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More businesses globally are shifting towards mobile-based services from the traditional model. This means the shift of processes and data on the cloud, often resulting in better customer experience. While the emergence of cloud-based storage service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure or Google has 'disrupted' the market for IT companies, global storage firm NetApp believes not every business information will move to the cloud. In an interview with Ayan Pramanik, Mark Bregman, chief technology officer, NetApp, speaks about customers’ increasing demand for flexibility, how Indian talent and partners will add to global delivery, and new partners in the offing.
You said that people are realising Netapp is more than just a storage company. What do you mean by that?
Storage remains important, but the real value is in the customers’ data. Frankly, our focus is shifting beyond storage to include data management and helping customers understand between on-premise and cloud. We are kind of moving up the value chain, closer to the value of the data as opposed to just the storage of the data. We have been moving a lot of our capabilities into the cloud. We have our ONTAP cloud solution, which provides storage capabilities both on-premise and on the public cloud. For example, within Amazon Web Services (AWS) the customers can use ONTAP and it gives them the benefit data compression, efficiency and data management.
When it comes to the transformation of physical storage to cloud, there are companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and others. Do you expect them to disrupt your market in the near future?
In some sense companies such as Amazon, Microsoft has already disrupted the storage market by just their existence. If you go back a few years and ask somebody at NetApp, the person would say it is bad, it is enemy! If you ask somebody today, the answer would be just opposite. They would say the cloud is equally good and in some cases they are better product suites than the traditional storage. We also believe that contrary to some of the cloud vendors' belief, we do not think all the information is going to go on the cloud. There will be some data which will stay within the data centres probably forever, because it is more suitable, perhaps highly proprietary data and need access on a real-time basis. That is why we are focused on hybrid cloud. There are three dimensions to the hybrid cloud. One of them is that data will be both on-premise and on the cloud. But equally important is that it is not going to be with only one cloud vendor. We see more and more customers saying that they will use the cloud but they want both Microsoft and AWS, not one or the other. Therefore, we need to manage the flexibility.
A few analysts claim that the data movement to cloud at NetApp is not yet there? What is your take on that?
I would say it is real. I do not have the latest numbers. We have thousands of customers who are using ONTAP (a hybrid cloud product) cloud and hundreds of terabytes of data on the cloud. It is certainly true that at the beginning customers were testing it but now we have many customers moved on to true production solutions using ONTAP. On top of the cloud, they can have basic storage capability as well.
How do you plan to take your journey forward in India apart from the startup collaboration?
A: We have about 2,000 engineers and they are mostly focused on global products. But they can also work with local sales teams in the case of either working with local partners or understanding the local market conditions so that we can utilize our technologies in the local market effectively. I do not think we will build a lot of very specialised local products for India or for any market. We will work with local partners to customise them. I think the work (of getting into partnerships in India) is getting started. It is early stage. We have started the cohorts only early September.