By Karen Livoli, Director, Software Platforms Product Marketing at NetApp
About eight months ago, in order to get deeper client insights, my team started a program that interviewed early adopters of clustered Data ONTAP. The overwhelming consistency of what we found surprised me.
Out of several dozen substantial interviews and conversations, more than 88 percent of responders specifically identified nondisruptive operation as the primary differentiator that convinced them to either switch to NetApp or upgrade their current NetApp products and services.
The interviews comprised an extremely wide range of business types and sizes. 50 percent did over $1 billion in annual sales; 30 percent spanned from $50 million to a billion; and 20 percent were less than $50 million. Regardless of geographies, industries or verticals, nondisruptive operations (NDO) was identified as an incredibly relevant and critical business advantage.
For many, it was a primary business necessity that they had been struggling to live without, because they were not aware that nondisruptive operation was even possible. Incredibly, of all the customers that pinpointed how important NDO was to successful daily operation, not a single one actually asked for it. It was up to the NetApp team to create the bridge by educating them about its benefits.
After the interviews were completed, we poured over the calls, looking for patterns that could better help us understand the need for and benefits of NDO.
Sure enough, regardless of type or size of business, NDO was identified as a highly powerful and especially beneficial tool when used to mitigate three primary challenges: performance and uptime, business growth, and tech refreshes.
An example of NDO providing benefits for clients who need excellent performance and uptime was a customer that provided software as a service to thousands of different companies in the legal profession. Scheduling downtime was a painstaking and labor-intensive process that required them to contact each company individually and coordinate a downtime window. Through adoption of a NetApp 6200 running a 4-node cluster, the client was able to cut that process down to just a few hours--a substantial increase in productivity and service to their customers.
A typical business growth scenario involved a multi-billion dollar medical-industry client that was spinning off a successful division into its own standalone company. Though already an existing account, the division was essentially starting from square one with a massive data migration. They couldn’t leave their data on the parent company’s servers, but they were not certain how quickly they would scale or grow. With NetApp’s NDO capability, they were able to manage growth without taking down their infrastructure to add or incorporate new equipment.
The best representation of the importance of NDO for tech refreshes was an extremely successful client in the energy field. With so many critical functions and operations dependent on the integrity and accessibility of data, scheduling downtime was incredibly difficult. And at costs of up to $1 million for just 15 minutes of downtime, it was also extraordinarily costly. With NDO, not only was the client able to perform tech refreshes on schedule without taking any critical operations offline, they were also able to perform substantial upgrades to their equipment.
For these clients, and almost all the others we spoke with, downtime was accepted as a very unpleasant necessity that they were simply forced to manage. And often, it had to be dealt with or scheduled when they were at their most vulnerable--when growth, success or even crises were demanding greater capabilities and functionality from their data and storage. By providing--and often, even educating--these clients about NDO capability, NetApp provided dramatic and measurable business benefits, while strengthening our connection as not simply a vendor, but a proactive, strategic partner for their data management needs.