Most of our competition could be described as “Ambassadors Without Portfolio.” No, they are not government emissaries without assignments; they are providers of single solutions (ie: no “portfolio” of products). They have one main storage product (maybe two or three flavors of the same product line) and they will tell you that it can do everything you need it to do. And that might be true if you’re willing to buy so much of it that it swamps your floor space and OPEX budget just to achieve the performance you need.
Our customers tell us that doing business with NetApp is different than doing business with our competitors. How so? NetApp listens. We listen to your problems and help you find solutions. The other guys are like working with used car dealers (What do I need to do to get you into this storage system today?).
Why is NetApp more consultative? That’s easy; we have a large portfolio of solutions to choose from. Some of our products are right for your solution and some are dead wrong. We have the ability to architect the correct storage solution for your problem without trying to shoe-horn in something that doesn’t fit. We have SAN (large, small, full-featured, basic, and all very fast). We have NAS (we led the charge to put NAS on the map). We have object storage. We have flash (for the CPU, to supplement the standard arrays and even in full flash arrays without HDD). Yep, NetApp.
So what is it like to do business with us. For one thing, we don’t promote one product over the other. We look at the storage requirements, the workflows, the anticipated growth (in volume, bandwidth, workflow, concurrent users) and in anticipated changes in the I/O patterns. That analysis, done by NetApp or by our skilled partners, results in a solution that fits your problem, not one that creates new problems.
This approach sometimes takes our customers by surprise. Many times a customer will ask us about our price per gigabyte or terabyte. The right answer to that question is, “For what??” Our competitors rarely give that answer, as their used car is still the only one on the lot to sell. If you’re looking to support workflows where people add value, you’re going to need high bandwidth and probably a lot of sequential I/O (although maybe not – that’s why we ask the questions). If machines are adding value (transcoding or image rendering), you need a solution that handles many tasks at once (I/O that is more random) and has the ability to move lots of small files to where they are needed.
In this blog, I have talked about object storage quite a lot, because it is not the simple solution some think it is. There are a lot of questions to answer first and a lot of pre-planning and integration. If an object storage vendor promotes his or her solution before completely understanding your problem, look out!
And flash is one of the most requested topics of discussion for our meetings this year at NAB. Did you know that flash, if not done right, is a really poor performer for sequential data? Usually a lot less than HDD. Seems counter intuitive? Ask us to tell you what’s happening under the covers. After all, NetApp is the leading provider of flash storage arrays in the industry.
If you plan to be at NAB next week, stop buy and ask for me or any of our media team at booth SL9510. We’ll show you why working with NetApp is different (and better) than all of those ambassadors without portfolios. Follow us at Twitter at #NetAppNAB for all of the latest updates!