Secret NetApp customer research says HP arrays are “not robust enough," HDS hard to beat on price

SearchStorage ANZ has found a NetApp presentation that analyses the reasons the company wins accounts among the Global 5000. The presentation includes data on the NSW Department of Education and Coles Myer, which NetApp says bought HDS products because it was “way cheaper”.

NetApp’s research of its customer base suggests that the company is pleased to be gaining traction among Oracle users, easily wins against Hewlett Packard but struggles to beat Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) in deals, as the Japanese vendors products are very well priced.

The research, found by SearchStorage ANZ in a public RSS feed NetApp provides to its user community, is revealed in a sixteen minute recording of a WebEx session. The community is open to registration by any member of the public: no proof of ownership of NetApp products is required. The slides used in the webinar are dated 2008, but the slides were posted to the RSS feed on October 28th, 2009.

The recording features a female speaker, occasional questions from a male speaker, and an indeterminate number of other participants in the call.

Entitled “What did we learn from the V-Series customer reference database” the presentation features a female speaker who says the data under discussion explains “how are we cracking the global 5000 accounts.”

In its first slide, the presentation identifies return on existing investments as an important reason it is winning business for its V-series products, with the devices used to front existing storage appliances from NetApp and its rivals.

The company also says that file server consolidation and virtualization are driving sales, while “competitive array deficiency” is also mentioned.

NetApp’s storage efficiency mantra is also gaining traction, with the female speaker in the presentation saying it is “… actually getting our footprint into Oracle environments. Increasingly, people are looking at us for Oracle. Exchange, SharePoint, SQL, that has always been there.”

The presentation then moves on to a slide entitled “Storage Strategy for array attach” that identifies four groups of customers

The first group is identified as combination users, as they use NetApp products alongside those from other vendors. The NSW Department of Education is classified in this category.

The female speaker says these users “might have an older array and the lease has not expired and they would like to leverage the old array, then cut over to NetApp.”

“Fronters” use NetApp V-series equipment to “front” arrays from other vendors, but do not have NetApp equipment in the core of their storage infrastructure. The female speaker says this is because users perceive NetApp as an expensive source of disk infrastructure or are very loyal HDS customers.

“Converters” are accounts NetApp believes are abandoning other vendors and the female speaker singles out EMC as the vendor they are likely to be fleeing and RAID-DP as the technology they wish to acquire.

“They figure they are paying too much for Clariion, or are dissatisfied with [EMC’s Clariion model number] CX-500 and were going to buy another array anyway” and migrate to NetApp.

A fourth group, “Option Holders” acquire V-series products but do so in order to have NetApp present in their organisation for technological or political reasons.

The presentation’s next slide, titled “Use Cases By Arrays” contains stinging criticism of NetApp’s rivals.

A company called “Enterprise Integration” is quoted as saying EMC’s CX-500 is “too slow” while American Greetings criticises EMC devices as being too chatty and therefore impacting application performance.

HP is singled out for strong criticism, with the female speaker stating that “It is very clear their arrays are not robust enough and that their backup is weak.”

HDS is clearly causing NetApp some concern.

“They do not buy us because Hitachi is cheaper,” the speaker says. “This has come up many, many times.”

IBM is perceived as lacking NetApp’s NAS strength and delivering disappointing results under VMWare.

The presentation concludes with the male and female speaker exchanging views on why NetApp’s FAS product line is not selling strongly.

The two conclude that it is partly because customers currently cannot get approval to buy new disk, while the introduction of the products is often blocked for political reasons.

The presentation concludes that NetApp is pleased with the extent of adoption for its deduplication products, while uptake by Oracle customers is very pleasing. These two trends are held to be the major changes to the company’s sales environment.

UPDATE: At NetApp's request, we have blacked out the names of the company's customers to protect their privacy.

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