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The last time I was in Venice was in 1996. Part of a 6 week InterRail trip around Europe as a student. A few weeks ago I visited again for the first time since for NetApp EMEA Partner Summit 2013. And, I had the privilege of hosting a live version of my blog with a (possibly unique?) distinguished panel of guests from industry heavyweights Cisco, Citrix, Microsoft, Fujitsu, SAP & VMware. We took questions before the event, at the event and live during the session from the 200 attendees. I promised to share the highlights, so here goes…….



The distinguished panel

  • Paul Carr, Cisco – Head of Technology, Partners & ISV’s EMEAR
  • Paulo di Leo, Citrix – Director, Networking Channels EMEA
  • Julian Datta, Microsoft – Channel Development Manager, Microsoft
  • Glenn Fitzgerald, Fujitsu – Chief Technology Officer TPG, UK
  • Giovanni Di Filippo, SAP – Global Vice President, Database & Technology
  • Rory Choudhuri, VMware – Senior Product Marketing Manager, EMEA



The discussion

JR: What is your biggest innovation in the last 12 months?

PC: FlexPod has grown to a $250m EMEA business! Also MDS9700, the first major platform change in 10 years.

PDL: Mobility. Delivering applications from anywhere, to any device with a consistent experience.

JD: We refreshed the whole product set. Surface. Xbox. In the Data Centre, has to be System Center integration with NetApp, 2nd to none.

GF: Integration of Fujitsu and NetApp into major Service Providers, eg. the secure government managed storage service, the only UK government accredited shared service.

GDF: A breakthrough year for SAP HANA. Now more than 1500 customers.

RC: The concept of Software Defined Data Centre & integrated systems like FlexPod. 


JR: Most people seem to agree that Cloud is now real. In fact NetApp CTO Jay Kidd predicted that 30% of all organisations will move at least one workload to ‘the cloud’ in 2013. So, will Amazon Web Services take over the world and put the rest of us out of a job?

GF: A fair question, but the answer is no! Public, open cloud providers are here to stay and have a valid business model, but they don’t cover the range of services customers need by a long way. There are constraints with current public cloud services making them good for some workloads, like Dev & Test, but not others. Their business model stops them offering service level commitments, required by most customers for most services. Thanks to the CIA, the Patriot Act, etc. the other obvious question is security. And finally control. Core apps will stay on private infrastructure if the value they create demands control. In summary, we need understand the opportunity, where services fit and how to manage this transition.

JD: You cannot ignore the conversation because customers are thinking about it. Most customers want a hybrid model with a Private Cloud in their data centre connected to Public services where they make sense.

GF: Customers want to use the public cloud for peak / overflow. Sounds easy to do. It’s not!

PDL: Part of the trend is that people require mobility. They want to be able to access services and data from anywhere. The challenge is bursting. Also performance – controlling that in the public cloud is a challenge, but is now starting to be possible. Needs to be a combination of technologies to achieve hat customers want.

JR: A good example is eBay running SAP HANA on FlexPod.


JR: Can I put ‘Software Defined’ in front of anything and get away with it? – Dishwasher, toothbrush, car, etc. What does it mean?

RC: ‘Software defined’ is definitely an industry trend! But we need to look at what customers are trying to do? In the same way, why is innovation moving towards software? At VMware, we think businesses need to respond more quickly to changing requirements, and so does IT. If they can’t, the business will look elsewhere. The point of ‘software defined’ is to evolve the way we deliver services from the data centre, so that IT can react much more quickly to user demand, so they can be responsive. The term was launched in 2012. It is a term that has caught on across the industry as a result of this change in user expectations.

PC: Agreed. We closed a very large FlexPod deal recently as a result of a customer audit of expenses showing several thousand dollars a month going to Amazon. More secure and more cost effective, and lower risk.

GF: If you think of a toothbrush as bitmap in a 3D printer, it certainly can be software defined......


JR: How big is Big Data? What will the impact of ‘In-memory’ computing solutions like SAP HANA be?

GDF: Think about the data growth we all see, by 2015 8 Zettabytes of information will exist! At SAP we believe it only has value if you can present the right information to the right person. SAP HANA has brought a 12,000% performance increase in organisation’s capability to analyse their core data.

GF: An example, Sainsbury’s, the UK supermarket. They introduced vouchers offering savings against real-time competitor prices. A real-world example of improved business impact and competitive success through the use of big data.


JR: Why is a strong eco-system important for our partners & customers? Can’t they just get everything they need from organisations like HP, along with their printers and expensive ink?

JD: It’s extremely important! Bottom line is that customers want to know how they make their data centres more efficient, automated and to deliver user self-service. Customers need an ecosystem, together with partners to deliver that.


JR: The market for Converged Infrastructure in EMEA is growing 25x faster than individual segments – why is that? Will ‘open ecosystem’ solutions (like FlexPod or vShape) continue to win in this market?

PC: It will no doubt continue. FlexPod, the collaboration between Cisco & NetApp and many others on the panel de-risks the integration, change management and implementation for the customer. They absolutely want more of that. It gives the user the ability to have a much clearer understanding of their infrastructure. We’ve seen systems installed and in full production in 48 hours from delivery.

GF: It’s all about reduction of risk. Fujitsu have similar product with vShape .They key is to take the risk out and add speed, but with change control. The result is a lower cost of operation and higher return on investment. It has to integrate with existing infrastructure.

RC: It all comes back to business value. To offer services as fast as possible. There is massive opportunity here.


JR: One last question, why do you continue to partner so closely with NetApp?

RC: We have invested heavily in integration, we think the same, the route to market is the same, there is a massive opportunity together.

GDF: We believe in the joint collaboration to deliver value to the customer. Customers are asking us to work together – they want best of breed.

GF: We have complementary technologies, there are many cultural similarities. It’s just a good fit.

JD: Customers want us to work together. The integration we have built together is crucial. Customers understand they can provide apps much quicker to their users.

PDL: It is a natural fit with no overlap. The product integration we have is essential.

PC: At our partner summit in Boston, Cisco CEO John Chambers mentioned NetApp a number of times. Cisco want to be the number 1 IT company in the world. NetApp is key to that goal.


A LIVE blog - an interesting experiment

Overall an interesting experiment – challenging to put together (thank you Hamish, Kate & Stephanie) as well as extremely valuable insights. And good fun. Other questions we got included - Where is Michel Fauchet? What is your favourite Spice Girl? Will Cisco buy NetApp?

And since the Partner Summit, there have been a host of significant, and in some cases unexpected announcements in the eco-system. For me validates NetApp’s clear focus on what we’re good at – Data Management & open partnerships to provide customer choice.


Like me, the Data Centre ecosystem has changed beyond recognition in the 17 years since 1996. [And a lot in the 4 weeks since Partner summit]. Wonder what it & I will look like in in 2030?


Venice June 2013.jpgJR ITPad LIVE.jpgGala dinner.jpgJR ITPad LIVE 2.jpgPaul Hargreaves eBay.png


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