Taking a grown-up look at cloud – Matt Watts – Ep77

Cloud is not new, I don’t think that’s news to anyone, many of us have deployed a cloud solution, be it a SaaS platform, some public cloud infrastructure or some VM’s for test and dev, cloud continues to play a major part in IT strategy for an ever-increasing amount of businesses.

However, this move to cloud has not come without us learning an awful lot on the way. We’ve probably all heard of, or maybe even been involved with, cloud deployments that have not gone as we expected, the technology hasn’t given us what we want, the commercials didn’t stand up to our calculations, or it just wouldn’t work in the way our on-premises platform did. Many of the issues that have led to those poor cloud experiences have been driven by an “immaturity” to our approach, often too quick to dictate a cloud first strategy, regardless of whether cloud is, in reality, the way to go.

Is our approach to cloud beginning to change? have we got, or do we need to consider our cloud strategy a little differently?

That’s the question we ask on this weeks podcast, an episode inspired by a fantastic article written by my guest Matt Watts, Director of Technology and Strategy, EMEA at NetApp. In the article Matt posed the question Are you Cloud First! or Cloud First? And the difference a bit of punctuation can make, you can read the article here.

I thought the topic he covered in the article and the question he raised were worthy of further investigation and that’s what we do on this weeks show.

During the show we discuss the article in depth, we start out looking at what drove Matt to write the article and the importance of understanding the difference between a strategy and a mandate. We also look at examples of mistakes that people originally made that have meant we’ve needed to start to change our approach.

We talk about the issues that are created by taking on-prem solutions and “dumping” them “as is” into the cloud without asking the question “is there any value in doing this?” and how this drives bad practice in cloud adoption. We also coin the phrase “there is no zealot like a technology zealot!”.

We also explore the idea that cloud adoption isn’t about cost savings, so if it’s not that, why do we want to adopt cloud?

We wrap up looking at examples of building a more mature cloud strategy and how this has worked well, Matt shares some examples of how NetApp’s own internal cloud maturity has driven their own internal decision making. Matt’s final thought is how, without an appropriate and mature cloud strategy, you run the risk building yourself a whole new set of silo’s and limitations.

Matt, as always, shares some fascinating insight into cloud strategy. To find out more from Matt you can check out his other blogs on his watts-innovating site. You can also follow Matt on twitter @mtjwatts.

Next week we get an update on the innovations and developments in VMware Cloud on AWS, until then, thanks for listening.

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The State of the data nation – Howard Marks – Ep70

A couple of times a year I like to do a show that reviews the current state of the data market, the chance to take a check on the challenges facing both the makers and consumers of data technology, how they are been addressed, the technology changes and trends that decisions makers should consider and what the future holds for the industry.

I always think these shows are useful for those who are tasked with making strategic decisions and designing data platforms for their businesses, I know when I speak with people on these topics it’s always useful to understand current market thinking and the general direction that the technology vendors are taking.

Earlier this year I spoke with industry analyst Chris Evans as we looked ahead at what 2018 had in-store (you can find that episode here). For this half year review, I was very fortunate to get some time with renowned industry analyst Howard Marks.

Howard is founder and Chief Scientist at DeepStroage.net as well as co-host of the excellent Greybeards on storage podcast. With over 30 years’ experience as a consultant and writer on the storage industry he is very well placed to comment on the current state of the market and its direction.

In episode 70 of Tech Interviews, I chat with Howard about a range of topics. We discuss the current rate of change of the industry and is it the rate or amount of change that’s concerning us?

We look at the impact cloud is having and how much of a driver to change it is, Howard shares some thoughts on Software as a Service (SaaS) and its impact on traditional roles.

We examine in more detail changing roles, how storage admins need to be in charge of “data paranoia” and we ask if simplification is a good thing? and why cloud simplicity doesn’t sit well with organisational complexity.

We end our show looking ahead, what Howard would like to see the storage industry tackle, why a focus on data management will be key and the impact that storage class memory is going to have on both producers of and consumers of technology.

Howard shares some fantastic insights and left me with a lot of food for thought. I am sure he will you too.

To find out more about what Howard does, you can visit DeepStroage.net follow Howard on twitter @DeepStorageNet and if you deal with data and want to understand the data technology market then get the Greybeards podcast on your listening playlist, you’ll find it here.

Thanks for listening.

Don’t forget me and Mrs Techstringy are taking on the Prudential Ride London event for the Marie Curie charity in the UK to help support their work in delivering end of life care, if you can help and support us, it would be much appreciated, you can find our story here.

Wrapping up VeeamON – Michael Cade – Ep 66

A couple of weeks ago in Chicago Veeam had their annual tech conference VeeamON, it was one of my favourite shows from last year, unfortunately I couldn’t make it out this time but did catch up remotely and shared my thoughts on some of the strategic messages that where covered in a recent blog post looking at Veeam’s evolving data management strategy ( Getting your VeeamON!).

That strategic Veeam message is an interesting one and their shift from031318_0833_Availabilit2.jpg “backup” company to one focused on intelligent data management across multiple repositories is, in my opinion, exactly the right move to be making. With that in mind, I wanted to take a final look at some of those messages as well as some of the other interesting announcements from the show and that is exactly what we do on this week’s podcast, as I’m joined by recurring Tech Interviews guest, Michael Cade, Global Technologist at Veeam.

Michael, who not only attended the show but also delivered some great sessions, joins me to discuss a range of topics. We start by taking a look at Veeam’s last 12 months and how they’ve started to deliver a wider range of capabilities which builds on their virtual platform heritage with support for more traditional enterprise platforms.

Michael shares some of the thinking behind Veeam’s goal to deliver an availability platform to meet the demands of modern business data infrastructures, be they on-prem, in the cloud, SaaS or service provider based. We also look at how this platform needs to offer more than just the ability to “back stuff up”

We discuss the development of Veeam’s 5 pillars of intelligent data management, a key strategic announcement from the show and how this can be used as a maturity model against which you can compare your own progress to a more intelligent way of managing your data.

We look at the importance of automation in our future data strategies and how this is not only important technically, but also commercially as businesses need to deploy and deliver much more quickly than before.

We finish up by investigating the value of data labs and how crucial the ability to get more value from your backup data is becoming, be it to carry out test, dev, data analytics or a whole range of other tasks without impacting your production platforms or wasting the valuable resource in your backup data sets.

Finally, we take a look at some of the things we can expect from Veeam in the upcoming months.

You can catch up on the event keynote on Veeam’s YouTube channel https://youtu.be/ozNndY1v-8g

You can also find more information on the announcements on Veeam’s website here www.veeam.com/veeamon/announcements

If you’d like to catch up with thoughts from the Veeam Vanguard team, you can find a list of them on twitter – https://twitter.com/k00laidIT/lists/veeam-vanguards-2018

You can follow Michael on twitter @MichaelCade1 and on his excellent blog https://vzilla.co.uk/

Thanks for listening.

NetApp Winning Awards, Whatever Next?

WP_20160518_07_53_57_Rich_LI.jpgIn the last couple of weeks I’ve seen NetApp pick up a couple of industry awards with the all flash A200 earing the prestigious Storage Review Editors Choice as well as CRN UK’s storage Vendor of the year 2017, this alongside commercial successes (How NetApp continue to defy the performance of the storage market) is part of a big turnaround in their fortunes over the last 3 years or so, but why? What is NetApp doing to garner such praise?

A bit of disclosure, as a Director at a long-term NetApp Partner, Gardner Systems, and a member of the NetApp A-Team advocacy programme, I could be biased, but having worked with NetApp for over 10 years, I still see them meeting our customers’ needs better than any other vendor, which in itself, also suggests NetApp are doing something right.

What is it they’re doing? In this post, I share some thoughts on what I believe are key parts of this recent success

Clear Strategy

If we wind the clock back 4 years, NetApp’s reputation was not at its best, tech industry analysts presented a bleak picture, the storage industry was changing, with public cloud storage and innovative start-ups offering to do more than those “legacy” platforms and in many cases, they could, NetApp were a dinosaur on the verge of extinction.

Enter the Data Fabric, first announced at NetApp’s technical conference, Insight, in 2014. Data Fabric was the beginning of NetApp’s move from a company focussed on storing data to a company focused on the data itself. This was significant as it coincided with a shift in how organisations viewed data, moving away from just thinking about storing data to managing, securing, analysing and gaining value from it.

NetApp’s vision for data fabric, closely aligned to the aims of more data focussed organisations and also changed the way they thought about their portfolio, less worried about speeds and feeds and flashing lights and more about how to build a strategy that was focussed on data in the way their customers were.

It is this data-driven approach that, in my opinion, has been fundamental in this change in NetApp’s fortunes.

Embrace the Cloud

A huge shift and something that is taking both customers and industry analysts by surprise is the way NetApp have embraced the cloud, not a cursory nod, but cloud as a fundamental part of the data fabric strategy and this goes way beyond “cloudifying” existing technology.

ONTAP Cloud seamlessly delivers the same data services and storage efficiencies into the public cloud as you get with its on-prem cousin, this provides a unique ability to maintain data policies and procedures across your on-prem and cloud estates.

But NetApp has gone beyond this, delivering native cloud services that don’t require any traditional NetApp technologies, Cloud Sync, allows the easy movement of data from on-prem NFS datastores into the AWS cloud. While Cloud Control provides a backup service for Office365 (and now Salesforce) bringing crucial data protection functionality that many SaaS vendors do not provide.

If that wasn’t enough there is the recently announced relationship with Microsoft, with NetApp now powering the Azure NFS service, yep that’s right, if you take the NFS service from the Azure marketplace this is delivered fully in the background by NetApp.

For a storage vendor, this cloud investment is unexpected, but a clear cloud strategy is also appealing to those making business technology decisions.

Getting the basics right

With these developments, it’s clear NetApp have a strategy and are expanding their portfolio into areas other storage vendors do not consider, but there is also no escaping that their main revenue generation continues to come from ONTAP and FAS (NetApp’s hardware platform).

If I’m buying a hardware platform, what do I want from it? It should be robust with strong performance and a good investment that evolves with my business and if NetApp’s commercial success is anything to go by, they are delivering this.

The all-flash NetApp platforms (such as the award winning A200 mentioned earlier) are meeting this need, a robust enterprise-level platform, allowing organisations to build an always-on storage infrastructure that scales seamlessly with new business demands. 6-year flash drive warranties and the ability to refresh your controllers after 3 years also give excellent investment protection.

It is not just the hardware however, these platforms are driven by software, NetApp’s ONTAP operating systems is like any other modern software platform, with regular code drops (every 6 months) delivering new features and improved performance to existing hardware via a non-disruptive software upgrade, providing businesses with the ability to “sweat” their hardware investment over an extended period, which in today’s investment sensitive market is hugely appealing.

Have an interesting portfolio

NetApp for a long time was the FAS and ONTAP company, and while those things are still central in their plans, their portfolio is expanding quickly, we’ve discussed the cloud focussed services, there’s also Solidfire with its unique scale and QoS capabilities, Storage Grid a compelling object storage platform, Alta Vault provides a gateway to move backup and archive data into object storage on-prem or in the cloud.

Add to this the newly announced HCI platform you can see how NetApp can play a significant part in your next-generation datacenter plans.

For me the awards I mentioned at the beginning of this article are not because of one particular solution or innovation, it’s the data fabric, that strategy is allowing NetApp, its partners and customers to have a conversation that is data and not technology focussed and having a vendor who understands that is clearly resonating with customers, analysts and industry influencers alike.

NetApp’s continued evolution is fascinating to watch, and they have more to come, with no doubt more awards to follow, whatever next!

IT Avengers Assemble – Part One – Ep38

This weeks Tech Interviews is the first in a short series, where I bring together a selection of people from the IT community to try to gauge the current state of business IT and to gain some insight into the key day-to-day issues affecting those delivering technology to their organisations.

For this first episode i’m joined by three returning guests to the show.

Mich040317_0726_Availabilit1.jpgael Cade is a Technical Evangelist at Veeam. Michael spends his time working closely with both the IT community and Veeam’s business customers to understand the day-to-day challenges that they face from availability to cloud migration.

You can find Michael on twitter @MichaelCade1 and his blog at vzilla.co.uk 

mike andrews

Mike Andrews is a Technical Solutions Architect at storage vendor NetApp, specialising in NetApp’s cloud portfolio, today Mike works closely with NetApp’s wide range of customers to explore how to solve the most challenging of business issues.

You can find Mike on social media on twitter @TrekinTech and on his blog site trekintech.com

Mark CarltonMark Carlton is Group Technical Manager at Concorde IT Group, he has an extensive experience in the industry having worked in a number of different types of technology businesses, today Mark works closely with a range of customers helping them to use technology to solve business challenges.

Mark is on twitter @mcarlton1983 and at his fantastically titled justswitchitonandoff.com blog.

The panel discuss a range of issues, from availability to cloud migration, the importance of the basics and how understanding the why, rather than the how is a crucial part of getting your technology strategy right.

The team provide some excellent insights into a whole range of business IT challenges and I’m sure there’s some useful advice for everyone.

Next time I’m joined by four more IT avengers, as we look at some of the other key challenges facing business IT.

If you enjoyed the show and want to catch the next one, then please subscribe, links are below.

Thanks for listening.

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