NetApp CTO Jay Kidd resigns and retires from the industry

But he promises the company will still have his advocacy ONTAP


NetApp CTO Jay Kidd has decided to finish his corporate career and is retiring.

Kidd said in a yet-to-go-live blog that "NetApp is a company that has world-class innovation, great people, impeccable ethics, and a culture that suits my personality and values exceptionally well".

He wanted to complete his corporate career there because "I could not imagine a better place to work".

"That time has come and I will be retiring from corporate life this summer. With my youngest off at college, I will shift my time to pursue more personal interests and delve more deeply into the areas of advising and investing," he added.

Kidd says that NetApp is too big to have a single all-encompassing CTO and a CTO community has evolved, "which includes people both in the CTO office as well as in other parts of the organisation".

He signs off by saying; "In my roles here, I have had the chance to work with some of the best people in the industry, both inside and outside the company. It has been an honour and a pleasure, and I will always be an advocate for NetApp."

NetApp is a company set apart by "the passion for innovation, the deeply held commitment to the success of our customers, and the high level of corporate integrity".

Although he said he was 'just a small part of the engine that drives innovation and technology leadership at NetApp", his absence will be missed, with Kidd being widely respected and admired.

His legacy will probably include an ONTAP-first-and-centre mindset in NetApp, with the OS being at the centre of a spiders' data fabric web with strands extending out to the cloud (Amazon), converged systems (Cisco and FlexPod), to hyper-converged appliances (EVO: RAIL connectivity), and all-flash FAS amongst others.

He was supportive of NetApp having a faster-than-FAS, all-flash system, saying in April last year that ONTAP has been extended to support a wide range of workloads, but it would stretch it too far to cover flash, as its primary focus is disk. FlashRay and the EF540/550 systems can run and use flash better than ONTAP.

NetApp has just filed the fifth-fastest all-flash array result on the SPC-1 benchmark, using an all-flash FAS8080 EX.

Taken together with the effective ending of the separate FlashRay product, this suggests that the working out by NetApp of where and how to best use flash technology in its offering has been a difficult journey.

NetApp has no immediate plans to recruit a fresh CTO, stating through a spokesperson: "Our company has a strong team of technical leaders that has worked closely with Jay and will continue to advance NetApp’s innovation leadership."

The company is facing a strong set of industry trends which collectively challenge ONTAP's centrality in its customers' IT environments. The CTO community at NetApp needs to be able to chart the rocks and shoals in the waters ahead and provide its execs with clear and dispassionate advice about the course to take.

Whether that's a job for a CTO community or for a single CTO presenting a single company-wide vision will be a debate for CEOs, board members and business school professors. ®

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