Behind the Scenes: Episode 131 – NetApp at Storage Field Day 15

Welcome to the Episode 131, part of the continuing series called “Behind the Scenes of the NetApp Tech ONTAP Podcast.”


This week on the podcast, we chat with the founder of Gestalt IT, Stephen Foskett and NetApp A-Team member/Storage Field Day 15 delegate, Glenn Dekhayser of Red8. We talk about what Tech Field Day is and how NetApp’s presentations were received.

Check out the recaps of NetApp’s Tech Field Day & Storage Field Day presentations, and for more information about Tech Field Day, visit

Finding the Podcast

The podcast is all finished and up for listening. You can find it on iTunes or SoundCloud or by going to

This week’s episode is here:

Also, if you don’t like using iTunes or SoundCloud, we just added the podcast to Stitcher.

I also recently got asked how to leverage RSS for the podcast. You can do that here:

Our YouTube channel (episodes uploaded sporadically) is here:

Storage Field Day 9 at NetApp! – Live Blog

Check out all the SFD9 presentations at NetApp here:

I was lucky enough to be invited to sit in on the Storage Field Day 9 here at NetApp headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA. The idea was to have me here to document, as well as rolling it all up into a podcast later.

This is NetApp’s first Storage Field Day in several years, and it’s my opinion that it’s long overdue. Tim Waldron, the Strategic Marketing Technical Lead at NetApp (@timwaldron) put this all together, as he feels that having industry influencers in to listen to our story and kick the tires a bit goes a long way towards building a solid perception to go along with what already is a solid technical story. Giving direct access to NetApp leaders offers the chance to eliminate guesswork by influencers and clear up any misconceptions that have been floating around. (Or, FUD.)

For this blog post, I’ll be live blogging the event! Keep checking back throughout the day for updates.

The Roster

The NetApp presenters include:

  • Dave Hitz – Executive VP of NetApp (@DaveHitz)
  • Joe CaraDonna – Sr. Technical Director, Cloud Services Group
  • Dave Wright – VP and General Manager, SolidFire (@jungledave)

In addition to myself and Tim, we also have a number of other NetApp representatives on-hand to answer questions.

  • Val Bercovici – Cloud Czar (@valb00)
  • John Fullbright – Principal Technical Architect
  • Jeramiah Dooley – Systems Engineer, SolidFire (@jdooley_clt)
  • Andy Grimes – Principal Architect for Flash (@Andy_NTAP_Flash)
  • Andy Banta – Storage Janitor, SolidFire (@andybanta)
  • The list of influencers include:

The list of tech influencers:

Live Blog

3/16/16 – 9AM

I’m here early. I’m still on East Coast time. I flew in yesterday and got here around 6:30PM local time.

They are setting up the table here in the cafeteria.

3/16/16 – 9:45AM

We’re supposed to start soon. People are going to be arriving in a bit. The breakfast table is set. It looks a little last-supper-y. But I’m sure it’ll be fine.

3/16/16 – 9:55AM

UPDATE: I’m an idiot. SFD not in the cafe. It’s in a conference room. Migrated there. All is right in the world.

Foskett is currently laying down the ground rules for SFD9.

 3/16/16 – 10AM

We are LIVE! MC Foskett is laying the framework of what we’ll be doing.

If you want to watch live:

A rough agenda:

  • Tim Waldron does intro
  • The Daves (Hitz and Wright) own the room
  • Joe CaraDonna keeps the party going
  • Tim Waldron closes it out

3/16/16 – 10:05AM

Hitz is up.

He promises not to predict the future. Good decision.

Now he’s talking transformation here at NetApp. Part of the transformation is about controlling costs, spending smarter. I’m on board with that.

Drops a nice quote: “The future is already here.”

Video here:

3/16/16 – 10:11AM

Howard Marks spilled his coffee. A bad omen?  3/16/16 – 10:13AM

Hitz is touting the impressive growth rate of NetApp’s flash story. ($600 mil run rate!)

He’s also calling out the notion that SolidFire means the end of this successful business.

3/16/16 – 10:14AM

Chris Evans is asking a nice question regarding the architecture decisions for the NetApp flash story.

Hitz hints that it’s a strategy that’s timing based. Flash prices dropping were the driving factor in the re-direct.

Success blinding us to the reality of the market.

3/16/16 – 10:16AM

Tape hasn’t died. It’s the cockroach of the data center.

Scott Lowe also doesn’t think disk is dead (yet). I agree with him. Still a place for it. I mean, WE STILL HAVE TAPE.

3/16/16 – 10:18AM

We are at the precipice of all flash. Where does it go from here?

Hitz says the E-Series is a hot race car with no windshield. Made for speed. Want a windshield? Get a helmet.

AFF is more of a jack of all trades flash solution.

Commodity hardware, web scaling with SolidFire.

3/16/16 – 10:21AM

Hitz answers another Chris Evans question regarding if we are really in an All-Flash market.

Compares it to manual vs. automatic transmissions. Full disclosure: I only buy manual transmissions.

Howard Marks opinion: Parts used to build the storage doesn’t define the market. The applications do.

3/16/16 – 10:25AM


Cloud fears:

  • Is it safe?
  • Is it legal? (HIPAA, safe harbor)
  • Will I be locked in?

Hitz talks about lunch with Edward Snowden (via robot a la Big Bang Theory):


Asked the hard hitting questions like: Did you have data on NetApp? 🙂

Now talking NetApp Private Storage, AltaVault, Data Fabric story. 5 bucks an hour for ONTAP in the cloud on AWS! Buy or rent the car? Depends on the use case.

3/16/16 – 10:33AM

Data moves in and out of the cloud based on business need. That’s where Data Fabric story comes it. Need a way to move it easily and as non-disruptively as possible.

3/16/16 – 10:35AM

Hitz has covered what NetApp already does. Joe will come up and talk about the future.

Enrico Signoretti asked about HCI. Fair question. Will be answered in Q&A.

3/16/16 – 10:38AM

Joe CaraDonna has been summoned.

Talks about how Cloud ONTAP started out as a VSIM. VSIM could be considered as the original Software Defined Storage.

Joe CaraDonna doesn’t have a Twitter handle. He got a bit of a ribbing, then Dave Hitz offered Tweeting as a Service with his handle. (@davehitz)

Video of Joe’s presentation here:

3/16/16 – 10:40AM

Data Fabric is all about the data.

  • Control
  • Choice
  • Integration
  • Access
  • Consistency

3/16/16 – 10:46AM

Three clouds currently supported with NetApp Private Storage: Amazon, Microsoft, SoftLayer. Failover between clouds in 15 seconds or less!

3/16/16 – 10:48AM

Chris Evans wanted a demo of this failover capability.

Ask and ye shall receive!


3/16/16 – 10:53AM

De-dupe on AWS = saving $$

Real customers using this and asking for things like HA, cloud failover, etc. Not every vendor can do  that today, nor in the near future.

3/16/16 – 10:55AM

Joe’s moved to the AltaVault story. Back anything up to any cloud, using pretty much any backup product.

No one in the room’s heard of AltaVault. But they’ve heard of SteelStore. So, that’s a win!

3/16/16 – 10:56AM

Joe’s talking SnapMirror to Everything now and why that’s such a boon to people using cloud storage. WAN efficient backups. Fast, saves $$. Moves only deltas.

Multiple platform support in the future for SnapMirror. E-Series, FAS, AFF, SolidFire, Edge.

3/16/16 – 10:58AM

Joe’s talking about an upcoming feature called “composite aggregates” that allow you to do object store data tiering. Hot data gravitating to faster storage. SSDs in same aggregates as spinning disk!

Dave Wright chimes in: This feature is way more important than a single slide can describe.

3/16/16 – 11:04AM

Joe is being told to do the demo.

So we are getting a demo.

Let’s see this in action!

3/16/16 – 11:05AM

Demo will be real stuff in a lab. Futures. Not mock ups, faked, etc.

Cloud Manager is being used (that’s currently available). Demo is of moving data between clouds. Data Fabric in action.

Demo of moving data between clouds happens in just a few mouse clicks!

Essentially, creating two instances – one in AWS (already created, has data – simply attaching), one in Azure. Next up – restoring to cloud.

Just a few mouse clicks. Restore of 10GB of data = 25ish seconds!

That’s a *full* restore. No incrementals. All done over SnapMirror.

Video of demo here:

ye 3/16/16 – 11:15AM

Val Bercovici updates what’s currently available:

Cloud ONTAP in different regions and Cloud Manager – Available today!

AltaVault – Available today!

SnapMirror to FAS/AFF/NPS – Available today!

Futures are mainly the inter-platform stuff.

3/16/16 – 11:17AM

Dave Wright is up.

Hitz asked about if his time at GameSpy inspired him to invent the storage that eventually became SolidFire. Answer? YES!

People will solve problems that are not solved yet for themselves if they want to survive.


3/16/16 – 11:21AM

Fantastic opening by Dave Wright.

Ignores the “let’s talk about all flash at NetApp” to uncover the lies that flash storage companies tell.

This oughta be good…

Video recording up here:

3/16/16 – 11:22AM

Lies, lies and damn lies.

Lie #1: Disk architectures can’t be adapted to all-flash

Covers data reduction/complex metadata handling myths and why ONTAP fits. Hard != impossible.

News flash: Dave Hitz wrote WAFL. He sees how well it fits with flash.

NetApp has optimized ONTAP/WAFL for flash. Can’t just throw flash at the problem.

My take: Designed from the ground up only works better if it’s a superior design.

Oh, you want a ground up architecture? SolidFire is your answer.

3/16/16 – 11:42AM

Big vendors are adapting faster than startups can add features.

Lie #2: One flash architecture can cover all primary storage use cases

Modern datacenter is too diverse. No one can design for every use case. That’s where a diverse product portfolio comes in.

Features, flexibility, application speed.

Lie #3: Flash adoption is slow

As prices drop, it’s picking up. Sure, it’s a luxury for some workloads. But when you can get speed *and* disk lifespan near HDD prices per GB, why not?

Would you turn down a Ferrari for the Yugo if it only cost a bit more?

3/16/16 – 11:58AM

2 minute warning! I don’t know if Dave will be able to finish before lunch. The natives are getting restless, I fear…

Did predict that the incumbent storage vendors will take the market from the startups, particularly in the enterprise space. They’re just not adapting fast enough.

3/16/16 – 12:00PM

He hits the shot at the buzzer. March Madness.

Now time for Q&A! (Presented as a Reddit AMA)

Q: Do you drive to work in a Ferrari

A: No!

Q (@JPWarren): What are thoughts on overall storage market?

A: Reality is that the storage market was overfunded. Unicorns! We’re seeing a normalization now.

Q (@JPWarren): Thoughts on HyperConverged? (HCI)

A: SolidFire does a lot of what people like about HCI. So, it can actually replace HCI in some use cases and still accomplish simplicity, scale out.

Q (@JPWarren):  Asks “other Dave” same question.

A: Agrees with D. Wright. Simplicity and scale out are like chocolate and peanut butter. (my words, not his)

Q (@ESignoretti): Asks about block vs NAS (like NFS of course).

A: Docker containers to handle NFS right now. No current announcements, but touts NetApp’s NFS history. (Boom.)

Hitz wants to make sure they don’t drown SF. We want to be a resource, not a driver. SnapMirror is priority #1.

3/16/16 – 12:08AM

Foskett wrapping up. Over 150 viewers. Video will be edited and posted soon to review.

Cameras going down. Back online at 2PM elsewhere it sounds!