Re: too big, or too small
I'll try to be clearer so you can appreciate the difference
"So basically you're stating that you occupy the space that sits between smaller HCI deployments (8-nodes or larger) and a large enterprise 3-tier solution like a FlexPod/Vblock,
No, if thats how I came across, then allow me to correct myself ..NetApp HCI scales well into, the space currently occupied by FlexPod, the small FlexPods (FlexPod Mini) also scale down into the space occupied by the sweet spot for the Gen-1 HCI products. The important thing is that NetApp HCI is not limited to the departmental scale that is the typical implementation of an individual Nutanix or VxRAIL cluster.
But wait... doesn't VxRack (and Nutanix for that matter) already provide the same thing (service provide scale, thousands of nodes, millions of IOPs, PBs of capacity, blah, blah)?
Not really no .. it might be possible to configure a single VxRAIL based cluster which has some impressive theoretical specs, and then run a homogenous workload that balances nicely across all the nodes in the cluster, but running a real mixed workload typical of a datacenter would probably result in a SDS induced meltdown at some point, especially after a node failure resulting in a storm of rebalancing behaviour. I'm painfully aware that this comes across as unsubstantiated FUD, but I'm not at liberty to directly disclose the results of the interviews and market research that was done when the product was being designed, so I can't substantiate it here. By analogy though, there is a reason why VxRACK (EMCs large scale HCI offering) doesn't use VSAN as it's underlying SDS layer.
As I've said earlier, the key differentiation with NetApp HCI is the SDS layer, however if you're interested in the differentiation of NetApp HCI, begin with an overview of SolidFire, keeping in mind that it was built to leverage the best of Flash technology (it didn't start out as a hybrid array), and think about how in the storage world, most hybrid arrays are declining in sales while all flash is increasing dramatically. NetApp HCI's storage technology is good enough to compete with a specialist storage array toe-to-toe and win even without the other benefits of HCO .. I don't think you could argue the same thing for VSAN or NDS.