63: GreyBeards talk with NetApp A-Team members John Woodall & Paul Stringfellow

Sponsored by NetApp:

In this episode, we talk with NetApp A-Team members John Woodall (@John_Woodall), VP Eng, Integrated Archive Systems and Paul Stringfellow (@techstringy), Technical Dir.  Data Management Consultancy, Gardner Systems Plc.

Both John and Paul have been NetApp partners for quite awhile (John since the beginning of NetApp). John and Paul work directly with infrastructure customers in solving customer, real world data problems.

NetApp A-Team is a select, small (only 25 total) group of individuals that are brought together periodically and briefed by NetApp Execs and Product managers. A-Team membership is for life (as long as they continue to work in IT and not for a competitor). The briefings span a number of topics but are typically about what NetApp plans to do in the near term. The A-Team is there to provide a customer perspective to NetApp management and product teams.

Oftentimes, big companies can lose sight of customer problems and having a separate channel that’s engaged directly with customers can sometimes bring to light these issues. By having the A-Team, NetApp is getting feedback on customer problems and concerns from partners that directly engage with them.

Both Howard and I were very impressed that when John and Paul introduced themselves they mentioned DATA rather than storage. This signalsa a different perspective from pure infrastructure to a more customer view.

Following that theme, Howard asked about how customers were seeing the NetApp Data Fabric. This led to a long discussion of just what NetApp Data Fabric represents to customers in this multi-cloud world today. NetApp’s Data Fabric provides choice on where customers can run their work, liberating work that previously may have be stuck in the cloud or on prem.

Ray asked about how NetApp is embracing the cloud. What with cloud data volumes (see earlier NetApp sponsored podcast), NPS, Cloud ONTAP and other cloud solutions NetApp has lit up in various public clouds.  John mentioned that public preview for Cloud Data Volumes should free up by end of the year and at that time anyone can use it.

I was at a dinner with NetApp, 3-5 years ago, when the cloud looked like a steamroller that was going to grind infrastructure providers into dust. I was talking with a NetApp executive, he said they were doing everything they could at the time to figure out how to offer value with cloud providers rather than competing with them. Either you embrace change or you’re buried by it.

At the end of the podcast, Howard turned the discussion to NetApp HCI. Paul said, at first HCI was just shrunk infrastructure, but now, its more about the software stack on top of HCI that matters. The stack enables simpler deployment and configuration flexibility. From a NetApp HCI perspective, flexibility in being able to separately add more compute or storage is a strong differentiator.

The podcast runs ~30 minutes. Both John and Paul were very knowledgeable about current IT trends. I think we could have easily talked with them for another hour or so and not exhausted the conversation.  Listen to the podcast to learn more.

Paul Stringfellow, Technical Director, Data Management Consultancy Gardner Systems, Plc

An experienced technology professional, Paul Stringfellow is the Technical Director at Data Management Consultancy Gardner Systems Plc. He works with businesses of all types to assist with the development of technology strategies, and, increasingly, to help them manage, secure, and gain benefit from their data assets.

Paul is a NetApp A-Team and is very involved in the tech community. Paul often presents at conferences and user group events. He also produces a wide range of business focused technology content from his blog techstringy.com and Tech Interviews Podcast (podcast.techstringy.com), and he also writes regularly for a number of industry technology sites. You can find Paul on twitter at @techstringy.

John Woodall, VP Engineering, Integrated Archive Systems 

John Woodall is Vice President of Engineering at Integrated Archive Systems, Inc. (IAS). John has more than 28 years of experience in technology with a background focused on Enterprise and Infrastructure Architecture, Systems Engineering and Technology Management. In these roles John developed a long string of successes designing and implementing complex systems in demanding, mission critical large-scale enterprise environments.

John is a NetApp A-Team member and has managed the complete range of IT disciplines. John brings that experience and perspective to his role at IAS.At IAS, his focus is on mapping the company’s strategic direction, evaluating emerging technologies, trends, practices and managing the technology portfolio for IAS with the express goal of producing excellent customer experiences and business outcomes. Prior to joining IAS, John held architecture and management roles at Symantec, Solectron (now part of Flextronics), Madge Networks and Elsevier MDL.You can find me at @John_Woodall on twitter and Skype: TechWood

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