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NetApp Insight 2023: All the news and announcements

Stay up to date with all the announcements and news from NetApp Insight 2023

NetApp logo displayed at the NetApp Insight 2023 conference in Las Vegas, USA
(Image: © ITPro/Ross Kelly)

Welcome to ITPro's live coverage of day three at the NetApp Insight 2023 conference. 

After two busy days packed with announcements and news from NetApp, this morning's keynote sessions will round things off with another overview of the company's future outlook. 


While we're waiting for things to start, why not catch up on some of our coverage from the conference so far?

NetApp aims to become ‘true data pipeline’ for enterprises with latest AI updates

NetApp CEO: Hybrid cloud will be the only way to capitalize on generative AI

The keynote theatre is starting to fill up ahead of the opening session here at NetApp Insight 2023. 

Some groovy tunes to get things going. 

NetApp Insight 2023 headliner stage at MGM grand

(Image credit: ITPro/Ross Kelly)

CEO George Kurian is first up today with an 'insight primer', giving us a run through all the latest developments at NetApp. A big welcome for George as he takes the stage. 

NetApp CEO George Kurian

(Image credit: Future)

This is the first in-person NetApp Insight since 2019. It's been a while, and there's been no shortage of disruption since the last event here in Vegas. 

A global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, conflicts, you name it. All of this has had an impact on global business. The years ahead will be defined by how businesses overcome the lingering effects of these disruptions and rebound. 

Data leaders, not "data laggers", Kurian says, will be the ones who deliver success for their businesses in the years ahead. Data-driven, AI-ready businesses are in a prime position to capitalize on new technologies and opportunities. 

Being data-driven and AI ready starts with "having a cohesive data strategy and organization", Kurian says. 

A top down approach to transformation is antiquated. Businesses have to view transformation as a unified, cross-functional and cross-division push. 

Businesses must develop a modern data architecture, Kurian says. This should be a strong focus in the coming months for those looking to unlock the value of their data, optimize their operations, and deliver marked benefits. 

But it's not a one-size-fits-all approach here. Businesses are too hasty with transforming their data architecture, and it causes harm to agility and performance. 

"We're not one to tell you to transform every level of your stack, what we say is transform the right parts of your data architecture and consolidate and simplify other parts to give you agility," he says. 

"A modern data architecture is the technological foundation stone of a data-driven enterprise."

This is where NetApp comes in.

"Over the last few years as we have worked with our customers, we've realized that customer needs for data management have expanded," Kurian says. 

NetApp is focusing heavily on "dynamic workloads", he adds, such as generative AI. 

NetApp has a raft of recent updates that are centered around enabling generative AI innovation among partners and customers. 

"AI is a major disruptor", he says. Kurian wants to make NetApp customers the "winners" in the ongoing generative AI race, not the "laggers". 

"Trust us, AI runs on data, data runs on NetApp."

Ai expert Dr Fei-Fei Li is our first guest at NetApp Insight today for a fireside chat with Kurian. 

Dr Li says we're at a "special moment, an inflection moment" with regard to generative AI. This has been combined with a "public awakening moment". 

Dr Fei-Fei Li and George Kurian on stage at NetApp Insight

(Image credit: Future)

Dr Li led the ImageNet project in 2007, which revolutionized machine learning and was a landmark moment in the global technology industry. 

Li is giving us a fascinating insight into the project, and how those early machine learning advancements have parallels to the current acceleration in the generative AI boom. 

Li says amidst all the current hype, there is a tendency to obsess on the models and their capabilities within restrictive parameters. How can this improve a certain aspect of our work? How can this optimize a certain business process?

The truly exciting possibilities are how this can support creativity. 

Li works closely with lawmakers and regulators to examine how emerging technologies can have a negative impact on broader society. There's been a lot of scare stories so far this year over the potential harms of the technology, including the prospect of mass AI-related job losses. 

Li says it's critical that we examine these technologies critically to "understand what's under the hood" and forecast risk and recommend important policies. 

"We brought this technology into the world, we should be seeing that this is used for the public good," she says. 

There's "so much fear mongering around AI", Kurian says. 

Li says this has become her "favorite topic for the last five years" as it's a topic often overblown. 

"The relationship between humanity and technology has been a profound and ancient one. We've never stopped innovating and every step of the way we've had to redefine ourselves with the tools we invent."

She says we "need to be careful" over AI-related scaremongering. 

"My view of AI's role in our world is to augment humanity, but not taking away our dignity. Not taking away our human agency."

That's not to say this isn't a serious topic that needs addressed, Li warns. 

"There will be pain, and if we're not careful we'll have social unrest."

Our next guest is...Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud CEO and George's twin brother. 

Thomas is going to give us a run down of how Google is innovating in generative AI and its current cloud strategy focus. 

Thomas and George Kurian on stage at NetApp Insight 2023

(Image credit: Future)

Generative AI has such wide ranging implications for businesses, Thomas says. 

CIOs are using the technology to modernize IT operations. Generative AI is being used by software engineers and developers, HR representatives, customer service workers. 

George asks how Google Cloud is responding to concerns around hallucinations, privacy, and security associated with generative AI. 

Thomas says the company is investing heavily in Vertex AI. 

"Vertex runs in a private environment. No-one, even Google staff, have access to your data," he says. 

"We have 18 types of controls. We have grounding to make sure that model answers are grounded in fact and are fresh and current, not when the model finished training," Thomas adds. 

NetApp and Google Cloud have a very close working relationship. The two firms have recently integrated the NetApp Volumes platform with Vertex AI. 

NetApp's long-standing relationship with the hyperscalers, including AWS and Microsoft, is a key differentiator for the firm as far as its standing in the cloud storage space goes. 

NetApp Volumes and Vertex AI are helping unlock the value of unstructured data. 

George says this is going to "make breakthrough advances so easy and simple" for developers and organizations globally. 

We've moved onto sustainability now. And there's a lot of chatter about the environmental impact of generative AI at present. 

Thomas says that Google Cloud has been carbon neutral for some time now, but it plans to go further. This includes new data center designs and new cooling systems aimed at improving machine efficiency. 

Reducing power consumption, latency, and energy efficiency are all key objectives at present. There's a lot to be excited about though. With uncharted territory comes innovation, and data centers will absolutely benefit from this generative AI wave in terms of long-term advancements. 

Moving onto security now. Another key focus for NetApp at present, George says. 

"Over the last 15 years or so cyber has tried to protect everything. Servers and networks and identities and so on," he says. 

George adds that a rethink of data security is required, however. 

He believes that if leaders assume the probability of being compromised, then organizations would naturally focus heavily on their crown jewels. This inverted approach to security, as he describes it, must become a priority moving forward.

To discuss this topic, George is joined by Jen Easterly, director of CISA, to discuss how advances in AI represent both a challenge and opportunity for security practitioners and organizations globally.

Generative AI has generated a lot of excitement in terms of the possibilities for businesses. But the flip side to this is that it could be used for nefarious means, such as disinformation and in cyber crime. 

"It's important to be able to put in place measures for responsible innovation," she says. "These aren't going to be the most powerful capabilities of our time, but also the most powerful weapons."

CISA Director Jen Easterly at NetApp Insight 2023

(Image credit: Future)

Easterly says that in the era of generative AI, security by design has to be a key priority for developers and innovators in this space. 

CISA is in the process of outlining a roadmap for responsible AI development, and its potential use in cyber defence. To achieve these goals, this will require greater collaboration between the public and private sector, Easterly says. 

A secure by design revolution could emerge due to recent generative AI advances, Easterly says. 

The reality is that governments and businesses globally can't take the risk with poorly created AI-powered products and services. The potential implications of compromise due to poorly created products could be devastating. 

Easterly says it took 20 years of work to implement legislation requiring drivers to wear seatbelts in the United States. This is a comparable situation, she adds. There is an obvious risk here, and everyone can see it. In this scenario, however, regulations and legislation have to be introduced quickly. 

"We can't wait that long," she says. 

Working with private sector will have a positive impact and accelerate efforts to introduce responsible AI regulations and legislation, Easterly says. NetApp is among the partners collaborating with CISA on both AI and security best practice. 

NetApp president Cesar Cernuda is up next at NetApp Insight to explore some of the most exciting partnerships the firm currently has, including its work supporting Lockheed Martin. 

Lockheed Martin is a long-standing customer of NetApp cloud storage solutions, which help support innovation in areas such as disaster prevention and space exploration. 

NetApp Insight 2023

(Image credit: Future)

Cesar is taking things from here and wants to take us "into the worlds of fantasy" with a look at the company's partnership with visual effects company, Weta FX. 

Kathy Gruzas, CIO at Weta FX, has joined Cesar on stage. The visual effects company has worked on films such as the Avatar series. The sheer volume of data processed during the development process in an individual film is enormous, Gruzas says. 

"This required significant quantities of data generated by a significant pipeline," she says. 

Visual effects production requires serious storage capabilities, Gruzas adds. Performance, efficiency, and reliability are key requirements. 

The first Avatar film required one petabyte of storage capacity for the visual effects developers. The second needed 23 petabytes. A major jump in performance requirements, and NetApp played a key role in supporting this and making the movie possible. 

A quick fire session there with Weta FX. George Kurian is back on the stage now to round things off in the opening session. 

George announces that the firm will expand its Data Explorers support scheme for young people hoping to pursue careers in the technology industry. 

It's a scheme he's immensely proud of, George says. 

That's all from the first keynote session at NetApp Insight. We hope you've enjoyed our coverage so far. We'll be back tomorrow with the day-two highlights and announcements. 

There are a raft of upcoming product reveals, so remember to tune in!

Things are heating up at the headliner mainstage ahead of the day two keynote sessions here at NetApp Insight. Some more live music to liven things up. 

NetApp Insight headliner mainstage at the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas

(Image credit: Future)

We'll be hearing from Harv Bhela, NetApp's chief product officer, and Haiyan Song, EVP and GM for CloudOps will be guiding us through the morning session today at Insight with a "deeper dive" of all the latest developments at NetApp. 

Reflecting on yesterday's opening keynote, Haiyan says security and AI are among the key talking points at NetApp and among its customer base. 

NetApp Insight 2023

(Image credit: Future)

Flexibility is another key focus, says Harv. Customers crave flexible, agile and streamlined data storage as many look to transform how they maximize the use of their data and unlock value. 

Harv is taking things from here with a look at the latest unified storage announcements from NetApp. Unified storage is still evolving, Harv says. 

"NetApp has expanded what unified data storage means. Any data type, any workload, on any storage protocol from file to block to object and deliver it anywhere," he adds. 

"This is going to be a very exciting year for our flash portfolio," Harv adds. 

The company recently brought out its A150, the "best entry level all flash performance system on the market", he says. 

NetApp also announced the AFF C-Series. This, he reveals, is the fastest growing product in the company's history. 

Finally, the NetApp ASA S-Series offers "industry leading efficiency and availability with future-proofed cloud connectivity". 

NetApp advance is another source of immense exciting at the firm. Guaranteed efficiency, ransomware recovery, and availability. 

Software licensing has also been "simplified" with ONTAP One. The most "comprehensive data management suite in the world" and a "huge shift" for the firm in terms of capabilities. 

NetApp certainly is hammering home its goal of "breaking down silos" in data management. But why's this important?

"It gives you simplicity of deployment, of management, consistency of automation," Harv says. "That's important in the world we live in with all the changes we have to confront"

The new ASA C-Series has been officially unveiled. Up to 70% better energy efficiency compared to competitor offerings, the firm says. 

The newest member of the ASA family. 

"The industry's best portfolio of data center solutions. The best data storage ownership experience, and the best data management suite," Harv says. 

NetApp ASA C-Series

(Image credit: Future)

There's more here. Today's announcements aren't limited to flash storage, Harv says. 

The firm is deepening ties with the three hyperscalers - Google, AWS, and Azure - to provide enterprise-grade storage in the cloud. 

This is a unique arrangement. The hyperscalers "don't do this with anyone else", Harv adds. A key differentiator for NetApp as it leaves competitors in the dust. 

"I'm hearing from some of our competitors that we have cloud offerings too. But what, it only took ten years after us to recognize that customers need storage in the cloud and on-prem," Harv says. 

These relationships are helping customer solve the frequent problems encountered when shifting to the cloud. 

We're moving on now with some vmware-related announcements...

NetApp has 20,000 customers that rely on NetApp every day to support vmware workloads. The firm also remains the only cloud storage vendor working with vmware for on-prem storage. 

A new high availability feature for disaster recovery is coming to ONTAP. This will offer customers a far more simplified and "undisruptive" process. 

We're going to hear from a customer that's really "laser focused" on how to use NetApp products to "change the future", Harv says,

Phil Adams, CTO of the national ignition facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is up on stage now. 

Last year, the lab made history with a breakthrough that was six decades in the making. One that has the "potential to change the future of clean energy". 

Adams said scientists demonstrated nuclear fusion ignition for the first time ever. 

This controlled fusion ignition is no longer a dream, but a tangible reality, Adams says. 

The Lawrence Livermore National Lab relies on NetApp storage solutions, Adams says. 

To support this kind of leading edge research, the infrastructure must be reliable, maintainable, and flexible," he adds. 

The lab keeps vast quantities of data, 30 years' worth, in fact. NetApp underpins all of this. 

Data protection, naturally, is a big focus at the lab. Such sensitive, cutting-edge research is a natural target for threat actors. NetApp is supporting the lab with ransomware threat protection and supporting its efforts to implement a zero trust policy. 

On the topic of data protection...we're talking ransomware and resilience. 

"Sometimes hackers are trying to make money by targeting you, or by harming your reputation," Harv says. 

"They are after your most valuable asset. Your data. That's a risk no-one can afford to take."

Harv says NetApp's goal is to build the most secure storage in the world. 

ONTAP can help this, Harv says. The solution includes "multi-admin" verification features and tamperproof snapshots to prevent data destruction, he says. 

It also harnesses machine learning to offer the "industry first automatic ransomware detection and protection" features. 

This represents the industry' best, most secure data storage solution against ransomware. 

"We are so damn confident in this, we guarantee it with our ransomware recovery guarantee," Harv says. 

NetApp plans to extend its guarantee to cover all of ONTAP on-prem systems, he adds. The recovery assurance service will ensure that "systems are protected against ransomware". 

"If the worst does happen, you will automatically get 365 day, 24/7 recovery services. If somehow we can't recover this data - which I honestly don't know how that can happen - we will stand behind that with our guarantee."

We're switching gears now for a look at AI and data management. 

"AI requires an intelligent data infrastructure that is simple to deploy, and yet scalable to process and deliver that massive amount of data at the right time," Harv says. 

AI also exposes enormous amount of data - both structured and unstructured - across an organizations' data estate. This means that data protection is paramount in the age of AI, according to Harv

Charlie Boyle, VP for DGX Systems at Nvidia has joined Harv on stage now to discuss the company's relationship with NetApp. 

"We're on the journey of simplifying AI and absorb it into their infrastructures," Boyle says. 

NetApp and Nvidia have long-standing ties dating back to 2018, he adds. To make the best use of AI, companies have to maximize their use of data. But they need something that's easy to use, Boyle says. 

Simplifying IT infrastructure and data storage gives data scientists breathing room to continue to innovate without significant hurdles. 

Nvidia's enterprise AI software stack is all underpinned by NetApp ONTAP, Boyle says. 

Nvidia's Charlie Boyle on stage at NetApp Insight 2023

(Image credit: Future)

In the age of generative AI, so much corporate data is "sitting somewhere in the cloud", but NetApp is helping to unlock this data in a hybrid cloud capacity, bring it on-prem, and deliver value. 

Haiyan is back on stage now to round things off in the keynote session and explore how NetApp is investing heavily to support data infrastructure transformation among partners and customers. 

"We're focused on making your data infrastructure more intelligent," she says. "The main theme of this conference is about turning disruption into opportunities.

Recent changes in the tech world have brought a whole new raft of corporate lingo, she adds, as well as a lot of complexity. 

"Hybrid cloud, multi-cloud, public cloud, DevOps, SecOps" and more mean that things can become confusing for customers. 

NetApp is "focusing its solutions" to simplify cloud operating models. 

NetApp's instaclustr data services enabling customers to transform their data environments and IT infrastructure, Haiyan says. 

Spot is also helping with public cloud optimization, she adds. Major efficiency boosts and cost savings are being unlocked by customers using this service. 

Daniel Cap, product operations manager at Nubank is the latest guest to join us today. 

Nubank has been growing rapidly in recent years, serving customers in Latin America. 

Seven out of ten people in Latin America are unbanked, he says. Major income inequality. Nubank hopes to address this and make banking more accessible. 

It's just reached its 90 million customer mark

The bank has no traditional brick and mortar branches though - it operates entirely in the cloud. 

This presented challenges with how to scale efficiently, Capp says. This was why a "reliable partner" in storage was critical to supporting this rapid growth. 

Nubank uses SpotOcean, Capp says. It's the underpinning foundation across its entire architecture. This has helped the bank drive automation in Kubernetes and optimize costs. 

Capp says Spot has helped drive efficiency. But it's not just about costs. 

"Efficiency means scaling everything efficiently. Not only the infrastructure, but also the teams as well," he says. 

And with that we've reached the end of the keynote session this morning. Harv is back on stage to round things off for us. 

Reflecting on yesterday's keynote, Harv echoes George Kurian's comments. We're absolutely "in the age of data", but it's up to organizations to maximize how they use this data to deliver success. 

"We are ready for the new era, the era of intelligent data infrastructure and AI applications," Haiyan adds. 

We hope you've enjoyed our coverage so far at NetApp. We'll be back tomorrow to provide all the news and announcements in the final keynote session of the week. 

Not long to go now until the first keynote this morning. 

Some very live loud music to complement a few sore heads today after yesterday's evening function. 

NetApp president Cesar Cernuda and Jenni Flinders, SVP, worldwide partner group will be up first this morning. 

NetApp Insight 2023 main stage

(Image credit: Future)

We'll be "connecting all the dots" from the two previous days to bring things full circle, according to Cesar. 

"On day one, George shared our vision and what drives us forward - our 'it factor'," Cesar says. 

We've been through the latest AI-related developments at NetApp, data transformation, the future of hybrid cloud, and security. 

On the topic of data transformation, Cesar says we're "making decisions for the future". That's what separates NetApp in the cloud storage space. 

Our first guest at Insight this morning is Timbaland. He'll be discussing inspiration in his career, the use of technology in music, and how technology can play a role in powering creativity and productivity. 

Timbaland on stage at NetApp Insight 2023

(Image credit: Future)

"Because I'm like a horse that runs the race. I keep blinders on and I don't get strayed away from what I do," Timbaland says on maintaining creativity levels. 

"Everyone wants to work smarter and harder," he adds. 

With innovation comes trepidation. Emerging technologies such as generative AI have been a source of concern both across the technology industry, but broader society. 

Embracing change is a powerful thing, however. Without adapting, we can't unlock the benefits of generative AI. 

NetApp as an organization has a lot in common with Timbaland. They're both anticipating 'customer needs', in some capacity. 

Timbaland's 'B Club' for content and music creators is exploring how to support young aspiring musicians and artists. 

Timbaland is 'just the coach' in this situation, though, much like NetApp. Giving partners and clients the tools and inspiration to drive creativity and offering a helping hand along the way. 

B Club is a platform and a marketplace for artists to promote their own music content. It's all about democratizing access for creators and young people. 

"Many artists are getting their music licensed" through the B Club platform. 

There are parallels between data and talent in the music industry. 

68% of all data is just sitting dormant and unused. Organizations are missing out on enormous value from not maximizing the use of that data. 

"Imagine if 68% of all artists in the music industry weren't active." 

The industry would be missing out on huge value. Unlocking that is the key to success in both instances here. 

Timbaland has been experimenting with AI, he says. 

"Every artist is going to use AI," he believes. Eventually, musicians won't want to miss out on the potential benefits of integrating AI within their workflows to support creativity. 

AI-generated voice samples are a source of excitement for Timbaland. 

There's a lot of people "converting" to using AI in the music industry because it's helping them become better musicians, Timbaland says. 

On a final parting note, Timbaland says it's critical to embrace opportunity, be bold, and take risks. 

"We're in the middle of a paradigm shift. Everyone in this room has to teach one to shift with the paradigm," he says. 

Cesar is back on the stage now to give us a run through how technology can benefits society. AI, in particular, is a tool that can "really serve everyone" and should be embraced. 

"We need to have that technology that can really help you change the world," he says. 

Partnerships and collaboration are critical as well to support innovation. NetApp is focusing heavily on its partner relationships, specifically in driving AI adoption, Cesar says. 

To give us a deeper insight on this topic, Jenni Flinders will be joining us. 

"We're always looking for ways to deliver value for our partners," Flinders says. 

This is about meeting customer expectations and needs on a rolling basis to help them adapt to rapid industry changes, 

Jenni Flinders and Cesar Cernuda on stage at NetApp Insight 2023

(Image credit: Future)

Offering NetApp natively on all three major hyperscalers is a big differentiator, Flinders says. This offers customers huge flexibility in how they approach their cloud strategy. 

"Our partners are NetApp's 'it factor'," Flinders says. NetApp is fostering closer ties with vmware, which we heard about yesterday. 

Flinders unveils a new vmware partnership to help drive virtual environment modernization for customers. 

Flinders announces NetApp's 'partner innovation' award winner for 2023. 

Clusterpower is this year's winner. The company has been using AI to drive sustainability and enhance customer service solutions. 

NetApp Insight 2023 mainstage

(Image credit: Future)

Cesar is back at the helm in the keynote session now.

We're "celebrating a birthday today", he says. The anniversary of a dynamic partnership with Microsoft on the NetApp Native Azure File Service. 

It's one of the fastest growing services on Azure, he says, and has helped customers streamline workload migrations. 

NetApp has deep ties with Microsoft and views the tech giant as a vital partner organization. There's been a lot accomplished between the two firms over the last four years. 

We've also got a new product announcement here today with the launch of the new standard storage with cool access service on Azure. 

The partnership will enable customers to streamline and optimize costs by shifting cold data off to Azure storage, Cesar says. 

"It's more cost effective and more sustainable," Cesar says. "The beauty is that users will not see the difference in the way data is presented and continued access to all files."

We're coming to a close here now at NetApp Insight, with Cesar reflecting on the last three days. 

A few thoughts on what we've discussed at the event this week from Cesar:

"AI runs on NetApp", he says. "We know the opportunities AI offers to your business."

NetApp is "all in" on artificial intelligence and aims to support customers exploring the use of generative AI tools in the coming months and years.  

Security has also been a key talking point throughout the conference this week, Cesar adds. 

The company has a great track record on security, he says, and provides "the most secure storage on the planet". 

"We pride ourselves on the fact that customers can rely on our technology."

Finally, NetApp's position in the cloud storage industry is unrivalled. 

It's the only data infrastructure company working with the three largest hyperscalers. Closer relationships with AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. 

Competitors can't match this. Truly best in class, Cesar says. 

"What a great few days together here. We had powerful stories from our customers and partners," Cesar says. "I'm extremely thankful to everyone being here, to our customers, our partners. 

And that's all from the keynote session this morning. A fantastic three days of content and a great insight (no pun intended) into all the current developments at NetApp, as well as future plans. 

We hope you've enjoyed our coverage of the conference. Be sure to keep tabs on the ITPro site and newsletter for all of our coverage as it continues rolling out.