mentioned the cloud enabling you to spin up 500 servers for a short period of time and then spin them down, but once you move data there it costs you money to pull it out, it costs you money to access it. So we have this collaboration with Amazon that we call NetApp Private Storage for Amazon that allows you to keep the data on your network and connect through a high-bandwidth pipe to their compute farm. So you keep the data under your control, under your tools, with all of your security, but still have access to the elastic compute.

We see people using that for everything from test and development to backup. Disaster recovery is another interesting application. You keep replicating data and if there is a disaster you spin up all the servers and networking.

Customers see value in the cloud, but they don't want to have to use a separate set of tools, a separate set of processes, and they're having a tough time operationalizing it. We want to come in and say, "If you standardize on NetApp data management we will seamlessly integrate the cloud for you and it will make the cloud look like it's actually part of your own infrastructure."

NW: Do your customers typically refer to their internal systems as private clouds?

TG: The vast majority of enterprise deployments would be described as private clouds. If you go back to the server virtualization revolution of five years ago, the original premise was, I have all these servers running individual apps and they're all grossly underutilized. So, if I can encapsulate those apps and run multiple apps simultaneously on servers, I can drive up utilization rates, lower my server footprint, and the economics are compelling. And that's all true.

 

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