NetApp Insight 2015 Day Two: NetApp and EMC

NetApp Insight 2015


By Larry Freeman, NetApp


As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, the theme of this year’s Insight conference is “Building Data Fabric Together,” which embodies NetApp’s vision of an interconnected hybrid cloud where data can move seamlessly across multiple end points. Today, EMC was a frequent topic at the conference, as NetApp announced a 3X performance guarantee. Move your high-transaction databases from a traditional storage array (like EMC’s VNX and VMAX) onto a NetApp all-flash AFF8080 or EF560, and we’ll guarantee at least a 3x IOPS improvement at millisecond latency —or we’ll make it right. Details and legal terms of the 3X performance guarantee can be found here.


At today’s conference, I was especially captivated by a session presented by Matthew Coy, IT Director at Worthington Industries in Columbus, Ohio. Worthington is a manufacturing conglomerate with $3.3B in annual sales, and a former EMC customer.


As Matthew described it, his first day at Worthington was every IT Director’s nightmare.  Primary storage uptime was only 88% (or conversely, it was down 12% of the time), and no one seemed to know how to improve it. On Matt’s 2nd day on the job, he was asked to sign a very large purchase order to update his EMC-based backup infrastructure, which he boldly refused to sign. Instead, he set about finding out why the storage infrastructure was in such disarray.


EMC You LaterWhat he found certainly would have scared off many people.  It turns out that the recession of 2010 had hit Worthington pretty hard, to the point where no investment had been made in the storage infrastructure in five years.  Zero. Nada.  Zilch. Matthew immediately determined the rough cost of bringing the infrastructure up to date and presented it to the CEO, who agreed to approve the recommendation.


As Matthew explained, he didn’t have the luxury of time to select from a large variety of vendors, so he immediately narrowed his choices to the two industry-leading storage companies: the incumbent, EMC, and NetApp, with which he had some previous experience. Needless to say, Worthington’s new storage environment is now 100% NetApp.  I could go into great detail about the products, the configurations, and the results that Worthington achieved after its 62-day, EMC-to-NetApp transition of 12 critical applications and approximately 500TB of data, but that’s not the real story here.


What impressed me most about Matthew’s story was this. After a thorough investigation of the current situation, he realized that for past 20 years, IT vendors had been telling Worthington what to buy without understanding their business. In fact, when EMC presented their proposal, it was more of the same—upgrade this, expand that, and don’t worry, we’ll make it all work for you.

NetApp, on the other hand, sat down with him and essentially said “before we even start talking about your storage environment, lets discuss your business and what you’d like to achieve. After all, this is your solution, not ours.” Matthew described this as a turning point in the discussion. From that moment on, he chose to work with NetApp (and integration partner Forsythe), and has never regretted the decision since.


As I listened to the session, I couldn’t help but think about a blog that I posted several years ago—working with NetApp just feels different.  This was based upon dozens of similar experiences, which I summed up as follows:


“Some people say the personalities of the two companies just reflect typical east coast (EMC) vs. west coast (NetApp) attitudes, but I think the analysis goes much deeper. When people make a large purchase, they feel better when they believe that their vendor is completely committed to their success. This is not to say that EMC is uncommitted to the success of their customers, but that NetApp seems better at developing a tight bond between the customer and vendor…”


For more information on everything NetApp Insight, tune into the Tech ONTAP Podcast for daily recaps.