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2015 Year in Review
2015 was a year of rapid flash and cloud adoption in ANZ and many businesses began to address the shift from managing storage to managing data. We asked NetApp’s John Martin, Director of Strategy and Technology – APAC, Walter Schroeder, Consulting Systems Engineer – Big Data, Glenn McPherson, Director of Sales and James Kennedy-Moffat, Sales Representative – New Zealand to reflect on 2015 and share some of the key takeaways from the past year.
Do you think 2015 has lived up to the title “The Year of Innovation?”
John: Yes and no. There was certainly a lot of new technologies released, some of it disruptive innovations in the true sense of the word, and a lot of sustaining innovation. It’s a bit like the Olympics, where new records are broken and there are some standout performances, but we expect that every one of those will soon be beaten by what is yet to come. The pace of new invention and innovation continues on an exponential trend.
Walter: There has been a lot of disruption to the technology that drives business. Some businesses have harnessed this disruption and have managed to deploy innovative solutions to existing problems.
James:2015 is the year that the idea of the Data Fabric started turning into a practical application. As customers struggle with the widening gap between what the business needs to progress, and what IT can deliver, then the hybrid cloud is going to be the dominant architecture for companies to address their needs.
Where did you see the biggest disruption to business in 2015?
John: That depends on which business you are in. In the case of storage and data management vendors like NetApp, the biggest disruptors have been Flash and Cloud. These innovations have caused traditional enterprise storage to change from being a market that grows at 10%-15% per year, to one that has shrunk by a similar amount. This change is happening across the board.
Walter: The continued focus on end-user mobile platforms is continuing to change the ways customers interact with companies and the rest of their environment. This has led to a large gap between the customers that need/want to interact with a company via face-to-face methods (phone, in person) and the customer that wants little or no human interaction on a 24x7 basis.
James:Companies want the simplicity of the cloud. Businesses see their IT as complex and in turn, IT sees itself as complex. Everybody wants simplicity and cloud is providing that simplicity. Our resellers need to adapt too, and become more like service providers to mimic the simplicity of the cloud.
How do you feel the ANZ market has embraced Flash and to what end?
John:Australia has been a leading adopter of enterprise Flash memory technology for the last few years. The big change this year has been the shift from disk and hybrid arrays towards All Flash arrays. Since the re-launch of All Flash FAS in June this year sales have increased by triple digit percentages, and I wouldn’t be surprised if All Flash FAS not only became the best selling All Flash Array in the market, but was the best selling storage array overall.
James:Flash is the wallpaper that covers a lot of cracks. The use of flash masks cracks like poorly written applications and poorly designed databases, however flash is not an end-solution in and of itself. It is just a medium that buys the customer time.
Glenn: Flash isn’t the be all and end all of storage. Rather it is another type that enables improved performance for certain workloads. Therefore its more an important resource for businesses to use in their data management strategy, as opposed to the strategy!
This year, NetApp took its Data Fabric messaging out into the world. How do you feel this was received?
John: Every time I talk about our data fabric message to architects and CIO’s its obvious they can immediately see how it will help remove the compliance and cost and risk obstacles that are slowing down so many of their cloud initiatives. The shift from managing storage to managing data and turning that data into a better business decision and a better customer outcomes is so much more relevant to the business than discussing RAID layouts and deduplication and compression algorithms. I think it’s a discussion IT has been waiting for because it is all about “How do we align technology to both top and bottom line business results.”
Walter:The increased data mobility, flexibility and simplified, seamlessly movement between on-prem, hybrid and external clouds has really caught people’s imagination. Looking forward into 2016, communicating the finer points about Data Fabric will continue to be a priority.
Glenn:It is really starting to resonate with the market – as the conversation moves above the ‘type of storage’ like flash, sata, SAS or cloud, to how customers can manage and control their data.
Globally, what do you think was the biggest technical development in the enterprise storage space this year?
John:All Flash FAS of course!
Walter: The rise of Docker as application containers and their proven resource efficiency over VMs. Docker will have as much of impact on storage and it deployment as it does to servers and networks.
Glenn: Definitely Data Fabric. It’s the only true means for controlling and managing data across storage types (be it on premise, in the cloud or even on other vendors disk!) which makes its revolutionary.
What do you see as the biggest challenges confronting Australian businesses in 2016?
John:The ongoing digital disruption happening worldwide will require Australian companies to invest in a portfolio of innovation approaches. To be successful, Australian businesses are going to need to look at solutions that return value quickly, get the best out of the skill-sets they already have while setting themselves up for the future, and leverage local expertise.
Walter: The ability to use the truly innovative technology to drive their businesses further rather than be distracted and sidetracked by older technology that has just been rebranded.
James: Customers will need to embrace the hybrid cloud as the dominant datacenre technology. If Australian businesses want to unlock the financial benefits of using cloud compute resources, then they will need to seek help to solve the hardest problem of all – how do you easily move your data around to where it is needed most?
Glenn: Working with vendors and providers that can deliver true data management solutions that deliver measureable outcomes
How/what has inspired or motivated you the most in 2015 and why?
John: Apart from seeing my kids grow into beautiful human beings, I think that seeing NetApp transform itself from the inside out to help it’s customers and stakeholders get advantage from the massive disruptions in our industry while retaining a core belief in doing business with honour.
Glenn: NetApp’s willingness to work on delivering commercial models that enable customers to truly consume and manage data as they need it efficiently. Also, NetApp’s Data Fabric vision is exhilarating and seeing the team execute the initiative is very inspiring.