We just shipped an Exabyte of deduped storage systems - primary storage systems. You write that number down and it seems like such a huge number: 1000 petabytes. You say it out loud and I guarantee you start to reflect on when 1TB used to mean something. When I first started at NetApp (Network Appliance at the time), our biggest system shipped with 1.5TB of raw storage. Heck, I think today I can pick that up as a keychain fob on my way out of Best Buy (right next to the Chapstick underneath the giftcards). I can imagine in a few years time that we'll probably look back on an exabyte as barely enough to hold our favorite holographic movies.
I'm thinking about that huge number; how the industry has changed and how NetApp has changed over the past 10 years. Think about it. When I joined NetApp in 1999, we were selling a single-purpose NAS device. Investors didn't believe there was such a thing as a NAS market; Oracle was telling people to run screaming in the other direction; Microsoft hated us; and our best sales pitch was telling customers that SAN was a mistake. On the positive side, our competitors mainly ignored us. It seems like we succeeded in spite of ourselves. Why?
Today, we sell the industry's first (and I would still argue only) unified storage system that can provision storage for NAS, SAN, FCoE, iSCSI and Compliance. We have added to our storage efficiency strategy with new bells and whistles: dedupe, thinprovisioning, cloning, RAID-6, Flash as Cache. Oracle has personally deployed over 18PB; Microsoft named us storage partner of the year and we can actually start conversations with “Yes, but…” and offer up newideas and solutions. Plenty of reasons to buy NetApp and the market reflects that.
Here's the thing: 10 years ago + not a lot of reasons to buy NetApp = explosive growth. Today + big reasons to buy NetApp = explosive growth. Why? I fundamentally don't believe there is a big difference between the two eras. People buy NetApp today precisely for the same reasons they bought NetApp 10 years ago: it's good for their business. We're either making them money or saving them money.
It's all about helping customers execute their business plans. You do that, and you can fight through conventional wisdom and sell NAS appliances to database users. You do that and you can show companies how dedupe makes sense on primary storage. It's not about how the technology works; it's not about whether you can check the box. It's all about helping your customers execute their business plans more effectively with you than without you. Coming out of a recession, storage efficiency will be all about business enablement. (You can hear more about that in this interview).
NetApp has started a new fiscal year and execution will be our differentiation...but that really hasn't changed since 1992.