20 years ago Dave Hitz and James Lau left Auspex to found NetApp, along with Michael Malcolm. I doubt they envisaged that two decades later they would have become the creators of the #1 storage operating system in the world. Hopefully you have seen some of the advertising that NetApp has been driving, which started this week, with some outstanding leadership claims. One is focused on that #1 storage OS position and others on equally foundational statements, such as “96% of the Fortune 100” use NetApp storage and NetApp is saving its customers $25 billion and counting (based on Automated Support Data and the virtualization guarantees).
But do these claims matter? Why are they important to customers?
Well some, like the “96% of Fortune 100” using NetApp could be construed as a ‘so what’. Large scale companies usually have a plethora of storage solutions and it is perfectly feasible that every Fortune 100 company has at least some kit from each of the major storage vendors. But what it does tell you is the ubiquity of NetApp in the largest companies. And as a customer or a partner, that must give you confidence. An adjacent point is that several of those customers have a NetApp estate of > 50PB. In fact, although it isn’t on the Fortune 100 list, NetApp has one customer that has an estate over 700PB! I have previously referenced CERN (see post here) with an annual growth of 20PB and a database table of over 4 trillion rows sitting on NetApp! (as an aside, the CERN case study went live last week and powerful it is too). This year the storage vendor with the largest market share (according to the IDC figures) referenced their satisfaction with having their first customer with over 50PB of storage. To quote Matt Watts, the NetApp evangelist in EMEA, “Yep, just like NetApp“. We’ve had customers with such large scale estates for many years. We know about scale.
Saving our customers $25bn in unnecessary spend is also a big claim worth digging into. What does it really mean? Dave Hitz is fond of saying that NetApp is the only storage vendor that wants you to buy LESS storage. Eek, that’s like turkeys voting for Christmas, right? Well, yes and no. We encourage you to use the NetApp storage efficiency technologies to reduce the disk capacities you need with de-duplication, compression and other techniques. So, you use what you have more fully and effectively. On the other hand, when you do need to buy storage, you come to NetApp as you will need less than from other vendors, guaranteed (see it here).
And then the #1 storage operating system claim. This is incontrovertible. IDC data supports it. More ONTAP is out there than any other storage operating system, and that includes Flare, Dart and Enginuity, the principal EMC OSs. Does it really matter though?
Well, it does. And here is why. If you are going to invest in using one operating system, why wouldn’t you want to learn one that runs across a range of storage hardware (NetApp’s 2000, 3000, 6000 and v-Series systems)? If you are an IT director, hiring talented staff is always a challenge. If you are running the world’s most popular storage operating system you will by definition open up a wider pool.
But perhaps the most obvious reason it matters is that ONTAP is number 1 because it is the most feature-rich and agile operating system out there. If you need non-stop operations, scale-up and scale-out and the most comprehensive storage efficiency and built-in intelligence, then there is only one operating system with it all – ONTAP 8.1.1. Our detractors will say that you need to buy specialist hardware for each specific area – so for scale-out you need one platform, for data efficiency you need another and for non-disruptive operations still another. This is why there are so many operating systems out there. But, why wouldn’t you want all those capabilities in every system? wouldn’t you want non-stop operations, guaranteed immortality of data, the lowest capacity and usage footprint etc in every implementation? We think so, which is why ONTAP is the result of 20 years of innovation, love and ingenuity. It is the daddy of storage OSs.
Congratulations to NetApp for 20 years serving the world with the #1 Storage OS.