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back to article Here's a free tip, Cisco: DON'T buy NetApp unless you're crazy

Hungry Cisco may gobble Citrix, NetApp and Rackspace, according to Bloomberg. But why on Earth would Cisco buy NetApp? We'll tell you why that's a crazy idea. Bloomberg quotes Thrivent Financial’s analyst Peter Karazeris, who said: "Financially, it’s a good transaction. Strategically, it’s not crazy. [NetApp] does fit.” Thrivent …

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Maybe Cisco should buy or merge with EMC instead?

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Gold badge

No

Just no.

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Stop

Please, leave Rackspace alone, keep your hands off, Cisco...

...seriously, being the next hop is fine but I don't want you be anywhere near my servers.

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Stop

Rackspace and Citrix....?

So you can kill one of the best hosting companies and one of the great remote access/vdi/hypervisor companies all at once?

Seriously, Rackspace is just wonderful as they are, and Citrix is really starting to become exciting again in their own right.

The only positive thing I could begin to think of about this room is "at least it's not Oracle".

Cisco should learn to be competitive again in their core competency. Seriously, these days Cisco is #3 or 4 on my switching provider list and # 5 or 6 on my WLAN provider list. About the only place I look at them seriously is in core routing, but even there I am now trending further rather than closer.

Get me excited about your products again. Make them excellent at a manageable price point. Wrap them in straight-forward services which are both comprehensive and fair.

Do all that and then maybe we could talk about new additions to your company.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rackspace and Citrix....?

Out of interest, what is your preference list for switching and WLAN?

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Unhappy

Re: Rackspace and Citrix....?

Citrix is a neat idea, but their license management makes vm-"we've changed our model again"-ware seem downright friendly. Then there "support" number leads to a IVR so hostile it makes me long for a Microsoft license audit.

The only thing about Citrix I find exciting is I've managed to pawn if off on some other poor sod.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rackspace and Citrix....?

"Make them excellent at a manageable price point."

There is no incentive for Cisco to work on networking. They know that their loyal CCNA army is going to buy whatever they put out. When you have monopoly level market share, there is no incentive to spend tons of cash to gain an extra 2% market share from Juniper. You already have the market. Any new investment is just wasted money that is not needed to make the sale to the majority of the market. It is, financially, beneficial for them to focus elsewhere.

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Cisco should buy Nutanix and develop that platform for both VMware and Hyper-V.

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Anonymous Coward

Perhaps Cisco is just following Orders

And doing exactly what Uncle Larry is telling them to do....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Perhaps Cisco is just following Orders

I doubt they take orders from Larry. Cisco is a little larger than Oracle... and they compete.

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Bronze badge

Probably not NetApp

With all the exciting small storage companies out there I'd look hard at the likes of Nimble. They're even painted to match the UCS servers already.

Nutanix is a cool product but I don't think Cisco would care much about the server side of their offering.

Can't help but think NetApp might be a bit hard to digest.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Probably not NetApp

Agree, NetApp seems to be on the way down, whereas Nimble reminds me of NetApp several years ago. All the rage in the VMware world these days. The only problem with Nimble, at this point, is that it is iSCSI and skewed towards the lower end of the market. Cisco wants to do their proprietary FoE and they want the high end space. They could probably develop Nimble, but I doubt they are going to start WWIII with EMC if they can't compete at the high end in short order as EMC is sure to respond. It is, and has been, an EMC, IBM and HDS race. EMC and IBM are obviously too costly. As HDS has been the marginalized third wheel of that three way race and Hitachi would probably like to have the cash, I wouldn't be surprised to see Cisco go after HDS. HDS is not the hot new thing, but it would probably give them more bang for their buck. Definitely a wider product portfolio than NetApp or Nimble.

I think Cisco is looking at their own hypervisors because VMware, i.e. EMC, just purchased Nicira which could mean real problems for Cisco's networking business if they add network virtualization to VSphere. VMware with Nicira is a much larger threat to Cisco's networking than Juniper, HP, Brocade ever have been or will be.

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WTF?

Cloud Storage?

The trouble with your argument about companies turning to Cloud Storage...

The clue is in the name - STORAGE

Somebody somewhere still needs to buy and install it. Just because you buy space from a cloud doesn't mean there aren't disks spinning somewhere. In theory because cloud is buying a portion of shared you split the costs, a single company may only have installed a single array, whereas the cloud provider will need a minimum of two, and more like three or four arrays to provide continuity of service.

Swings and roundabouts for the array vendors - and probably more cost effective to service a few large cloud data centres than hundreds of smaller customers.

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WTF!

"That aside, Cisco needs major acquisitions to kickstart its annual growth which has been languishing at eight per cent for two years"

So whats so bad about growing around 4% a year? their a massive multinational company.

Just because x company grows 1200% doesn't mean its comparable to 4% growth from another company.

that 4% could be $500million in revenue.

where 1200% could be $5000

Its this never ending hunt to grow 10-20% each year even when the market is saturated that it causing the economy to crash.

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Facepalm

Re: WTF!

I saw that and WTF'ed too. Seems to me they still have massive growth. Even if you're not growing if you're making decent profits who cares?

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NetApp was interesting a while ago. But these days I suspect large deployments use LUNs over FC or iSCSI and not CIFS or NFS. And there NetApp has a problem. Their LUNs are basically huge files that live ON TOP of their WAFL file system. If you do the maths when sizing a NetApp deployment, even if you do NOTHING other than LUNs, you lose a chunk of disk to WAFL overhead.

I also think NetApp isn't nimble enough to compete with new(er) players like 3PAR in the large SAN market, and there is a significant tax for NetApp products due to their age. Yes, its a proven product, but it's becoming clear that ONTAP is long in the tooth and I think is causing issues when they try and introduce new features or functionality.

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Anonymous Coward

Agree, the WAFL issue is well known. It isn't a SAN, it is SAN emulation in a file system. The 4k blocks are also a problem. No one does that anymore. Other providers are using much more granular, like 1k, blocks to maximize the cache hit rate. Dedupe is alright, but that is also a game that has been played. As IBM, in V7000, correctly recognizes, real time compression offers a much better bang for the buck and it much more applicable across a variety of workloads... also much less disruptive so it can be used in line without substantial performance penalties.

The 3PAR comment may have been true prior to a few years ago, but I am not sure if I would call HP "nimble."

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Anonymous Coward

we just migrated from a emc clariion to a netapp toaster active/passive cluster (low range, fas 2240 I think, not at work so I cannot check it) and I can tell you this:

you will pry the netapp cluster from my dead fingers. Huge difference in management. No more fiber channel for me :-), good riddance stupid old technology with its stupid namespace.

Managing a NAS is way simpler. You need a 'normal' switch which you can manage without specific SAN training (it is 10Gb ethernet, but the technology is the same we all know from networking: etherchannels, vlans, simplicity at last).

And then a nice cli on the netapp combined with a nice gui. Compared to the horrendeous navicli and the horror that navisphere was, god I'm happy.

Brilliant cifs server (bye bye windows file servers, not nice meeting you), superb NFS server of course. Snapshots are a godsend. Integrated backups! Simple restores!

So people, what are you all moaning about? In NL at least huge number of companies are dumping {enter your favourite SAN vendor name} for netapp toasters, I know this for a fact.

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Anonymous Coward

Moan?

Once you realize that you will have to manage your application consistent snapshot creations on each and every server, then you start moaning.

Once you realize that performance suffers when WAFL-system approaches 75-80% full, then you start moaning.

Once you realize, having added disks, that you need a controller upgrade to run your increasing workload, then you start moaning. Because you will have to buy all the software all over again.

Once you realize, wanting to create an off-site copy, how slow and time-consuming a NDMP-dump to tape is, you will start moaning. Or buy a 2nd box to replicate to, because you do not have all the time in the world. Then your accountant will start moaning.

But hey, if your workload fits in a 2240. And will still do so in a couple of years. And you do not have all that many applications to manage being backed up, You will be happy enough. Then you're the perfect customer for a NetApp box.

Grow significantly, however, and you *WILL* start moaning. Every other significantly growing NetApp customer does.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Moan?

Snapvault takes care of all the consistent backups. Amazing how many different agents you can get (exchange, sql server, oracle, mysql, posgtresql, you name it, they got it). So far, so good.

if your volumes are near 80% -> buy more shelves. Did you forget that in your business plan?

We have 2 datacenters and snapvault. No tapes. Replication is *very* fast and efficient.

We have 2 active/passive clusters in different datacenters (prod/backup). The same setup was asked for EMC (vnx line) and IBM (storwize). Netapp was the cheapest by far. So maybe they are not so bad after all.

I understand the problems netapp has. Other solutions have problems as well. Do not get me started about the clariion ...

The same problem about growing loads applies to any other storage vendor, not only netapp.

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Anonymous Coward

"we just migrated from a emc clariion to a netapp toaster active/passive cluster (low range, fas 2240 I think, not at work so I cannot check it) and I can tell you this:"

Well, anything is going to be a step up from Clariion.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Moan?

Sure, you can get many different agents.

The catch is:

You have to manage and schedule you Exchange backups on your Exchange server. And yes, you have to perform your restores on the Exchange server as well.

You have to manage and schedule you SQL backups on your SQL server. And yes, you have to perform your restores on the SQL server as well.

etc. etc. etc.

And unless all your servers are virtualized, NetApp only offers SnapManager for Open Systems to do your system-backups. This is a painstakingly slow process involving snapshot-like overhead on the servers during normal operation - and is a complete an utter nightmare in a DR-scenario. If you decided to get rid of your traditional backup-software to build a compelling business case for the NetApps incl. the software mentioned, you better not have physical servers....

Still, if you are a small customer. If you have just a couple of application servers needing application-consistent backups and hopefully virtualized all your servers. You will do fine.

If you are bigger than that. Or growing to become. I bet you will start moaning too.

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J.T

Cisco is downright pissed at EMC and VMWare for the Nicira purchase, enought that they are thinking of ending the EMC relationship and leverage UCS' sales with another storage vendor and virtualization platform.

Citrix and NetApp bring replacements for both those. It's not a great replacement at either level, and Cisco has to be wary of what happened with both Dell and Data Domain with regards to EMC.

Citrix has great penetration into VDI. At that level storage is interchangable. NetApp has a wide range of platforms, but Cisco has to be aware of the issues with NetApp engineering being slow on software and useless on hardware.

A costly set of companies is not financially smart for a company finally starting to show progress after the disaster of home based products and failure to innovate on the networking side more than competitors. The sale of linksys will bring some cash, but Cisco still needs to revitalize it's networking component which means money.

But the bottom line is, all of the companies seem to be preparing for the end of the EMC Cisco relationship, and with one of the two rock solid with the other on shaky grounds it doesn't bode well for Cisco to end the relationship. Klayko over at Brocade would welcome the chance to step down with a resurgance of orders from EMC though.

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Anonymous Coward

Storageologist

Lots of great comments here. NetApp is a 20 year old architecture that it is hard to innovate on top of but so are most of the other big storage vendors. NetApp did do a lot right and one thing that is still key for them is that they are unified. I agree that block behind file is not the route to go but consolidation to eliminate silos and stranded storage is effective when done well. There is a new wind blowing through storage and Starboard Storage who I work for is a good example of a vendor riding the wave. We have a Block based system that also does NAS in a single Storage OS that is our IP. Enterprise feature set, solid state caching, dynamic storage pool that is truly virtualized for all workloads.

Storage simply costs too much and consumes too high a percentage of the IT Budget. With new architectures you can get the performance and cost of capacity you need affordably and with virtualization you get both performance and capacity on demand..

I also agree with comments on deduplication vs. compression. Brute force hardware (larger disks effectively managed) and compression, cover more applications with less headaches.

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