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by Bill Hoganclustered picture.bmp


Just this weekend, I was chatting with my son Liam. He’s a sophomore in high school, so while college is still a few years away it’s never too soon to start the discussion about what it takes to get where he wants to be in school. It’s another year before applications will come due, but being prepared is something Liam has control over today and in the few minutes I could grab between basketball, homework, and the inevitable socializing, I took the time to stress how important each moment forward will be for his future.


What spurred the conversation were the PSAT scores that came in this week. We were proud of his results, but realistically, while excited to see what Liam is capable of, there are still a few hurdles to go between high school and the college of his dreams.


When I asked Liam where he hoped to go to school, the big college names rolled off his lips. And honestly, it’s not out of reach for him, which makes his mother and me very happy, but work and commitment will only have to grow to stay on track to his dream school. I know all too well how easy it is to sit back and relax when success seems imminent, but Liam’s grades and test scores do leave some room for improvement, so hard work remains key to his academic journey. Losing focus is not an option, as in much of life it never is if you expect to achieve, much less exceed your goals. Liam doesn’t quite get it yet, but in the next few years it will surely become more apparent to him. It’s always possible to work harder, do more, and get better, whether in life, sports, academics, or professionally.


In our discussion, Liam had some sharp questions: “What grades do I need to get into this University or that College? Would good grades help me get a look at the best schools?" He plays soccer and hoops, and would like to continue to play once in college. He is a terrific goalie on the pitch and a heady, sharpshooting point guard on the hardwood, and it’s clear to me that although academics are his priority, that sports will play into his decision when considering the best place to pursue his education. Conversation ensued and the conclusion was pretty simple: In the end you need to put in the work to get the best grades possible. Put in the extra work reading and in test prep. When it comes to hoops and soccer, commit yourself to becoming the best you can be and work on the strength, speed, handle, and shot. It seems so clear as a parent—just do it all really well and success will be his to enjoy. Whether Liam will be able to follow-through, I hope so, but he is the only one that truly knows if he is giving a maximum effort. I’ll be there every step of the way. But when it comes down to it, he is the one in charge of his destiny. It’s a lot to think about for a young man just at the beginning of his life journey, but overcoming this challenge positions him for success with each subsequent hurdle in life.

Later that night, as I was reflecting on my conversation with my son, I recognized how all of the advice I had for Liam really is applicable to us as grown-ups. In the business I head at NetApp, our priority is selling the best possible products and solutions to our customers. This is especially true now as we move further along in our adoption of clustered ONTAP, and like wherever Liam lands after High School, it is our future. Will we focus and commit 110% of what’s required, yielding results worthy of Ivy-League status or simply take what is given? Clustered ONTAP is exciting in that it offers benefits to our customers that no one else in the industry can.


There is a transformation in the way IT does business today and it is going to change the landscape, allowing us to be more aligned with our customers business and IT goals.  To drive/induce/incubate that synergy we have to be knowledgeable about our customers, their businesses and what helps make their businesses run optimally. We need to change the way we approach our jobs and commit to be prepared to be a greater asset to our customers. To be successful, it requires us to commit to be the best that we can be, and only we know how close to our best we are achieving.


Clustered ONTAP has some serious teeth. Consider today a cloud provider that supports 4000-5000 customers and millions of exchange mailboxes. Their downtime window is literally ZERO. When they add new clients, their existing clients cannot afford any service level impacts. The way they manage asset lifecycle will change forever. How do the current storage offerings meet these new business demands? The answer is simple…they don’t, not even our previous offerings. The only solution in the world to meet these demands is Clustered Data ONTAP.  This is a HUGE OPPORTUNITY for NetApp, IT departments, and their management alike. Our company vision is built around Agile Data Infrastructure that is Intelligent, Immortal and Infinite. There is no other way to accomplish the challenges data centers will be facing without Non-Disruptive Operations and NetApp has the ability to scale seamlessly (Infinite) through clustering. NetApp continues to deliver intelligence in our value added features that have continued to differentiate us for the past 20 years. There are companies that were great and faced the same big Opportunity and failed, and others that changed the landscape of the future. Clustered Data ONTAP is here. Let’s seize the opportunity our technology presents customer and vendor, and be the company that leads the transformation empowers our customers to achieve Ivy-league status among their peers.


We know it’s not easy, but we know what we need to do. It starts with our commitment and a willingness to adapt to change and seize the opportunities it affords, not just participate in the status quo. My sales team knows (and those of them reading this will probably roll their eyes because I always harp on this) if we continue to do the same things we've always done in a changing environment like technology, we will lose momentum and success will be elusive. Clustered ONTAP opens a whole new world of possibilities if we, in lockstep with our customers, embrace this solution it’s much like telling Liam to set his sights on an D1 or Ivy. With hard work from NetApp, the best products for our Enterprise customers continue to be available. It would be easier to just relax and enjoy our continued success, but relaxing is not an option when it comes to technology. 


Long-term focus and hard work by our customers, sales teams, and partners to move to an infrastructure that will give annuitized returns for years to come through the storage efficiencies of clustered ONTAP is worth it. It requires being aggressive, possibly changing approaches, and being open to finding new ways to drive efficiency and change, but the pay-off will be virtually limitless.


This is the an opportunity for greatness for both us and our customers, as we move further into the  new year and its taking shape in realized efficiencies, returns on investment, and an Agile Infrastructure that can handle unpredictable but certain obstacles thrown at IT departments daily. If we both are open to change and willing to visualize the fruits/long term benefits made possible by a commitment to/adoption of clustered ONTAP and all that it makes possible, it sounds bold and it is, but that has been standard operating procedure for the amazing leadership of this company, who wouldn’t have it any other way and remain committed to making this possible for our customers.


We consider ourselves a family here at NetApp, just like my son, as part of the NetApp Leadership team, I commit that we are here for you, customer, prospect or employee – every step of the way. When it’s all said and done, I have unwavering confidence in our commitment to investing maximum effort to put anyone onboard in the best position for success now and in the future.


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