Breaking down the walls at NetApp EMEA Insight 2014 in Berlin




The end of another busy week. I've just returned from the EMEA Insight event at the City Cube at Berlin. What an event

it was. Attended by thousands, buzzing with activity and for the first time our customers were in attendance. Just to set the

scene. In previous years Insight EMEA was an internal NetApp event where technical teams from our community met for

product updates, training and networking.


This year customers came along. We changed very little. The customers heard what we heard and it struck me that the

barriers of the past are well and truly broken down. Very apt in a city like Berlin celebrating 25 years of freedom since the

wall came down in 1989.




But what did our customers think ? Well the folks I spoke with commented how enlightened the concept was. Words like

unique were used.  When you step back and think about sharing - why not ? Customers can comment, direct, propose

requirements and tell us where they see gaps. This made for some compelling sessions so if you didn't make it this year,

make a note for next year. You won't be disappointed.


While I was at the event I met with the press, but this time with a difference. My press meetings were with Eric Grancher

from CERN. Undoubtedly one of the most data intensive organisations on the planet. As you will know from my previous

Blogs I am a Big fan of Big science. The data challenges they face, and solve, often find their way into the commercial

world. I see Big Science as the proving ground for solutions to many of the data management challenges other organisations

will see in the future.


I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Eric and hearing how CERN solved the challenge of data pouring out of the

Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at 1PB per second. How the many Oracle database instances are configured, how the IT

downtime can stop the LHC operating, along with the impact on costs and staff productivity. As the Head of operations

at CERN once said of the worlds particle physicists "They will turn the knob until it breaks". Which makes CERN one of

the most enjoyable and  challenging places to work. With the data storage requirement growing at 20PB per annum

CERN make use of several key enabling NetApp technologies to achieve the balance of efficiency, stability,

performance, scalability and availability.


CERN were also early adopters of  NetApp FlashCache combined with SATA disk, which they found gave them the

performance of Fibre Channel (FC) making the solution price competitive with CERN's performance and capacity growth

predictions. The FlashCache and SATA combination also solved the challenge of cost and inefficiency associated with

over provisioning. 




I was also very pleased to read in the newspaper on the journey back that scientists working on the data from

the LHC at CERN had discovered two new particles called Xi_b'- and Xi_b*. Each one is six

times more massive than a proton. According to Eric, the LHC is undergoing maintenance and upgrade at the

moment as is their IT. Once it returns in March 2015 the LHC will operate at new energy levels so the question

is will we see the new answers the big questions of the Origin of Mass, Dark Matter and the Big Bang. We will

see, but the one certainty is that NetApp will continue to help solve the data management challenges in one

the most demanding data environments you will ever find.


See you next year at Insight EMEA 2015 at the City Cube


CERN Technical Case Study


On twitter: @lozdjames