End of storage coming
Ok, when NetApp rose, it was because companies overconsolidated and overwasted. Not only that, but Microsoft, VMware and OpenStack lacked built in storage solutions. Most storage sales were measured on the scale of a few terabytes at most. Consider that a 2TB FAS 2500 series cost a company $10000 or more using spinning disks.
Most companies ran their own data centers and consolidated all their services into as few servers as possible. They went from running 5-10 separate servers (AD, Exchange, SQL, their business app...) costing $2000 each to 3-10 VMware servers costing $5000 each plus a SAN and an additional $2000+ in software licenses each... to run the same things.
Performance dropped considerably when they made that shift. Sure, they were supposedly easier to manage, but the management began to realize that systems that used to take 1 average skilled employee and 1 consultant to manage now took a team of full time employees and a lot more consultants to run.
Performance was almost always a problem because of storage. NetApp made a fortune because they could deliver a SAN which was relatively easy to manage that could handle most small businesses data.
What got really weird is when the bosses wondered how they went from $100,000 IT costs per year (people too) to $500,000 or more and no matter how much they spent on tools to make it more reliable and more robust, they always found themselves with the same outages and increasing costs.
Enter the cloud.
Companies could move their identity, mail, sharepoint, collaboration and office tools online using a relatively easy migration tool which took a few days to weeks.
SQL and their company app could be uploaded as VMs initially with little effort and with some effort, they could move their SQL to Azure’s SQL.
Now, they can downsize to one IT person and drop their costs to about $100K a year again.
The catch is, since we no longer need a dozen IT guys and consultants, no one left knows what either NetApp or Cisco is and they’re just using the simple pointy clicks UI to do everything. Their internal data center is being spun down and finding its way to eBay instead.
Then there’s whoever is left. They find that by replacing their servers with new servers containing disks, they can use VSAN, Storage Spaces Direct or Swift and not have to spend money on external storage which actually has a lower aggregate performance and substantially higher cost. Not only that, but they’re integrated into the systems they run on.
NetApp has no meaning for cloud vendors because MS, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Oracle can all make their own. In some cases, they even make their own hardware.
NetApp will still have a market for a while, but they will become less interesting as more services are moved to the cloud. After all, most companies depending on NetApp today probably have just enough performance to continue operations and as more systems go to the cloud, they’ll need less performance, not more.
There will be organizations like military and banks who will still need storage. And of course there are surveillance systems that require keeping video for 2-10 years depending on country. But I believe increasingly they will be able to move to more cost efficient solutions.
NetApp... I loved you, but like many others, I have now spun down 5 major NetApp installations and moved either to cloud or to OpenStack with Ceph. My company is currently spinning down another 12 major (service provider scale) NetApp solutions because we just don’t need it anymore.
I wish you luck and hope you convince HPe to buy you out like they do to everyone else in your position.