I watched this NetApp presentation “The Death of the Specialized Admin with Andy Banta” from a recent Storage Field Day.
What strikes me about this presentation is that NetApp is not in touch with the future and that they barely realise it.
The basic principle is that dedicated storage admin is going away. Andy Banta explains that technology transitions and details, so I won’t cover them here. In the data centre, hyperconverged & converged infrastructure systems are set to displace to custom hardware storage arrays relatively quickly. Who wants to own a mainframe-style storage systems when there is a whitebox style storage array that can deliver 80% of the function for 20% of the cost.
This cost saving isn’t in the storage assets, its in the removal of administration time. You don’t need humans with arcane and (largely pointlesss) skills to add more capacity, rack a suitable server and the upgrade is well under way. The same process is occurring with data centre networking where we can see that converged system included the network switches and operations as part of the platform.
This transition has been obvious for a number of years. Nutanix & others have built substantial businesses by replacing storage arrays with distributed servers and funnelling development into storage operations. How can NetApp be presenting on these ideas in 2017 ? I’m no storage expert but is this silo so behind the curve that this is new ? I’m sure we finished these conversations in 2014/2015 time frame and NetApp is still presenting them as new.
As we reach the cusp of 2018, NetApp should not be talking about its latest Solidfire storage arrays, or the simplification of their product. They should be laying out a vision for self-disruption to enter distributed storage market. Yes, the storage silo is deeply resistant to change and array-huggers are the normal but the next generation of admins have little brand loyalty or belief that vendors like NetApp know what needs to be done.
Oh, I’m not predicting the end of NetApp or storage arrays but they are on the mainframe path to irrelevant purpose in my view.