73: GreyBeards talk HCI with Gabriel Chapman, Sr. Mgr. Cloud Infrastructure NetApp

Sponsored by: NetApp

In this episode we talk HCI  with Gabriel Chapman (@Bacon_Is_King), Senior Manager, Cloud Infrastructure, NetApp. Gabriel presented at the NetApp Insight 2018 TechFieldDay Extra (TFDx) event (video available here). Gabriel also presented last year at the VMworld 2017 TFDx event (video available here). If you get a chance we encourage you to watch the videos as Gabriel, did a great job providing some design intent and descriptions of NetApp HCI capabilities. Our podcast was recorded after the TFDx event.

NetApp HCI consists of NetApp Solidfire storage re-configured, as a small enterprise class AFA storage node occupying one blade of a four blade system, where the other three blades are dedicated compute servers. NetApp HCI runs VMware vSphere but uses enterprise class iSCSI storage supplied by the NetApp SolidFire AFA.

On our podcast, we talked a bit about SolidFire storage. It’s not well known but the 1st few releases of SolidFire (before NetApp acquisition) didn’t have a GUI and was entirely dependent on its API/CLI for operations. That heritage continues today as NetApp HCI management console is basically a front end GUI for NetApp HCI API calls.

Another advantage of SolidFire storage was it’s extensive QoS support which included state of the art service credits as well as service limits.  All that QoS sophistication is also available in NetApp HCI, so that customers can more effectively limit noisy neighbor interference on HCI storage.

Although NetApp HCI runs VMware vSphere as its preferred hypervisor, it’s also possible to run other hypervisors in bare metal clusters with NetApp HCI storage and compute servers. In contrast to other HCI solutions, with NetApp HCI, customers can run different hypervisors, all at the same time, sharing access to NetApp HCI storage.

On our podcast and the Insight TFDx talk, Gabriel mentioned some future deliveries and roadmap items such as:

  • Extending NetApp HCI hardware with a new low-end, 2U configuration designed specifically for RoBo and SMB customers;.
  • Adding NetApp Cloud Volume support so that customers can extend their data fabric out to NetApp HCI; and
  • Adding (NFS) file services support so that customers using NFS data stores /VVols could take advantage of NetApp HCI storage.

Another thing we discussed was the new development HCI cadence. In the past they typically delivered new functionality about 1/year. But with the new development cycle,  they’re able to deliver functionality much faster but have settled onto a 2 releases/year cycle, which seems about as quickly as their customer base can adopt new functionality.

The podcast runs ~22 minutes. We apologize for any quality issues with the audio. It was recorded at the show and we were novices with the onsite recording technology. We promise to do better in the future. Gabriel has almost become a TFDx regular these days and provides a lot of insight on both NetApp HCI and SolidFire storage.  Listen to our podcast to learn more.

Gabriel Chapman, Senior Manager, Cloud Infrastructure, NetApp

Gabriel is the Senior Manager for NetApp HCI Go to Market. Today he is mainly engaged with NetApp’s top tier customers and partners with a primary focus on Hyper Converged Infrastructure for the Next Generation Data Center.

As a 7 time vExpert that transitioned into the vendor side after spending 15 years working in the end user Information Technology arena, Gabriel specializes in storage and virtualization technologies. Today his primary area of expertise revolves around storage, data center virtualization, hyper-converged infrastructure, rack scale/hyper scale computing, cloud, DevOps, and enterprise infrastructure design.

Gabriel is a Prime Mover, Technologist, Unapologetic Randian, Social Media Junky, Writer, Bacon Lover, and Deep Thinker, whose goal is to speak truth on technology and make complex ideas sound simple. In his free time, Gabriel is the host of the In Tech We Trust podcast and enjoys blogging as well as public speaking.

Prior to joining SolidFire, Gabriel was a storage technologies specialist covering the United States with Cisco, focused on the Global Service Provider customer base. Before Cisco, he was part of the go-to-market team at SimpliVity, where he concentrated on crafting the customer facing messaging, pre-sales engagement, and evangelism efforts for the early adopters of Hyper Converged Infrastructure.

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