Tech Field Day 14 Primer: NetApp

Although not part of the initial announcement, NetApp stepped up to the challenge and will be joining us for Tech Field Day 14. I was quite happy to see them added to the list as they are a company that I have been following for a long time. Although I am no longer a customer of theirs, I do know that they have a lot of very smart people doing very cool things there.

A BIT OF HISTORY

NetApp n LogoFounded in 1992, NetApp has been around the block a few times. You don’t stay in business, especially in a market as competitive as network storage, without doing something right. NetApp is arguably best known for its Data ONTAP operating system, which runs on its filers. One of the key components to its success, however, is the Write Anywhere File Layout, or WAFL for short. Although WAFL is not a file system, it works closely with the file system and provides lots of performance benefits, including snapshot abilities.

In more recent times, NetApp acquired Solidfire in 2015 for $870 million cash. At the time Solidfire’s future was in question amongst a lot of pundits, but thus far both sides are still going strong. NetApp has integrated Solidfire offerings into its product line, but they have also been able to avoid forcing it into something that it is not. What I mean by that is all too often we see a company get gobbled up, cut apart, and then pushed into gaps that the purchaser was hoping to fill. That does not appear to be the case with Solidfire as they are still going strong and a lot of top talent is still there.

A SHIFT IN CULTURE

I’m not sure if it occurred due to the Solidfire acquisition, or if I only noticed it afterward, however, NetApp has definitely been a strong proponent of the DevOps movement. Back when I worked with ONTAP in the 7.3x days, there were basic tools available. Yes, I could run a script on the controller, but it was clunky to do. Yes, I could spin off cloned volumes or resize partitions, but it was mostly restricted to using the NetApp System Manager. A far cry from DevOps, that’s for sure.

An overview of NetApp's ONTAP Cloud edition. Image courtesy of netapp.com
An overview of NetApp’s ONTAP Cloud edition. Image courtesy of netapp.com

A lot of that has changed now though. NetApp has stretched their vision to include services such as AWS with their ONTAP Cloud offering. What once would require multiple clicks in a GUI that may or may not freeze up on you, can now be done in code. Once you make that transition, a lot of new doors are opened up: the process can be automated and expanded much easier, failure can now be accounted for via output, etc. The list goes on.

So where am I going with this? We’ve seen all too often where a behemoth of a company gets set in their way (Blackberry, I’m looking at you). Innovation without change leads to stagnation, and if a company isn’t growing, then it is dying. NetApp has thrown a ton of time and resources at DevOps (see some resources below) as they know that a lot of organizations are looking to improve internal workflows, and DevOps can be an answer to that.

A short list of NetApp-based DevOps resources:

Be sure to check out the live stream over at www.techfieldday.com on May 11th and 12th. We’ll be streaming live from Boston and be sure to use the #TFD14 hashtag on Twitter if you have a question for us to ask.

Disclaimer: I was invited to participate in Tech Field Day as a delegate. All of my expenses, including food, transportation, and lodging are being covered by Gestalt IT. I did not receive any compensation to write this post, nor was I requested to write this post. Anything written above was on my own accord.

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