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back to article Kissane to mould NetApp: Time to turn off the tap on ONTAP

NetApp has sharpened its focus on corporate strategy by moving incumbent product strategist Jay Kidd to a chief technology officer role and recruiting Jonathan Kissane from CA to a new chief strategy officer role. Kidd, previously SVP for product strategy and development at the storage firm, and an ex-CTO at Brocade, now reports …

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Anonymous Coward

v

Strategist from CA, the company that turned itself around and is now the shining star of...erm....well....uhhh.

I work in IT. I'm forever having to tell non-IT people who my company is, what they do, etc. CA is the only company where even IT people have to ask 'so what is it you do??' I look at their website and I can't tell if i'm looking at CA or Accenture.

I have no idea what they sell (apart from Arcserve...I would sacrifice my firstborn to never touch it again) or how they keep afloat but if I were looking for a chief strategist i'd do what Yahoo did. Find a mover and a shaker from a company that has been doing a lot of moving and shaking to really spice things up.

Netapp should be poaching high from VMware, Intel, EMC, Cisco, HP, IBM, Oracle. Companies that have acquired on scale, that have a history or strategy and successful acquisition. Look at what happened when HP poached Donatelli - over three years HP went from 'EVA HAR HAR' (Simpson's Nelson) to being a completely different beast with a wide portfolio.

If the ONTAP era really is coming to a close (as the article speculates) it's no wonder Netapp's survival is in the hope of being acquired and filling in a gap in a bigger companies portfolio. They don't have the cash to acquire what they need, they have trouble making acquisitions successful, internal developments are focused on using ONTAP in various flavours and they don't really do anything else well.

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Bronze badge

"no disk-to-disk backup system"

SnapVault and Open Systems SnapVault?

As for VTL? Clunky and a bit old fashioned - backup to image on disk is more than sufficient for most needs.

The strength of ONTAP is that it isn't a disjointed kludge of components pretending to be a 'unified storage' solution (EMC, I'm looking a you) - it genuinely is unified. I agree that NetApp needs to broaden there horizons, but go to far and you end up master of none.

What NetApp need to do is sort out the software stack surrounding NetApp storage. Snapdrive is fine (but could do wth a built in scheduler), but the SnapManager suite is very disjointed, inconsistent and, at times, flakey. As for management, it's also a bit of a disaster at the moment, with the OnCommand suite badly in need of a decent GUI designer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "no disk-to-disk backup system"

"The strength of ONTAP is that it isn't a disjointed kludge of components pretending to be a 'unified storage' solution"

Spoken like someone who hasn't tried to implement Fibre Channel storage on a NetApp. I'm willing to believe that the VNX is a Clariion with a VNX bolted on top, but FC in Data OnTAP is truly a wretched thing, a hideous misshapen chimeric hybrid of file and block storage. Performance is poor, manageability is awful, and observing how LUNs are created as virtual files inside a WAFL volume makes you realize what a hack it really is. The fact that it's "integrated" into OnTAP is not actually a defense, especially since EMC's approach of "file on block" makes much more sense than NetApp's "block on file on block" approach.

I won't claim to know what NetApp needs to do, but I can identify some serious weaknesses in their current approach:

1) Their solution to unified storage is a hack.

2) Their support for non-core technologies (anything besides core elements of Data OnTAP) is wretched.

3) The product is difficult to manage by comparison with virtually any other competing product.

4) They're behind the curve with hybrid storage.

The main advantage they have is that the technology is very cool, arguably superior to anything on the market when it comes to file storage. Unfortunately, that advantage is being eroded by EMC's ability to integrate on the one hand and on smaller competitors' ability to produce cheaper, faster, simpler products on the other. They'll soon find themselves in a niche and, from there, a vice.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "no disk-to-disk backup system"

Sigh . . . should be "the VNX is a Clariion with a *Celerra* bolted on top."

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Anonymous Coward

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Snapvault *shivers*.

I think what the article means is that by today’s standards (dedup appliances) Netapp has nothing. They tried but…well….didn’t work out. I don’t know anyone who isn’t looking or currently has deduplication appliances. It has snowballed and is turning into a standard. Tape is still big, people still want a tape somewhere in the cycle.

I agree with EMC not being unified, it’s not and I used to pick holes in it. It’s marketing.…but then again so is calling Snapvault a backup solution. The whole unified thing used to be a hot topic…back in 2005. I realised these days that no one cares. Now 'Truly Truly Truly Unified' is a single bullet point on page 15 of a powerpoint deck and the SE always hopes someone will say 'what do you mean?' So they can jump into a diatribe about what truly unified means.

What Netapp NEEDS to do is ignore ONTAP. Polishing up a few GUIs and a bit of the software is going to do nothing for their future. The mid-range has become a savage place and Netapp is slowly declining. They have nothing to be ashamed of, they have a good product and they are still winning but fresh revenue needs to come from elsewhere.

So what DO they need to do? Expand beyond ONTAP. Sure, Engenio helped by now I look at it and think they should have gone for some of these hot cache startups that are hurting all the major players.

Get a decent SSD stragety. Everything is ‘blueprints’ and ‘in the future’ Move NOW!!

Get deduplication appliances & a real backup strategy.

Stop partnering with everyone under the sun and focus on a few key partners.

I could go on and on.

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FAIL

CA? I forgot they were even in business. Maybe they could pilfer the former CEO's of RIM while they are at it and really seal their fate. At this point who would even want to buy Netapp? Sure they have a chunk of the storage business, but as a company that continues to fail at innovation, or even improve upon the product lines they have, what would they have to offer a potential suitor other than customer base?

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Aren't CTOs at NetApp like VPs at banks?

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Unhappy

Heck with ONTAP, fix the support organization

The horrid level of support is what turned us off of NetApp, they need to focus inward and get their support organization bulked up. First level are complete idiots, I've gotten people sending me a link to the same document that I opened the case with. Call back days later, incompetent support staff, it takes an act of god to get up to people who actually know something. After having them continuously in our datacenter for close to 10 years; we have since moved away from NetApp not because the competitors tech was really better but that the competition was good enough for our needs. Throw in that the sales & support organization blew them out of the water completely and making their technology value moot.

NetApp needs to focus inward, they need to fix their internal structures and reinvest dollars there, do that and the tech will win deals; continue down their current path and the competition's good enough NAS will win accounts.

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J.T

They acquired a company acquisitions person FROM CA?????

Ok, first CA has a lot of successful Mainframe products that they bought from other companies. In addition, the name CA used to be synonymous with "pyramid scheme" as they bought software companies and sold them off peicemail (sp?).

So from a let's get someone who can buy companies, which has been sort of an issue for them of late, they found a someone from a company that can buy companies.

But this isn't a company that was good at integration. They were good at making a buck at the expense of butchering another company. How long did that spinnaker integration take? How's sales of Decru units? Is this the week the sales guy is trying to sell you Engenio so suddenly multiple product/code lines are bad?

NetApp needs help finding companies that compliment Ontap, embrace the waffles, and mainly help with VDI stuff, because outside of VDI NetApp's getting their butt handed to them these days.

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