In the early days of NetApp, I remember one of the key selling points was the short time it took to get our storage systems up and running. Back then, the alternative to Network Attached Storage (NAS) was a Unix server with a bunch of disk. You’d load the OS, add the disks, configure the RAID, build the filesystems, and finally mount and export volumes. This could easily take a couple days. Then along came NetApp and this crazy idea that you could simply pull a NAS appliance out of the box, plug it in, run a few commends, and be up and running in minutes. This turned out to be not-so-crazy after all, and the rest is history.
Along the way, however, things got more complicated. First CIFS was added, then SAN protocols. FlexVols, thin provisioning, deduplication, encryption, and a plethora of other options followed. On one hand, people loved the richness that these new features brought to data storage, but on the other hand the out of box experience was no longer a matter of minutes.
Somewhere along the way, I think we lost sight of the first-time user and we started building systems for our most savvy users. We assumed that everyone knew what a NetApp aggregate was, and that everyone could figure out what their space guarantee and fractional reserve settings should be.
Luckily, this started to change a few years ago. Starting with System Manager, we started to focus back on the first-time user and made it easier to get our systems up and running. I discussed System Manager 2.0 in this blog about a year ago when we introduced our entry-level FAS2240 system, and included this short demo video.
Since then, we’ve rolled out another system for first-time users, the FAS2220. The FAS2220 was announced last June, and its sub-$8,000 list price is attracting a new army of NetApp users. In order to make sure these plebes have a good user experience, we now include in every FAS2220 and FAS2240 box a thumb drive loaded with a new utility aptly called System Setup. This utility brings me back to the days of the original out of box experience that helped make the NetApp filer an overnight success. As you can see in this 4-minute System Setup demo, you simply enter a few inputs and the system is ready to use in minutes.
Just how many minutes? Well that’s a really good question. How long did it take you to set up your FAS2220 or FAS2240 using our new utility? Send me a photo of you and your NetApp system with the details of your user experience. In return, I’ll post the first 5 photos and comments I receive and send you a signed copy of my book Evolution of the Storage Brain along with some cool swag from the NetApp store. I’m looking forward to hearing from you…just send your details to email@example.com
Data Storage Matters,