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CRN Exclusive: NetApp's Dave Hitz Talks Software-Defined Storage, Outlines How Challenging It Would Be To Acquire The 'New NetApp'

The co-founder and executive vice president tells CRN that NetApp's unique position in managing data across on-premises and public and private cloud environments would make it hard to acquire the company without destroying its value.

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Frank Talk From NetApp Co-founder On NetApp's Surprising Recovery, Bright Future

Forget about calling NetApp a storage vendor. Sure, it is a storage vendor -- indeed, the only top five storage vendor to show any growth -- but that description limits how customers and investors view the company, Dave Hitz told CRN.

Hitz, co-founder and executive vice president in charge of future strategy and direction, met with CRN during last week's NetApp Insight 2017 conference in the wake of news that Microsoft has adopted NetApp's NFS technology for its Azure cloud while NetApp has expanded its hybrid on-premises and cloud management capabilities with Amazon Web Services.

NetApp is unique among storage vendors in that it is not part of a larger server vendor and in its commitment to managing data across on-premises and cloud environments, Hitz said. That would make it very hard for a larger company to attempt an acquisition because such a move would likely destroy the very thing that makes NetApp so valuable, he said.

Hitz also became one of the few executives of a top storage vendor to say his company could indeed get rid of its hardware and be more successful than as a hardware company, although he admitted investors might have trouble understanding that.

Here's a very frank discussion of NetApp's true value in the storage and cloud businesses.

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