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Hybrid Flash Solutions to Enhance Storage

By Jay Kidd, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, NetApp

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Jay Kidd, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, NetApp

What significant changes did the Storage segment witness in 2013? What did these changes mean to vendors and customers?

In 2013, flash and cloud dominated the storage industry. The year began with only flash start-ups and then shifted to more established suppliers as customers moved to adopt All-Flash Arrays into applications where proven reliability and support mattered equally with raw performance.

In addition, cloud picked up speed in 2013. Customers became more confident in the service levels that their enterprise cloud partners could provide. Hyperscalar public cloud suppliers Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, emerged as innovative and efficient options for part of the enterprise application portfolio.

What are some of the changes you had anticipated would happen in 2013 but did not happen?

SSD costs slowed their price decline during 2013 as supply limitations encouraged profit taking by suppliers.    The advent of 3D NAND technology will likely cause prices to start falling more rapidly in 2014.  

Can you paint us the picture of how the landscape for this industry segment will change in 2014?  What are some of the broader trends you are closely watching?

As CIOs move to managing a portfolio of cloud services, they will look at their internal IT as one more service option. All IT owned by a company will push to be managed as a “private cloud,” and expectations of responsiveness to the business, cost competitiveness, and service-level agreements will be benchmarked against external cloud services. Customers will also be looking for open source solutions for operating their private cloud, resulting in increased momentum around technologies like OpenStack and CloudStack as organizations look for greater control and flexibility. Although it hasn’t reached the same level as cloud, converged infrastructure is getting traction in the industry as a way to reduce the time, cost and risk exposure for enterprises and service providers.

Several technology trends that built momentum in 2013 will continue to grow. Clustered storage adoption will accelerate in enterprises and service providers. Converged Infrastructure will become the most compelling building block of data center infrastructure. The adoption of object storage will grow as applications that monetize vast capacities of data objects gather momentum. And in-memory databases, led by the popularity of SAP HANA, will enter the mainstream.

How would customer spends change in 2014 (for Storage)? What makes you think customers will be buying more/ less?

Spending on Cloud IT options will increase and customers will seek ways to effectively manage a hybrid model of private and public cloud options.   The big growth in 2014 will be in All-Flash Arrays as customers get comfortable with the capabilities of these platforms and confident in the offerings from the mainstream enterprise storage providers.

What's in store for your company in 2014?

Moving to the cloud means adopting multiple cloud resources that span private and public, but customers don’t want a collection of discrete resources – they want the ability to manage the entire environment from a single purview. The introduction of a new multi cloud architecture makes data governance more complex because data is distributed, and not under direct control.

With an enterprise data management solution such as NetApp’s clustered Data ONTAP operating system customers can span their data storage landscape, irrespective of data type or location. NetApp’s Data ONTAP is the world’s number-one branded storage operating system providing customers with seamless data management across a wide range of private and public cloud offerings. Cloud transition creates opportunities for NetApp to 1) help organizations manage their data in the cloud with  ONTAP and 2) to service providers who are brokering these services and require scale and efficiency for customer services.

Flash will also be a strategic focus of NetApp’s. We’ve taken the approach of developing two unique all flash array architectures; the EF-Series designed for dedicated applications requiring the utmost in performance, low latency and reliability and our FlashRay (on target for unveiling in the first half of 2014) will address the future needs and requirements of all flash arrays that are capable of supporting multiple applications in a shared infrastructure in a scale-out architecture. At NetApp we see an ongoing need to address both of these all flash array markets segments, alongside our hybrid flash solutions that combine flash and HDD technologies.