Different regions have different dates to end Daylight Saving Time for winter. Most European countries are changing time on October 27th, while the USA will only change on November 3rd. As a result, next week Las Vegas will only be eight hours behind Western Europe, as opposed to the traditional nine hours. This is good news for those people traveling from this side of the pond to attend NetApp Insight 2019 in Las Vegas. It will be a little easier for them to listen to NetApp’s latest announcements and roadmap for the next year. Talking about this event…

What’s new after 12 months?

Last year my colleague James Gallegos wrote a blog post about Some Questions To Consider If You’re Attending NetApp Insight. It’s interesting to look back and see if there has been any improvement on these questions.

  • The NetApp NextCredit program has not been enhanced (1). It doesn’t really compare with our innovative Evergreen™ subscription model.

The Evergreen Storage experience is like SaaS and the cloud, but on-premises: Evergreen continuously delivers Pure innovations in software and hardware to you – without any planned disruption, downtime, or data migrations. This is a true subscription to innovation.

  • End-to-end NVMe on the rest of the All-Flash FAS line: NetApp has added a new end-to-end NVMe All-Flash product to their portfolio (A320). This mid-range system requires an NVMe expansion shelf (NS224), which is unique to this model. It cannot be connected to the existing and higher-end AFF A800. What is my upgrade and migration path as a customer? And the other All-Flash Array systems are still not end-to-end NVMe.

Pure FlashArray™//X product line is 100% native NVMe and delivers a storage class memory (SCM) cache boost to maximize acceleration for demanding applications. Following that success for tier1 workloads, we have developed what we believe to be the world’s first capacity-optimized all-flash storage array: the FlashArray™//C. Beware hybrid storage arrays, we’re coming!

  • NetApp MetroCluster:
    • Is still active/passive (2) for a given application or workload: secondary site volumes are brought online only after a switchover
    • Does not provide RTO Zero (RTO under 120 seconds) (3)
    • Is not supported by Cloud Volume ONTAP (4)

Pure Storage ActiveCluster™ achieves RTO & RPO Zero – within data centers or across metro region synchronously. For global protection, it can be run Active-Active async across three data centers. Pure1® Cloud Mediator means you don’t need your own third site for mediation, saving you additional hardware, software, AND setup takes minutes.

Running workloads in the cloud? It also delivers the highest level of HA for cloud-native apps: you can run ActiveCluster between two AWS availability zones with Cloud Block Store™ from Pure.

  • The myriad of NetApp management tools seem to continue to sprawl (5) (OnCommand Insight, Active IQ Unified Manager, OnCommand Workflow Automation, NetApp Cloud Manager, Virtual Infrastructure Management, Active IQ). It’s apparently getting confusing to understand which one to use for what.

For instance, do customers need different tools to manage cloud or on-prem resources? And which one should they use?

    • OnCommand Cloud Manager or NetApp Fabric Orchestrator to manage cloud resources?
    • OnCommand System Manager or ActiveIQ Unified Manager to manage on-prem ONTAP systems?

Pure1 is an intelligent data storage management and support tool, which is SaaS-based, allowing you to manage your arrays on-prem or Cloud Block Store instances from any browser or from the Pure1 Mobile App – with nothing extra to purchase, deploy, or maintain.

More Questions Come to Mind

In addition to the above questions, which are still very valid 12 months after James’ initial post, there are a few other concerning matters one should look at about NetApp.

All Flash Array Business

NetApp Q1FY20 earnings summary (6) highlights a -24% year over year annual run rate decline of their All Flash Array business; from $2.2B in Q1 FY19 to $1.7B in Q1 FY20. (7)
Does this mean that NetApp sales force has finished churning their installed base of spinning disks arrays and that they are less successful in gaining new customers?

In Q2FY20 Pure Storage announced a +24% year over year product revenue growth. Pure Storage is consistently gaining market share in enterprise storage over the last five years.

Quarterly Revenue Trend

The chart below depicts NetApp year over year quarterly revenue numbers for their last fiscal quarters. The trendline is definitely going in the wrong direction.

NetApp Insights: NetApp YoY Quarterly Decline

Source: (1)

At Pure we’ve been achieving +28% year over year growth in our most recent quarters, Q1 and Q2 FY20. This consistent growth will indeed help us in fueling our innovation and in investing in field people to be closer to even more customers and partners.

Research & Development (R&D) Investment

Talking about fueling our innovation, the chart below depicts the R&D investment as a percentage of revenue, comparing NetApp to Pure Storage.

NetApp Insight: % of Revenue Spent in R&D

Sources: NetApp FY19 Supplementary Commentary: revenue $6.15B, R&D $827M, = 13% (8)

Pure Storage FY19 Annual Report: revenue 1.359B, R&D 0.35B, = 26%

I can imagine readers are thinking: “Yeah, that’s a percentage comparison and the actual absolute number is bigger…”. Well, that’s actually correct, and the next question I would ask is:

How many products and solutions need these R&D dollars?

  • For NetApp, those R&D dollars appear to be over a myriad of hardware products, with 3 or 4 different operating systems and a myriad of software pieces and management tools. We wonder which NetApp product is getting the most investment, and which is least-funded? That’s a roadmap question customers should definitely ask. Even in Vegas, do you feel like rolling the dice with your storage infrastructure?
  • For us at Pure, we have a concise set of products (FlashArray™, FlashBlade™, Cloud Block Store™) all managed under one overarching management tool (Pure1®). Pure’s innovation is laser-focused on a new breed of storage technology embodying the simplicity of design and management of the iPhone, but the elastic scaling, web-based management and interconnected nature of the cloud.

Innovation does matter! Pure has been on this innovation journey for 10 years bringing this simplicity of design, ease of management and scale to our customers.

EMEA “Partner-Led” Countries

Being based in EMEA, I would also add to this list of concerning matters, the new “Partner-Led” Countries business model that NetApp has announced to their partners. The new business model became effective May 1, 2019, in Africa, Turkey, Eastern Europe, and most of the Nordics (except Sweden).

In these countries/regions, local distributors and partners have now to pick up all the tasks like sales, pre-sales and professional services, which were driven by NetApp people before.

Leaving the primary business responsibility to local distributors and reseller partners, with limited local support from a vendor, is the opposite of a partner-centric business model.

For existing customers in these regions, this also means minimal local and direct touch from the vendor they procured the technology from. They would have possibly made a different decision if they knew there would be no local presence from the vendor in their own country.

This article covers how some partners reacted to this announcement.

As a 100% channel-centric company, Pure Storage believes in one simple credo: the success of our partner is the success of Pure Storage. This means we train and support our partners and we don’t let them do the job alone! We support them locally wherever they are, in the largest as well as in the smallest countries we’re targeting around the world.

In the end…

If you are planning to go to Vegas next week, keep the above questions and concerning matters in mind. Try to get clarity on some of these points. If you are still unsure when you are back, do not hesitate to reach out to your Pure Storage value-added-partner or your Pure account team. We would be happy to share with you why, at Pure, we are investing in a Modern Data Experience and what we mean by “simple, seamless, and sustainable.”

I would suggest you also review some of the highlights from Pure//Accelerate that we hosted in Austin, TX, USA a couple of weeks ago.


(1) Powerful Program Helps You Evolve Your IT Technology: NetApp NextCredit

(2) https://www.netapp.com/pdf.html?item=/media/13482-tr4375pdf.pdf

(3) https://www.netapp.com/us/products/backup-recovery/metrocluster-bcdr.aspx

(4) https://docs.netapp.com/us-en/cloud-volumes-ontap/reference_limitations_94.html#disks-and-aggregates-must-be-managed-from-cloud-manager

(5) https://www.netapp.com/us/products/data-infrastructure-management/index.aspx

(6) https://www.netapp.com/us/media/earnings-summary-q1-fy20-627295.pdf

(7) https://www.netapp.com/us/media/earnings-summary-q1-fy19-548501.pdf

(8) http://investors.netapp.com