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Picks and Shovels of AI on display at NetApp Converge 2024

At NetApp Converge 2024, CEO George Kurian unveiled a strategic vision for FY 2025 centered on accelerating digital transformation, strengthening security, and expanding cloud integrations. Key product announcements included significant enhancements to the AFF-A series, optimized for AI workloads, and the introduction of autonomous ransomware protection. NetApp emphasized its commitment to flexibility with its ONTAP system and reinforced its dedication to security with advanced AI-driven protections. Strategic partnerships with NVIDIA and Lenovo were highlighted, particularly the NetApp AI pod for NVIDIA OVX. These initiatives underscore NetApp’s focus on innovation and customer-driven solutions, positioning the company as a leader in data management and AI integration for the upcoming fiscal year.

The energy was palpable at NetApp Converge 2024, where NetApp’s leadership, led by CEO George Kurian, unveiled a roadmap rich in innovation and strategic clarity. This event set the tone for the fiscal year 2025 and reinforced NetApp’s commitment to transforming how businesses utilize data for competitive advantage.

NetApp’s Strategic Vision for FY 2025

George Kurian outlined NetApp’s ambitious strategy for the coming year, emphasizing the crucial role of data as the cornerstone of business agility and enhanced customer experiences. NetApp’s vision for FY 2025 revolves around three strategic pillars: accelerating digital transformation, strengthening security protocols, and expanding cloud integrations.

Kurian announced a series of robust product enhancements, particularly in high-performance flash storage. This suite promises unprecedented efficiency and scalability across storage solutions, catering to diverse enterprise needs from routine data handling to complex AI-driven operations. This move is poised to bolster NetApp’s leadership in a market that increasingly demands versatility and security in data management solutions.

Product Announcement Highlights

At NetApp Converge 2024, the emphasis was placed on three core enhancements, each designed to ensure that NetApp remains at the forefront of data storage technology, particularly in the AI era. The refresh of the AFF-A series underlines this commitment. The series, known for its high-performance capabilities, has been significantly upgraded. The new models, including the AFF A1K, AFF A90, and AFF A70, are optimized to handle AI workloads and other demanding applications, with the capability to support up to 40 million IOPS and one terabyte per second of throughput.

NetApp has always prided itself on the flexibility of its systems and the unified storage operating system, ONTAP, which allows organizations to start with a small setup and scale to massive configurations. This flexibility ensures that as enterprises grow, their data solutions can expand seamlessly alongside them, adapting to ever-changing business needs without downtime or disruption.

Moreover, security has been at the heart of the NetApp offerings since the beginning, with enhancements aimed at making storage solutions some of the most secure on the planet. The introduction of autonomous ransomware protection, with an AI modeling ensuring 99% plus accuracy, and in concert with virtual air-gapped cyber vault architecture, underscores NetApp’s commitment to data security. This new architecture was inspired by customer feedback and has been crafted to offer an integrated, robust defense against ransomware attacks, ensuring that data remains safe and recoverable even in the face of evolving cyber threats.  Secure by Design and NetApp’s work as a key contributor to the CISA Secure by Design pledge is also a key to the radical transparency needed among infrastructure vendors, especially where data is the target of bad actors and nation-states.

Lastly, the company continues to underpin the data foundations for enterprise AI, leveraging longstanding partnerships with industry leaders such as NVIDIA  and Lenovo. These collaborations have been strengthened over the years, culminating in introducing the NetApp AI pod with Lenovo for NVIDIA  OVX, a solution designed to streamline AI operations and make sophisticated data science accessible to more enterprises.

NetApp’s approach to innovation is deeply collaborative, with a consistent emphasis on aligning product development closely with customer feedback and needs. This customer-first philosophy has driven the creation of solutions that are not only technologically advanced but also directly address the practical challenges faced by businesses today. As NetApp looks to the future, the focus remains on delivering solutions that bring AI to the data, wherever it resides, ensuring that enterprises can leverage their information assets to the fullest extent in the AI era.

Innovations in AI and Data Security

Highlighting the transformative impact of artificial intelligence, the report detailed NetApp’s approach to integrating AI into its core offerings. NetApp aims to democratize AI usage among its clients by simplifying access to powerful AI tools that can seamlessly integrate with existing data infrastructures. This integration facilitates a smoother transition for businesses venturing into AI, ensuring that they can leverage their data more effectively without substantial overhead.

Another focal point was the convergence of AI and robust data security measures. NetApp introduced enhanced security features designed to protect against evolving cyber threats, including a comprehensive ransomware protection guarantee. These advancements underscore NetApp’s proactive stance on cybersecurity, ensuring that client data not only fuels business growth but is also comprehensively safeguarded.

Role of Strategic Partnerships

Partnerships remain a cornerstone of NetApp’s strategy, as evidenced by the introduction of AIPods in collaboration with NVIDIA  and Lenovo. These specialized infrastructure solutions are tailored for intensive AI applications, offering optimized configurations that reduce deployment times and lower entry barriers for businesses looking to harness the power of AI. These partnerships are not just about product enhancement but are strategic alignments that enhance NetApp’s ecosystem, ensuring that innovations reach the market faster and are supported by comprehensive service networks.

Our Perspective

We see NetApp Converge 2024 as a jumping-off point for not just NetApp’s FY25 but a place to a dynamic blend of visionary leadership and concrete technological advancements. The addition of the NetApp AI Pod with Lenovo for NVIDIA continues NetApp’s pursuit of becoming a major player in the “picks and shovels” of the AI movement. The way it ties back, and we believe it is not talked about enough, is that when you have all this data, you must manage and protect it. A key way NetApp facilitates that is through using ONTAP on-premises, colocation, and hyperscale clouds as first-party services. The breadth of solutions with ONTAP as the key data management layer is a convincing factor in organizations building AI-based applications on NetApp so that they can control where the data lives for the AI lifecycle. While this is apparent, they must connect the dots with the rest of the cloud-native software and management titles, such as Spot, Astra, and Cloud Insights. With its finger firmly on the pulse of technological evolution, NetApp is crafting a future where data is not just managed but is a fundamental driver of business innovation and strategic success. As NetApp continues to build on these foundations, the tech landscape watches eagerly, anticipating how these advances will redefine the role of data in shaping tomorrow’s business strategies.

For a full list of interviews that were added to this analysis:

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