Making time for Insight

With Insight US just a few weeks away and as I have still to complete my session calendar for the event, I thought this would be a good time to highlight those sessions that have stood out for me in the hope that it may help you in making a decision. With 307 sessions 238 speakers and 45 exhibitors how do you distil this down to give you something manageable and meaningful?

Now whilst I normally spend more time on a particular track, it is worth asking yourself “What am I going to take home from this conference?” Now are you here to just get as much information as possible or are you here to get skilled up on a particular topic, either for an upcoming project or to break into a new area of business. This is probably something you should decide before you start going hell for leather and filling your calendar with random topics like FlexGroup (is that even a thing?).

On my first pass over the catalogue I had 38 interests which is way too many for even your most hardcore conference attendee to attend so some culling will need to be done. One thing that does bother me and probably every conference attendee, are the time slots where you have 10 interests happening at the same time and the 2 hours prior you have a big blank hole. Thankfully vendors have started to record sessions at conferences for that very reason so for those that you cannot make there is always the ability to review at some other point plus some sessions just hit you with way too much to take in so you may need to hear them a second time.

Cloud Volumes is probably going to be the hot topic this year and with 50 sessions to choose from there’s plenty on offer. The first thing I would suggest is to verify its either a Cloud Volumes ONTAP (formerly known as ONTAP Cloud) or whether it’s a Cloud Volumes Service (NFSaaS) session you have picked and attending so you get the correct information. I’m sure there will be a few people that will get this wrong this year and you don’t want to be one of them.

1228-2 Designing and deploying a Hybrid Cloud with NetApp and VMware Cloud on AWS presented by Chris Gebhardt and Glenn Sizemore is I’m sure to be a popular session and it will hopefully build on the session NetApp gave at Tech Field Day at VMworld US last month.

1261-2 NetApp Cloud Volumes Service Technical Deep Dive presented by Will Stowe is probably going to be one of those sessions people leave and mention to others you need to see. With a huge potential Cloud Volume Service will become integral into many customers data fabric over the coming year So I’d advise getting skilled up on this as soon as you can.

If you are new to all things cloud and wondering where might be a good place to start, then schedule 4117-1 Cloud Volumes Service and 4118-1 Cloud Volumes ONTAP sessions in the Data Visionary theatre at Insight Central to give you a good idea on these two technologies.

Another product name change Cloud Control is out and been rebranded NetApp SaaS Backup; but there is a lot more this SaaS suite offers so with that piece of knowledge there is a session on One Stop Backup for SalesForce 1121-2 and then head on over to 1188-2 for NetApp SaaS Backup for Office 365 to complete the picture.

With Security being a major focus in the IT industry as a whole there are several sessions of note on this subject. 1234-2 – Data Security at NetApp: An Overview of the NetApp Portfolio of Security Solutions by Juan Mojica would be an excellent place to start if you haven’t thought about how begin with such a huge undertaking.

You may want to follow that up with 1103-2 – Securing and Hardening NetApp ONTAP 9 with Andrae Middleton. Remember security teams need to get policies and procedures right 100% of the time, hackers need to only get it right once.

1214-2 What’s On Tap in the Next Major Release of NetApp ONTAP by surviving podcast host Justin Parisi (It has been a bit Hunger Games/Highlander on the tech ONTAP podcast recently) will no doubt fill up fast as any new OS payload draws in the crowd and the Q&A after that session may spill out into the halls.

1136-3 will also be popular as it covers the advancements made with SnapMirror covering best practices for both Flash and Cloud worlds.

It also looks like some of the sponsors have upped their game as well with some excellent sessions. Veeam for instance have 6 sessions to choose from which is great as they are now on the NetApp price book. 9107-2 – Veeam: Veeam Data Availability Deep Dive—Exploring Data Fabric Integrations presented by Michael Cade and Adam Bergh will highlight just some of the great reasons why Veeam have been added to the price book, and then head over to the hands-on labs as Veeam has made it into the Lab On Demand catalogue. Veeam also have a data exchange white board session 8102-1 – Veeam: Availability Outside the Datacenter: Public Cloud & Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 Update 4 which some of you keen eyed people may have noticed will include some information about the anticipated upcoming update 4.

For those of you who like your speed turned up to eleven then you may want to attend 9126-1 – Intel® Optane™ Memory Solutions. I would be remised if I didn’t mention my colleagues at Arrow with their 9112-2 – Arrow: From IoT to IT, Arrow Electronics Is Accelerating your Digital Transformation looking at how to deliver and scale an IT infrastructure to meet the challenges of deploying IoT solutions.

There are also the certification prep sessions and with the release of two new Hybrid cloud certifications by NetApp U recently sessions 1279-1 & 1280-1 will no doubt draw in a crowd, so if you are planning on having a go make sure to get these in your diary, and I may bump in to you there as my Hybrid cloud certification achieved at Insight two years ago is up for renewal.

Now whilst this list is my picks I would suggest you spend a bit of time ahead of going and populate your calendar with the topics you want to hear and do it sooner rather than later, so you can get on the list before the session fills up. Just remember though pretty much all sessions are repeated during the conference and spend some time at insight central as an hour there can be just as beneficial as a session but most of all enjoy yourself. I would strongly suggest you follow the A-team members on twitter for an up to the moment review of sessions and whether catching the second running is worth you amending your calendar; and before you start filling the comments section with “Duh – FlexGroup is a hugely scalable container of NAS storage that can grow to trillions of files and yottabytes of storage there is a session on the topic number 1255-2 FlexGroup: The Foundation of the Next generation NetApp scale-out NAS.

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Time to Stop with the Legacy Backup Solutions

A couple of months ago I attended the UK Veeam ON Forum in London and once my brain had registered that I am not on my way to the Aviva Stadium with several hundred of my fellow countrymen, but am in fact at an IT event things started to make more sense. This was to be a day packed full of information Veeam wanted to share with their partner community, and I am glad to say they didn’t hold back. My key takeaway from the day is the amount of people who lack the proper ability to meet recovery objectives defined within their business and as organisations move to a hybrid cloud that inability is only increasing. When surveyed by ESG, 4 out of 5 respondents disclosed that their current infrastructure cannot keep up with the IT needs of their company and users suffer. Follow up questions in this survey also highlighted that 3 out of 4 organisations were exceeding their allowance for data lost due to an outage. This is mind blowingly huge!

These two areas are referred to as the Availability Gap and Protection Gap and it is clear to see that with the drive for businesses to do more with less and leverage the public cloud we are seeing data bears these burdens and is ultimately losing. I have long proposed to companies “How long can you let your employees sit idle? How damaging for your brand would it be if you could not transact orders or your website was down? And how much money would your business loose in that period of time?” These are just some of the questions that must be asked and answered correctly throughout a piece of data’s life to properly assess and implement a strategy to accurately and properly defend and deliver it with speed back to the business. There seems to be a drive for organisations to implement new technology and upgrade existing hardware but the protection and availability are a secondary or tertiary response. Data is a company’s most valuable asset. Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation’s single most valuable item on their books isn’t the faux Roman architecture hotel in the middle of Las Vegas strip; it’s the company’s big data loyalty program that has been running since 1998 and hold over 45 million member records; with a figure of $1B attached.

This brings together two interesting points how, many companies out there are not taking the time and care with data that concerns me as a customer and also, how insufficient the understanding of the value of the data a company holds about a person or organisation. As a personal consumer, I would be slightly put out and may consider moving my custom if I contacted my butcher for instance to ask for “the same cut I had last week”, yet he had no record of the transaction and my meal is not turning out as nice as I wanted it. But in business what if I were to contact a supplier and say, “you know that last batch of X was great, can I get another 1000 or 10,000 ASAP and put it on my account” well without the proper information at hand I can neither see what that order was to fulfil it again, check if the customer has credit to place such an order and where to ship it once produced. Care and consideration must be taken with this data and how we safeguard it should be as intrinsic as the application that creates and accesses the information.

So why Veeam you may ask? Simply put because they understand the 24 by 7 always on business environment we now live in. This is a 21st century company not constrained by 1980’s backup architectural design and a leader of innovation within their field. So let’s stop talking backup and look at what we really demand: Availability. Over the coming weeks I am going to be looking into why Veeam and their ever-increasing portfolio of products, what it can deliver, how it can quickly and effortlessly meet a company’s availability and protection needs whether on site or in the cloud.

To read the full ESG commissioned report look here