Yesterday the VMware Partner Exchange 2010 kicked off. For those of you unfamiliar with VMware Partner Exchange, or PEX, it is the annual virtualization event designed especially for VMware Partners focused on partner education and enablement. This year’s event is being attended by approximately 2,500 senior executives, sales professionals, technical experts, value add resellers, OEM partners, distribution partners, vExperts, and technical alliance partners.
The schedule for Monday was consisted of one’s choice of day long partner boot camps or hands on labs and concluded with a Welcome Reception sponsored by NetApp and EMC.
Top of Mind
One of the best parts of my role at NetApp is meeting with the people that transition virtual solutions from PowerPoint presentations and marketing slicks to customer deployments. Last night I was able to have a number of these conversations and I would like to share a few trends that resonated from these discussions.
Observation Number 1: The Cisco NetApp VMware Alliance caught many by surprise, and the partners like what we delivered with our first joint solution, the Secure Multi-Tenancy architecture. Cloud is a reality, and whether it is internal or external our technical alliance and open ecosystem of delivery partners has mass appeal.
The Cisco NetApp VMware architectures are the only joint solutions where the management framework and delivery tool remain unchanged as the amount of hardware scales up over time. Partners feel very comfortable bringing a customer into the cloud without the caveats or restrictions around scale that moves them from one hardware platform to another.
As one partner said, “With ESX, NX-OS, and Data ONTAP we can unify the virtual datacenter.”
Observation Number 2: Partners sell larger, more integrated solutions due to the storage costs reductions enabled by NetApp’s production data deduplication capabilities. Storage footprint reductions and the inherent bandwidth acceleration provided by dedupe literally finances DR initiatives.
As one partner said, “Customers are pulling 2011 initiative into 2010 budgets strictly due to production dedupe.”
Observation Number 3: 2010 is the year of Virtual Desktops. Mass adoption of VMware based virtual desktop solutions, View or partner solutions that run on vSphere such as Quest vWorkspace, XenDesktop, and Desktone, have historically been plagued by storage challenges.
Virtual Desktops require very cost efficient storage architectures that have the ability to provide a massive amount of performance in order to handle the associated “I/O storms”.
As one partner said, “We looked at every tech on the planet; loads of drives and huge array cache were too expensive. SSDs will probably solve this challenge long term, but today the price per GB is ten times that of a FC drives and SSDs require highly available RAID technologies like RAID-10 in order to overcome the relatively short life cycles found in MLC enterprise flash drives. NetApp with PAM allows us to sell FC based solutions today which meet the performance of SSD at today’s FC commodity price point.”
Observation Number 4: NetApp is still relatively unknown and has a huge market opportunity. I was speaking with a group from Cisco who collectively shared that when they meet customers who have deployed VMware on NetApp, that these customers go out of their way to highlight the benefits of NetApp in their cloud architectures.
One engineer said, “It’s easy to see why EMC calls NetApp customers ‘fan boys’ as they are obsessed with the benefits Data ONTAP delivers around management and VMware integration.”
Closing Thoughts On Day 1
Virtualization is truly changing everything and I believe it is occurring faster than most imagined. I’m proud to work for a company who has a passionate and educated partner community that is dedicated to leading the evolution from data centers to the cloud.
I’ve got to run, I have a session to attend, cheers!
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