Tuesday, November 4, 2014

NetApp Insight 2014!!

Oh boy, what a week it has been. We just finished wrapping up NetApp Insight 2014 and it has been a blast! It was a whirlwind of information, learning, social activities, and hanging out with some AWESOME people. Oh, did I also mention how awesome the people were?


And when I say people, I mean everyone. This was the first year that the event was open to customers and the response was amazing. I spoke with a few and they all agreed that this was one of the best conferences they have been to. What really blew my mind, was seeing different partners getting together and talking with customers to help them solve their problems. There wasn't a "don't talk to my customer" feeling or anything like that. NetApp, partners, vendors, and customers all working together to solve problems the way things should be.

It was great to put some faces to Twitter handles also. I follow a ton of people from NetApp and their partners and customers and to actually meet these people in person was amazing. Thanks to Pete Flecha for totally making me feel like a rock star. I was walking down the hall and he walked by, recognized me from my Twitter picture and called me out. It was great meeting him and getting a chance to sit and talk.

The NetApp A-Team rocked the convention with Twitter chats (check out the great stats we generated) and interviews with Forbes NetApp Voice crew. And we were honored when so many great people came out to see who we are and what we'er about at the meet and greet NetApp hosted for use.

The NetApp A-Team

Hanging out with Jay Kidd
I know I've said this before, but I'm honored to be a part of such an amazing group of people. We come from different backgrounds and we have different personalities but we've formed these amazing friendships and working relationships through our passion for NetApp. I'm really excited to see how this group progresses and what kind of impact we can have over the next year. And special thanks to Samantha Moulton for keeping us all in line. We would not be the awesome group we are without her.

Cisco and NetApp have also proven that their relationship and their collaboration is top tier. FlexPod has been an outstanding success and within 5 years Cisco UCS has become #1 in x86 blade servers in the US and #2 in the world. Both companies also showed commitment to the product by expanding the FlexPod offerings to include the new UCS mini as well as a UCS design for cloud operations. I was able to hang out at the Cisco booth for a while and was thrilled to meet Amy Lewis and watched part of the filming for . So much fun and loved talking with the Cisco people. I was even able to snap a photo of myself and Rob Lloyd!!

Able to snap a pic with Rob Lloyd
Lets talk cloud. There are so many cloud offerings out there that use their own unique configurations. This makes trying to get from one cloud to another is difficult, and trying to get that data back to the main site isn't easy, either. NetApp wants to position itself to offer data management services that look and feel the same. They talked about how cloud offerings now are very much like islands. There are only so many out there and each have their own standards, UI, workflows, and automation tools. NetApp sees a cloud system where all the workflows and management processes are the same and it's just as easy to get data out as it is to get it back in. With that in mind they announced Cloud ONTAP. Cloud ONTAP will live on top of Amazon Web Services and will provide the user with the same look and feel as any FAS they currently have.
There was so much announced at Insight this year that I won't be able to cover everything here. Here is a short list of the stuff that interested me:

  1. NetApp and Cisco continue their strong relationship with the FlexPod architecture. Rob Lloyd gave an amazing keynote on Tuesday to talk about the future of datacenter, FlexPod, and how that will work within the key themes of collaboration and cloud. As a network guy in a storage world, I'm so glad to see the close relationship that these two amazing companies have forged around some amazing products and solutions.

  2. Acquisition of Riverbed SteelStore product. This was formally Whitewater and from their website: "SteelStore accelerates cloud on ramp by deduplicating, encrypting, and rapidly streaming data to the cloud, leveraging technology from the industry's leading WAN optimization solution." What does this mean for NetApp? This is an interesting acquisition and will require some further reading to fully understand. But they said that it would be integrated into the FAS line and work with cloud based SnapVault backups. I'm going to write something on this as I get more information.

  3. Cluster Data ONTAP 8.3 which will include the long awaited MetroCluster features for uninterrupted backup and recovery options as well as increased overall storage capacity and larger flash support.

  4. Cloud ONTAP was announced to provided ONTAP on top of AWS. This will allow the user to dynamically spin up an instance of ONTAP in AWS through either pay-as-you-go access or a license. If you want to test moving data around or look at cloud as an option, the pay-as-you-go route is a great way to give it a try. Cloud ONTAP also helps users not only get data into the cloud, but back out as well.
As you can see, this was a huge week for NetApp. There was a ton of information covered during the keynote and lots that was explored during the sessions that followed. NetApp has shown that Insight is a premier conference for partners and now customers, too, and that they'er on the leading edge in technology innovations. For more recap information please check out the NetApp Communities Podcast from Nick Howell and listen to the daily recaps they did. Chris Maki wrote a great post on ONTAP 8.3, so go check that out here.

As always, thanks for reading. Let me know in the comments what you thought was the best bit at NetApp Insight 2014. Or if you didn't make it, feel free to ask any questions and lets hope we see you there next year!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A much needed change of scenery...

This will be the first of a couple of posts this week. The next one that I'm going to do is on NetApp Insight 2014, so keep an eye out for that. (So much fun!!)

I'm going to keep this short and simple. For anyone who follows me, you may have noticed I have updated a bunch of profiles now (amazing how many social networks we all belong to that have to get updated) to say I work for Accenture.

I loved working for Dynamix Group. They are a great company and a great partner, but I was on the road more then I wanted to be. My son has gotten to the age where he knows I'm no longer around and that stress was harder then I thought it would be to take. So, I found a job at Accenture doing network infrastructure and SAN infrastructure.

How does this change my social commitments? It won't. I'm still a proud serving member of the NetApp community and will continue to post and update on their plans and help out where I can. Accenture is a huge NetApp partner and supporter <Accenture Alliance> so I'm hoping at some point to get into their FlexPod implementation section. As for now, I'm on a long term project focused mainly on Network and SAN, so expect to see more posts on that coming up as well.

This is a change, but I think it's for the best. I'm really excited about the direction that I am going within the NetApp community and hoping for more within the Cisco community.  Keep an eye out for tons more info as I really ramp up my blog.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Confessions of a NetApp Advocate

My name is Jesse, and I’m a NetApp Advocate. What does it mean to be a NetApp Advocate? It means I talk about NetApp so much someone at NetApp noticed and gave me a title. My company is a relatively new NetApp partner, so I actually find myself in the interesting position of advocating for NetApp not only with our customers, but with our internal teams as well. 

Everyone always wants to know why I like NetApp so much. And the answer for me is really simple. It comes down to three things: Innovation, Service and Support, and Culture, which all work together to deliver solutions that are good for our customers, and great for our relationships with those customers.

1. Innovation
NetApp is constantly pushing the boundaries of what we can do on the storage platform. And as a NetApp partner, we gain a huge advantage by leveraging the entire range of products in the NetApp portfolio to solve our customers’ problems. As we continue to grow our partnership with NetApp, these are a few of the products I’m most excited about introducing to our customers:

  • EF550 Flash Array: With massive amounts of throughput and high IOPS, the EF550 flash array is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition in terms of performance, reliability, and speed. NetApp has been innovating in flash longer than many of its competitors, and few others can come close to the IOPS or performance of NetApp’s EF550 or FAS8000 series systems. And unlike flash offerings from other enterprise storage vendors, NetApp doesn’t nickel and dime you for extra features and functionality—it all comes in the box.
  • FAS8000: The FAS systems are one of the main reasons I choose NetApp time and again. You can do so much more on a FAS system than you can with similar products from other vendors. You want file based storage? Carve out an aggregate. You want block storage? Carve out another aggregate. To get the same functionality from other vendors, you’d need multiple devices with different licenses. FAS is all about simplicity, versatility, and efficiency—everything our customers love.
  • E-Series: At Dynamix we do a lot of E-Series because it’s great block storage. It’s easy to use, and dynamic disk pools are a cool thing. Another NetApp Advocate, Brian Mitchell (aka @NetAppGeek), wrote about the E5500’s impressive 12GB/s of sustained bandwidth and up to 400,000 sustained IOPS, as well as its unique performance boost called "Software XOR". You can read more about it on his blog, Geek ONTAP. Bottom line is it works really, really well, and NetApp sells a lot of it. How much? I borrowed this image from one of Brian’s Tweets which I think says it all:
  • Clustered Data ONTAP: It’s easy to see why Data ONTAP is as popular as it is. And the latest releases of clustered Data ONTAP give you even more features that let you do more with less. Deduplication is a huge bonus to any environment, and support for multiple protocols like FC, FCoE, iSCSI, NFS, and SMB/CIFS on a single unit makes it very flexible for customers. It’s the ultimate no-downtime, scale-out and scale-up architecture.

2. Service and Support
A lot of people underestimate the value of support. When you buy a piece of equipment today, you could have it for the next 3-5 years. So you want to be sure you’re partnered with someone that’s going to be easy to work with and willing to help you get the most out of your investment over time. 

You don’t want to have to call different numbers for hardware and software for every single product. You don’t want to have to jump through hoops or transfer case numbers. You just want to talk to the person who knows your environment inside and out. 

My recent experience with NetApp Support was phenomenal. I called about an E-Series product that didn’t have support enabled yet, and the person I called helped me anyway. Within an hour we had the issue resolved and the system was up and running. No shenanigans. 

3. Culture
A great company with a great culture uses the success of its technology and its influence to do good in the world. When NetApp asked me to shave my head to help fight childhood cancer, I didn’t have to think twice. Earlier this year I joined the other NetApp Advocates to participate in the NetApp Boston St. Baldrick’s event. The St. Baldrick's Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity dedicated to raising money for life-saving childhood cancer research and funds more in childhood cancer grants than any organization except for the U.S. government. Over the years NetApp has raised nearly six million dollars for St. Baldrick’s, and the NetApp Advocate Team is proud of the $5,500 contribution we added to this year’s pot.

Here’s a group photo of some of the other advocates and yours truly sporting freshly shaved heads:
360group.pngLeft to right:  Adam Bergh (@ajbergh), Ryan Beaty (@rnbeaty), Chris Maki (@ChrisMaki) and me (@sockeyes51)

A great company also brings in great people to work with them—not just for them. The best thing about being a NetApp Advocate is that I get to meet a variety of NetApp customers, partners, and internal experts who are willing and eager to share their storage expertise. I’ve learned so much from my fellow advocates. (By the way, we call ourselves the A-Team – cool, right?) They’re all out there on Twitter, and some of them even have their own blogs where you can read their take on the latest technologies. There’s a Twitter list that makes it easy to check them out if you’re interested.

Now I know what you’re thinking: Have I been drinking the Kool-Aid or what? Well, maybe. Who doesn’t like grape Kool-Aid, after all? But for the record, I don't get anything for pushing NetApp over any other product line. My company doesn't pay me any more or less for anything I recommend, NetApp doesn't give me anything for my participation, and I know my wife is tired of hearing about it.  I advocate for NetApp because I believe in its products and its people, period.

What are some of the reasons you like working with or for NetApp? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cisco Live 2014

Well, I survived my first trip to Cisco Live. What an amazing show for sure. But I have to say I was a little overwhelmed with the amount of people and in some cases the amount of information. There were over 25,000 people out at Live this year and all of them were looking to get the most of of their trip. What was interesting about live is the depth of people that go out there. Cisco has such a broad range of products that you meet people that don't know what or how you do say Data Center or Storage but are masters at Voice or Wireless technologies. It's really nice to find a group that are so different and yet very passionate about what they do and all brought together through a single vendor.

So lets to a quick recap of the hot topics this week. I counted at least three that were pretty much everywhere.