NetApp CEO Kurian narrows focus to flash, cloud
After keeping a low profile for his first few years on the job, @NetApp CEO @GeorgeKurian spent more time in the spotlight in 2017. NetApp celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017 — the year it became the largest storage-only vendor following Dell’s acquisition of EMC. NetApp’s strategy of moving from its legacy storage products to mainly flash and clustered systems paid off, with four straight quarters of solid growth. In late 2017, NetApp belatedly entered the #hyperconverged market with the NetApp #HCI product built on @SolidFire #flash technology. The NetApp CEO really stepped into the spotlight after the vendor found itself in the center of a mass shooting in Las Vegas on the eve of its Insight user conference. Kurian established himself as the calm amid a tragic storm, as the conference went on after a one-day delay. Attendance was reduced, and the mood was somber. Kurian called for a moment of silence to acknowledge the victims, and he closed his remarks on data mobility with a moving story about his young son’s battle with eye cancer. “That was a set of extraordinary circumstances,” Kurian said. “We appreciate the support of everyone who stayed to help us through it.” Kurian took over as NetApp CEO in 2015, following the ouster of Tom Georgens. At the time, the NetApp cloud fabric was in its infancy, and it was struggling to address a rocky Clustered OnTap rollout. After misreading the flash market, NetApp also had fallen behind all-flash competitors. Now, NetApp’s all-flash FAS platform is outgrowing the market, and its cloud strategy is taking shape around its integrated Data Fabric. A 2017 partnership with Microsoft reinforced its cloud progress, as NetApp started to sell OnTap-based NFS file storage as an on-demand service via the Microsoft Azure cloud.