In January 2017, cloud data management solutions provider NetApp launched a global centre of excellence in Bengaluru, at an estimated expenditure of Rs 1,000 crore, to strengthen its data fabric solutions and services that secure movement of data across the hybrid cloud.
Four years later, all-flash arrays and hybrid cloud services have turned out to be the key drivers of growth at the company, thanks to pandemic digital transformation projects. The investment in India has helped Sunnyvale, California headquartered company innovate at a quicker pace.
“A lot of key innovation that has helped the company differentiate in the marketplace, around data reduction techniques, advanced data management in file system replication, or some of the work around operational simplicity, are all anchored in our center of excellence in India,” Octavian Tanase, SVP Engineering, NetApp, told TechCircle.
NetApp entered India some 17 years ago with a small engineering team and now employs a workforce of 2,200. The company also helps Indian startups via its accelerator programme.
One of the company’s prominent offerings is its proprietary network attached storage (NAS) operating system, ONTAP. Using NAS, enterprises can store and access data on a centralised location, with the shared data stored on a single NAS server as compared to each computer sharing its own files.
While most large-storage arrays from vendors usually utilise commodity hardware with an operating system such as Microsoft Windows Server, Linux or VxWorks, NetApp storage arrays use their own proprietary ONTAP operating system for storage-serving needs.
The latest iteration of ONTAP is the version 9.8.
“This is an operating system that we've invested over the years and, and frankly, rewrote several times. We have a data management system that is deployed in the traditional data center and all major cloud providers,” Tanase said.
A lot of the work done on ONTAP to make it available on small Internet of Things devices was led out of India, Tanase told TechCircle.
“The data fabric that enables data manageability, data mobility, data governance is something that has been significantly contributed by the team in India,” he said.
One of the key segments for ONTAP has been that of life sciences and healthcare. Today, the solution is used by pharmaceutical heavyweights such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca used ONTAP to build a data fabric to accelerate research, which has led to more efficient data usage, faster discovery, and benefits for patients, according to the company.
“The movement of workloads from the private cloud to our public cloud was time consuming. Scientists couldn’t do anything with the data, until we migrated it. We needed a hybrid, multi-cloud data fabric to move data to any cloud from any cloud,” Scott Hunter, global infrastructure services director at AstraZeneca, said.
Apart from pharmaceutical companies, the customer list for ONTAP includes Dreamworks, Ducati, Coca Cola, and Airtel Payments Bank and Tata Consultancy Services.
Hybrid cloud, flash array spur growth
In an earnings call late last year, NetApp CEO George Kurian said all flash array and hybrid cloud were the two biggest drivers of growth at the company for the past few months.
For the second quarter of fiscal year 2021, which ended on October 30, 2020, the company’s public cloud services saw annualized revenue run rate of $216 million, an increase of 200% year-over-year.
The all-flash array revenue run rate saw an increase by 15%. Its hardware revenues, however, noticed a y-o-y decline of 18%.
“Right now, our run rate is over $2.5 billion for flash storage. Our mtbf (mean-time between failures) is three times better than traditional hard drives,” Tanase says.
“Flash will become the de-facto the default solution for most customers that are looking to have systems operating with better business continuity and resiliency,” Tanase added.
NetApp has made strategic acquisitions to strengthen cloud data services around storage and computing. The purchase of Israeli start-up Spot.io in June last year was one such bet. Spot is a cloud broker and works with the top three cloud computing giants globally. Back in July, NetApp said that it will use Spot to establish an application driven infrastructure to help customers deploy more applications to the public cloud.
While NetApp has not acquired any company yet in 2021, its other two acquisitions for 2020, Talon, a cloud data storage company and Cloud Jumper, a cloud software in VDI and remote desktop services provider, were aimed at building breadth to its suite of solutions, according to Tanase.
Founded in 1992 by James Lau, Michael Malcom and David Hitz, NetApp went public on November 21, 1995.
The company is expected to announce its third quarter results for 2021 in the fourth week of February.