July 21, 2011

NetApp: One of the World’s Most Innovative Companies

Today Forbes published a list of The World’s Most Innovative Companies, and NetApp ranked 34th.
 
At first I thought that was a bit low. (Perhaps we’ve gotten spoiled being so consistently near the top of Fortune’s list of the Best Companies to Work For.)
 
But then I started reading through the list and noticed that none of the other major storage vendors – EMC, HP, IBM and Dell – even made the list. That made me feel much better. We are in fun company: folks like Starbucks, Apple, Activision, and Google.
 
Here is a video interview that I did with Forbes on the topic of innovation and how to foster an innovative culture.

May 09, 2011

Announcing Our New E-Series Storage Arrays

Today we completed our deal to buy Engenio, which was LSI’s external storage systems business. The E-Series is our name for the new platforms resulting from the acquisition.

 

In my earlier blog on Engenio, I mentioned some of the potential markets we saw, but now we can give more details about specific solutions. Val Bercovici has a blog describing the E-Series with Hadoop for big data/big analytics, and I’ve invited Mark Weber, who runs our U.S. Public Sector business, to share some thoughts about Full Motion Video, which is of particular interest for defense and intelligence customers.

 

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Engenio and NetApp Deliver Full Motion Video…Today

By Mark Weber, president NetApp U.S. Public Sector

Thanks, Dave. As Tom recently said, we’re seeing huge customer demand for  very high bandwidth applications and full motion video (FMV) is a classic example of this. FMV is all about keeping eyes (via unmanned aerial vehicles and satellites) on as many targets as possible and is a concept that has been particularly hot with our federal customers in the defense and intelligence fields. FMV generates massive amounts of mission critical data and the demand for this data is growing fast.  

Managing these huge data sets requires a highly scalable, very high performance and ultra-dense storage solution. What’s more, our federal customers are on the front-lines and require a storage environment that will allow them to access the mission critical information and data they need, when they need it. As part of today’s announcement, we’ve introduced a new Full Motion Video Storage Solution built on the E-Series Platform.

The new Full Motion Video Solution will allow our federal customers to worry less about how full motion video data is stored and accessed and more about their work in the field. The bottom line is the faster data can be accessed, evaluated, and disseminated the better the decision-making will be in an environment where every second counts. Our new Full Motion Video Solution is purpose built and uses an ultra-dense form factor that enables data to be stored for longer periods of time, providing a more thorough examination of data that enables our federal customers to make better and more informed decisions.  

We’ve gained a talented group of people and fantastic technology that will allow us to build solutions on our E-Series Platform for customers using big bandwidth applications and full motion video is only the start. We are very excited about the future of this team and technology.

April 25, 2011

Are Corporate Values Yucky?

I gave a TEDx talk on the question of whether corporate values are yucky. My initial answers were: (1) Yes, (2) Sometimes, (3) I used to think so, and then I elaborated for fifteen more minutes.

 

March 28, 2011

Culture of Innovation

What does it take to create a culture of innovation? That's what I discuss with Criss Marshall in this edition of iNside NetApp.

March 16, 2011

Today NetApp Grew Past Ten Thousand Employees: Culture Must Change

Today NetApp grew past ten-thousand employees.

Of course, there’s no particular magic in that number: just a coincidence of base ten math. Still, I’m always interested in crossing boundaries, natural or artificial, and I do think it’s important to think about what size means.

In particular, many people appreciate NetApp’s culture, and they ask, “How can we make sure our culture doesn’t change as we grow?”

I -- on the other hand –- believe that our culture must change. When a company grows, what is appropriate changes. For instance, in a 10 person company, you don’t need formal all-hands meetings with follow-up video-on-demand to communicate with everyone. That would seem stiff and unnatural. You just invite them all to lunch. But as a company grows, it becomes much more difficult to share information, and it is important to create more formal employee communications. We have internal web sites with notes and videos from executives, as well as formal notes to help managers communicate to their teams. In a small company, that would have felt like overkill –- also overly formal -– but now it is appropriate and important.

I have heard culture defined as “values plus behavior”. Values are the part that shouldn’t change, or at least not too often. Culture, on the other hand, should change. It should change in response to the environment around us –- in response to economic conditions or competitive conditions, and it should also change as NetApp itself changes.

Even if ten thousand employees is an artificial boundary, it seemed like a good time to remind ourselves: As NetApp changes, it is important that our culture changes. We still want to be the best company we can be, but what is best at 10,000 is different than what was best a few years ago at 5,000. What stays the same is the core values that the culture is built on.

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