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The Highway to Dell

Beth Busenhart

Dell vs. NetApp, which is better? The term innovation conjures up images of entrepreneurs writing code in garages that evolve into start-ups with ping pong tables and fancy lunches. Concepts like agile development, cloud native, and Kubernetes are not usually synonymous with old guard companies in technology or otherwise. Regardless of the industry, it's impossible to remain relevant in the face of today’s mounting macro business challenges without evolving and modernizing your company’s IT strategy. Not only does NetApp help customers navigate this journey, we have our own digital transformation success to draw from.

NetApp has taken deliberate measures to reinvent its strategy over the past 10 years with the goal of enabling customers to secure data and optimize their experience in the cloud and on premises.

  1. Digital transformation isn’t a buzz word, it’s something we’ve done. Employing DevOps best practices has allowed NetApp to streamline our IT organization and bring the most innovative support and services to our customers.
  2. Healthy fundamentals allow for timely market moves. NetApp is strategically acquiring cutting edge technology firms to support our cloud strategy.
  3. Partnered with the top three public cloud providers, we offer our customers flexibility and freedom of choice on prem and in the public cloud.
To help us better understand what sets NetApp apart as an authority on the subject of innovation, I had another chat with our principal technologist Chris Merz. Chris can you talk to me a bit about some of our recent acquisitions and how they fit into NetApp’s cloud strategy?

“Sure, Beth. Let’s take a look at the 2020 NetApp portfolio additions that will be key to our innovative Cloud Data Services strategy: Talon, CloudJumper, and most recently, Spot.

Talon technology bolsters the seamless user experience in ROBO and Anything-From-Anywhere distributed workforce use cases, fortifying business continuity. CloudJumper, is an innovative, modern workspace management suite. This is a modern, hybrid multicloud successor to VDI, representing the evolution of end-user computing. Spot takes things to a whole new level, with real-time cloud resource optimization, analysis, and cloud infrastructure automation.

We’ve always believed in a level playing field and open ecosystems. These investments in innovation deliver on our ongoing commitment to our customers, to bring them the best, most efficient, reliable, and optimal solutions, in service of /their/ business outcomes.”

You mention NetApp’s commitment to an open ecosystem. It’s tempting to look for an easy button or a linear path to the cloud. Dell, for example, claims to simplify the process for its customers. What does this look like in practice?

“Sure.. Dell has proscribed a very specific approach, detailed in their recent product launches. As we’ve all heard recently, Michael Dell has floated a VMware split from DellEMC, with the intended effect of floating shares on speculation during uncertainty, but I digress. Dell’s has punted their entire Cloud strategy to VMware. There is no path to the Cloud, but through their license fee hell. As outlined, it goes something like this:

Dell Powerstore (running VMware) -> vMotion VM+data -> VXRail -> vMotion VM+data -> VMware Cloud in AWS.

You’ll notice that while your VM (and its data volume) are now in the Cloud... you really haven’t *gotten anywhere*, really. Still stuck paying the VMware tax, plus the new Cloud service tax, plus the various layers that you had to hop thru to get there.

What was the point? This is not the promise of The Cloud. This is not a good ROI, or a good strategy, given the known unknowns of today's landscape. Let’s be smarter than that. Let’s have a conversation about the real architectural alternatives there are to traditional vendor lockin.”

So, Dell achieves simplicity by limiting optionality. This doesn’t necessarily improve customer outcomes. The conversation NetApp is having with customers is more holistic and focused on making data and application workloads mobile. It’s not about buying one storage box in the data center to run enterprise applications and supplementing that with some public cloud storage to appease developers. How else do NetApp and Dell differ in our approaches to supporting customers on a path to the cloud?

“Well, there really couldn’t be a starker contrast. Dell’s once and future strategy appears to be: delay any effective shift to Cloud Architectures for the customer base. They funnel any Cloud conversations to VMware, the fee-heavy company that tech orgs, literally, FLED to the cloud to get away from. In the end, it’s a dead end. I’m more than happy to have an open conversation about this.

NetApp, on the other hand, embraced the Cloud years ago, and has been heavily investing, both in internally driven innovation, as well as by acquisition, to create a New Normal for data systems architectures. Anything from Anywhere, supported by hybrid multicloud integration, and Tier 1 services in the world’s leading Public Clouds.

NetApp *is* the de facto standard for doing hybrid data systems right. We are not about walled gardens, but about open ecosystems. We’re about collaboration, not lock-in. Let’s open up the playing field, and see what can be done if we *all* put our best foot forward, and allow customers to choose from the options that benefits them most, not vice versa.”

NetApp is a seasoned company with storage in our DNA and cloud native at the bleeding edge of our portfolio. We have cracked the code to bring the security and reliability of an on prem data center into the public cloud along with a unified experience. We have the ability to meet our customers where they are today and where their data needs to be in the future. You have a choice – it's Cloud or Bust with NetApp or continue on the Highway to Dell.

Dell vs. NetApp blog

Beth Busenhart

Beth is the Market Strategist for DevOps. With over 15 years of experience in a variety of dynamic industries including media, technology, and private equity; the through line has been a passion for delivering innovative technology solutions that transform the customer experience. Beth is a data driven, strategic thinker who excels at breaking a big vision down into an actionable plan. At NetApp, Beth enjoys helping customers understand how their IT strategy is critical to achieving business outcomes. Outside of work she can be found on the ski slopes or a yoga mat.

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