I was invited to NetApp a few weeks back, to participate in an executive briefing and update on all that is NetApp. It was quite exciting. I had never been to NetApp and they have a very nice campus. It was at one time owned by Cisco, but NetApp has totally redone much of it and is even constructing new buildings. The place looks great! The update was very good. Much was discussed about some of the new and exciting things that NetApp is doing such as its FlexPod strategy. I really think the way that Cisco, NetApp and VMware are going about it is a smart approach.
I had been working quite long hours lately, and had only done about 3 hours of sleep in two days! So the whole time I was in the briefing I was struggling with being tired, but it was some very interesting stuff, so I managed. This is also one of the few times I get to see many people from different parts of our company, so it was good to sync up with some people I had not seen for a while. We have some very smart NetApp focused people in the company and I am looking forward to picking their brains. My study for NCDA was kicked off some time ago, however I am tackling my EMC EMCISA certification first as I am closer to finishing that and should have it shortly.
Some of the things going on with NetApp and backup are very interesting as well. NetApp has forged a very tight relationship with SyncSort and I think it could be a game changer for backup. SyncSort in a nutshell is block level backup, but it only backs up the changed blocks. So its like incremental block level. They call this “Data Reduction”. The NetApp then further de-duplicates the data. This is much different than say EMC, where you are dealing with a file level device (Data Domain). With Data Domain you get some great de-duplication and no doubt this results in much less disk space being used, but it really doesn’t help your RPO/RTO as much as NetApp with SyncSort. I have not had the chance to play with it in the lab but I am looking forward to it. Soon I will be standing up some NetApp VSA’s on a new VM environment I am building and I plan to have SyncSort in there running as well.
One thing that was very impressive at NetApp is their state-of-the-art data center. It’s huge and it’s built on some very cool technology. They are using pressurization in the data center to allow the outside air to do most of the cooling. The temperature is a bit warm for my tastes, its about 74 degrees on average, and in the summer time they actually wear T-shirts and shorts in there because its that hot. The reality is, the electronics can do fine in these temperatures, any lower only benefits the human comfort level. You can read about some of the cool stuff they are doing here. Seeing it in person was very impressive however.