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NetApp Insight – Data is the new Oil

NetApp Insight: Data is the new Oil


For those of you who don’t know what NetApp Insight is, it’s NetApp’s premier technical conference held yearly in Las Vegas. This year it was held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. The conference is typically highlighted by a couple of keynote speakers. This year the keynotes were Gerd Leonhard and Kate Swanbord.

Leonhard is a futurist, in that “he doesn’t predict the future, he observes the future.” He talked about what he saw for the future – namely, a future driven by data. He suggested that humanity will change more in the next 20 years than the previous 300.  He suggested that humanity and technology are converging, giving an example of the pet robot funerals now taking place in Japan. He also predicted that if health care diagnostics are pushed to the cloud, the result will be a decline in healthcare costs as diagnostic speed is vastly superior to humans regarding calculations and accuracy. He then turned his discussion to the human side of this merger with technology. He urged the audience to find a way to use technology in a good way, in a human way and then suggested Digital Ethics. Yes, he even used the Spiderman phrase “with great power comes great responsibility,” and he’s not wrong.

Kate Swanbord, the second high profile keynote is the SVP, Technology Communications, and Strategic Alliances at Dreamworks Animation. She began her keynote talking about how much it takes to create an animated movie. It takes 500 million digital files to produce just one film, and their business ambition is to release two movies a year, with as many as ten in active production. That’s 5 billion files active at any one time, and any designer can access any file from any movie from anywhere in the world. “We make data – that’s why we choose NetApp because they are the data authority,” Swanbord spoke about NetApp being used in every one of their CG films since day 1, and are still the foundational infrastructure for their entire filmmaking pipeline. All of this is why Dreamworks has moved from a delighted customer to a co-engineering partnership.

The conference is jam-packed with technical sessions that cover everything from the high level to the deep dive about practically all of the NetApp portfolio. The conference also has a customer appreciation event.  This year we were treated to a Lenny Kravitz concert, and wow it was great!  I’ve never seen so many nerds jumping up and down in one place. 🙂

NetApp has always used Insight to announce new hardware or software offerings and this year was no different. One of the more prominent announcements was NetApp MAX Data.  What is MAX Data you ask?

MAX Data will be powered by the NetApp Memory Accelerated File System (NetApp MAX FS). It will run on application servers and will use persistent memory such as the Intel and Micron 3D XPoint architecture to dramatically accelerate traditional and emerging workloads while offering full data management capability. Our vision for MAX Data includes the ability to mirror and protect persistent memory, to use snapshots for fast data recovery, and to tier data as it ages to an ONTAP based AFF system.

NetApp also announced the latest version of ONTAP, version 9.5. Here are some of the new features on ONTAP 9.5

  • A reworked code base means increased performance and efficiency.
  • Ability to manage multiple NetApp Fabric Pools.
  • Backup up data to secondary storage, and then to the cloud in 2 clicks.
  • Metrocluster limit of 700km, more than double the previous distance.
  • The added support of MAX DATA (as discussed above).
  • Kubernetes was also in the minds of Insight Attendees as NetApp had announced the acquisition of StackPointCloud to launch Kubernetes as a Service.

For me, the most critical part of NetApp Insight is connecting with the customers. Allowing customers to participate in Insight has breathed new life into the event these past few years. Imagine being able to talk to, hang out with, or sit and listen for a week.  As NetApp Partners it is often difficult to get 30 minutes on the phone with busy customers. At Insight, you have all week to hear what their business concerns are. That to me is the best part of the conference, which was certainly reinforced at Insight 2018. Already looking forward to 2019.