If new NetApp CEO George Kurian has a plan it's under his hat

Hints at converged FlexPod, OnTap-as-a-service and NVMe support at Australian event

Newly-appointed NetApp CEO George Kurian today made his first appearance before the press outside the USA and hinted at the directions in which he plans to take the company.

At a media lunch in Sydney, Kurian stuck closely to the script he's followed since hopping into the big chair: the rise of cloud means revenue falls are to be expected; NetApp's data fabric strategy is ideal for users of hybrid cloud (which will be everyone in time); our new products are growing quickly; and more feet on the street telling the data fabric story should turn things around.

So on-script was Kurian that he several times answered questions by saying his remarks in the company's most recent earnings call addressed the issue.

But he also let a few hints slip.

On the company's converged infrastructure plans, he said NetApp is “working on more things with FlexPod.”

“We see the value proposition of continuing to simplify the technology and offer it in more ways,” he said. “There's more innovation coming.”

On software-defined storage he pointed to NetApp's AWS instance of OnTap and said “we will put our software on other platforms.” We'll also “see progress in OnTap” as regards software-defined storage. And that NetApp/Microsoft collaboration on FreeBSD virtualisation announced in 2012 and apparently close to ready for deployment on Azure as of early 2014? Kurian had nothing to say, but Azure is surely on the cards.

On Flash futures, Kurian repeated past promises that NetApp is working on a high availability version of its Flash Ray and said that NVMe will soon come to the products, but that industry efforts to mature the technology with features like hot plugability are needed before it becomes viable.

On NetApp's StorageGrid object storage code, he said development work will continue with a view to helping applications span cloud and on-premises storage.

Kurian came across as very calm and didn't evince enormous passion for the company or the technologies it offers. Perhaps that's just his demeanour. Or perhaps it was the combination of jetlag upon reaching Australia plus what we were told was a jarring domestic flight through a hailstorm on Monday evening. Or maybe it was the calm of man who, after just 90 days in the seat, is pondering the mighty big challenge that lies before him. Nobody would begrudge Kurian time to think: like all leaders in the storage industry he has much to ponder and few obvious responses. ®

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