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NetApp addresses the unknown data storage problem

NetApp's ongoing focus will be to help break down silos, which the company's Australian vice president Steve Manley says businesses are unknowingly creating as they move their data into the cloud.

NetApp Australia vice president Steve Manley has acknowledged that while businesses are making the right decision by moving into the cloud, he said they are not taking into account how data storage will be managed, and that is causing a problem.

Speaking to ZDNet, Manley explained businesses are not aware data storage management in the cloud will end up creating silos -- much similar to the silos that existed within the traditional infrastructures they are moving away from.

"My biggest frustration ... is that the biggest problem [CIOs] are going to get hit in the face with is a massive data management problem, because it's the last thing they're looking at as they transition into the cloud," he said.

Manley argued the solution on how to avoid this déjà vu situation is to have a data fabric strategy, something in which NetApp has been pushing for the last few years, and was reinforced recently by NetApp's newly-appointed CEO George Kurian.

Manley said there are CIOs who are recognising that siloed data management in the cloud is becoming a problem. He said the characteristics of these CIOs are those who are open to embracing new technologies, such as the team over at ING Direct, a key NetApp customer, or are part of businesses that were early adopters of cloud.

"CIOs are starting to realise that you need to think about how you manage your data between on-prem, off-prem, bimodal. What they haven't put front of mind is how do you do that across providers, and that comes back to breaking silos," he said.

To that problem, Manley said NetApp is working through a "very warm and good collaboration" with cloud providers such as Amazon and Microsoft Azure to help businesses break down these silos, even though "it's not in everyone's interest to have those conversations".

Ultimately for NetApp, Manley said the motivation is to help customers, even if that means moving customer data off its platform because the return on investment would be eventually greater.

"We have to identify what our customers are trying to do and how do we help them on that journey. If that means pushing out data to a hyperscaler and it comes off our platform then that's my job to get it on the right cost medium.

"But while I'm doing that I'm building a trust with my customer. This is only one of the things we're trying to solve, so we'll inherently get better at other things and we'll monetise that, too."

This is despite the fact that NetApp is a company that has not achieved positive revenue growth for the last six quarters. But to that point, Manley hinted that the company expects to be able to report positive growth soon, saying that in the Australia and New Zealand region alone, the company's headcount has grown by 10 percent since the start of the 2016 financial year.

"Last year saw huge adoption of this technology in the ANZ market. This market is absolutely a great indicator of where our industry is heading so it doesn't surprise us that this will be adopted here first and then in other [regions]," he said.