Insight 2014 Unites NetApp Community
by Craig Jeske, on Nov 3, 2014 3:44:46 PM
GTRI is a NetApp Gold Partner. Recently we sent several attendees to the NetApp Insight engineering conference October 27-30 in Las Vegas.
This year for the first time I was personally invited to attend the NetApp TechExec forum. Nearly every manufacturer runs forums like this to gather insights from their top partners and it is not uncommon to see the same peers at them. When I walked in I ran into three of my counterparts at other solutions providers who were at the Cisco Partner Technical Advisory Board (PTAB) six weeks ago and one who was also at the VMware PTAB earlier in 2014. It is always exciting to get a chance to share experiences, both good and bad, with our fellow technical leaders from other companies. It serves as a wonderful opportunity to step away from competing against each other and leverage the vast wealth of knowledge and experiences to better us all.
NetApp also invited customers to the TechExec forum this year. It is common to have these advisory boards for both customers and partners, but it is not common to have us all in the same room. Even the NFL was represented as a very large user of NetApp, which provides consistent uptime and performance for their business critical applications.
The TechExec day started out with the regular keynote speech in the MGM Grand Garden Arena. With no Floyd Meriwether in sight, the stage was clear for the NetApp executives to lay out the foundation of their vision for the future. The most exciting thing for me on this day was the data fabric NetApp is releasing to the market. Starting with Amazon AWS, NetApp now supports a wide range of ways to move data around. From the on-premise NetApp gear at a customer’s private datacenter, to NetApp gear stored in a colocation facility next to AWS, Azure, or SoftLayer compute nodes, to the new ability to store your data in the AWS cloud via a virtual OnTap appliance.
NetApp laid out its vision of providing true flexibility to move on and off NetApp hardware, as well as on and off cloud providers without restriction, and being able to have full control over your company’s data regardless of where it needs to live based on application requirements. I have been to a LOT of keynotes over my career and I can honestly say this is the first time in quite a while that I was truly excited about the content.
Following the keynote the TechExec group headed off to a separate area of the conference center to continue in a more intimate setting. NetApp provided some very interesting (and unfortunately for this blog post, confidential) information on the direction the company is taking its products. Speakers ranged from product managers, to their CTO, CIO, and several Vice Presidents. NetApp founder Dave Hitz also stopped by and gave an excellent update on the corporate vision for growth.
In addition to inviting its customers to the TechExec forum, NetApp also opened Insight to customers this year, giving them the opportunity to attend and receive the same training previously only available to NetApp employees and partners. This is no small statement from a major manufacturer on how NetApp views their customers as part of the team, not as an external community.
Insight 2014 provided the robust ecosystem of NetApp engineers, partners, customers and a cross-section of executive leaders all in one place to collaborate. The knowledge sharing from the technical to the visionary was amazing. I can’t wait for Insight 2015 to continue the trend of increasing collaboration between NetApp’s community of customers and partners.