Meghan Fintland of NetApp’s Corporate Communications team sat down with Shaun Mahoney, Americas Director of Technology & Strategy, for another Corner Cube interview. The Corner Cube is a series of interviews and feature posts that highlight the people of NetApp, bringing you an unfiltered point of view from an engineer or executive leader on a variety of topics in technology and business today. In this post, Shaun discusses his experience on Wall Street, what attracted him to NetApp, and what’s next for the company, its customers and the financial services industry.
Can you tell us about your career before joining NetApp and what inspired you to get into the financial services industry?
While I started my career as a project engineer, most of my background is in financial services IT. Before joining NetApp almost a decade ago, I spent 15 years working with large financial institutions including AIG, BlackRock, Citi, and JP Morgan Chase. I lived and went to school in New York, so a career in financial services was a natural choice for me. Everything else was second-tier.
Having a successful career on Wall Street, what attracted you to NetApp?
I’ve worked with a number of IT tech firms, but nothing compared to the partnership I had with NetApp during my time at Citi. I built strong relationships with executives and engineering teams, achieving tremendous success with the NetApp SnapLock solution solving bank compliance challenges and also achieving significant file server consolidation for Windows file shares. My previous experience as a customer now helps me ensure a good balance between customer visits, spending time with partners, and working with product operations, marketing and sales teams.
What really excites me about NetApp is our key differentiators—the ability to roll out complex services for financial services customers, which include all the aspects of application integration and certification. Our solutions ensure that our customers can manage data and deploy applications in any environment. No matter what the next technology is—hybrid, cloud or flash—we can incorporate it into an existing infrastructure. This is a huge advantage we have over our competitors. We’re having a lot of fun playing offense right now.
What has changed since you first started in the industry and what’s ahead?
The biggest change was the shift from siloed architectures to a more experimental approach, allowing for increased application deployment.
For example, virtualization has completely changed the market. Fifteen years ago, bare metal was the default, and IT organizations would have never considered virtualized environments for critical apps. Today, the default server in the data center is virtualized, and everything else is an exception. These new virtualization capabilities are allowing customers to be much more flexible about where their workloads reside.
Today, there is more pressure for IT to become an internal service broker. Most organizations think they can do better internally what AWS or Azure do, mainly because they have more complex environments and a number of application integrations, along with their legacy infrastructure.
What are some of the customer challenges of today and how have you used your experience being on the customer side to help alleviate some of the pain points?
Today, customers need to do things faster and more simply, but they’re enamored by concepts like convergence. Some think flash is going to solve more problems than it actually can. There are also ongoing security and privacy challenges unique to the industry. For example, customers are facing significant regulatory requirements to keep information at the same time as some customers oppose this due to consumer privacy concerns.
The ability to scale is also an issue. In some cases, there’s been a shift in the economics model away from the cost-cutting measures of the recession to today’s concerns around how firms are going to make more money.
Coming from the customer side, I understand the complexity of pulling together the solution through all of their pain points, whether that’s dealing with bureaucracy or operations or end users. End users don’t care about bits or bytes; they care about how things matter for their business and how they’re going to be impacted. That’s not a tech outcome, that’s a business outcome. I’m able to understand our customers better because I can speak their language.
What can vendors like NetApp do to improve business outcomes for financial services?
We made an investment early on in financial services and it has paid off. Today, the Data Fabric, NetApp’s vision for the future of data management, enables IT organizations to become the service provider they want so that they can make the best decisions for their business. With the Data Fabric, they’re not limited by protocols or the location of their data centers. It’s about providing them with the agility and flexibility they need to run their business. It’s about data mobility and allowing customers to have the freedom to choose—from private storage opportunities to co-located facilities—so that they are not limited by their initial investments. With the Data Fabric, they can innovate faster and with fewer resources, driving growth and competitive advantage in a fast-changing business landscape.
Data Fabric is NetApp’s vision for the future of data management. It gives you the freedom to seamlessly manage your data across the hybrid cloud. You can move data where you need it most, innovate faster, and always make the best decisions for you and your organization.