Meghan Fintland of NetApp’s Corporate Communications team sat down with Robert Benoit, Regional Director, Systems Engineering, for another “People of NetApp” interview. Rob talks about what brought him to the financial services industry and eventually NetApp, as well as the fundamental redesign the industry is going through.
Can you tell us about your career before joining NetApp and what brought you here?
Before joining NetApp 10 years ago, I worked for a large financial services company in a variety of roles, including as a member of the networking, UNIX and storage teams.
NetApp already had a large footprint in our storage infrastructure, when we brought them in to help set up the production database and back-up/recovery services for our NFS UNIX Group.
It was during this time when I really saw the value NetApp brought to the table. I experienced firsthand how easy it was to set up and integrate NetApp’s solutions with our legacy systems. NetApp helped to consolidate a lot of the resources, bringing value to the organization almost immediately.
A couple of years later, the organization relocated the engineering group south. When an opening with NetApp presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity-in large part due to my past experience with the company.
What excites you about the solutions NetApp is providing for financial services organizations?
It is an exciting time to be in the financial services IT industry. The whole industry is going through a fundamental redesign. The advancement of technology and changing business realities mean that companies need to become more flexible, and to do so quickly. To help with that, they’re looking at vendors such as NetApp to deliver greater value through new technology and improved IT services.
This is resulting in a new services-based IT model focused on efficiency. It results in IT workers transitioning from technology custodians to brokers of services. As evidence, look at the increase of public cloud providers, as well as the growing adoption of shadow IT practices.
NetApp’s role in this transformation is to facilitate faster turnaround times and flexibility by providing effective data management solutions. The company also acts in a consultative capacity to help organizations navigate the obstacles during the transformation to the new model.
What role do you see cloud and flash playing now and in the future for financial services?
Both cloud and flash will play critical roles in facilitating the transition toward this new IT services-based model. Moving forward, they will be instrumental in achieving the top three priorities of today’s CIOs:
- Build and integrate the next-generation data infrastructure
- Accelerate applications for tomorrow’s high-performance workloads
- Implement security measures that afford companies the agility and flexibility they need, while providing the right compliance protocols
Whether building new private/hybrid clouds or leveraging public services from AWS, Microsoft or Salesforce, cloud solutions will be integral in the success of next-generation data infrastructures. Cloud solutions will provide organizations with the agility and flexibility needed to handle the workloads of tomorrow, while offering considerable operational expenditures (OPEX) savings.
The same goes for flash technology. With flash, devops teams will be able to accelerate application development and performance when managing increasingly tough workloads, as well as cut down the amount of physical space needed.
What are you hearing from your customers as their biggest IT challenges today?
Large organizations must change their entire structure from a siloed arrangement to a flat structure. At the same time, budgets are getting smaller, so IT departments need to work smarter, be more agile and most importantly be more efficient. That comes down to integrating new, efficient solutions within legacy systems and intelligently deploying them across the organization to get the greatest return on investment.
For organizations that have already committed to the change there are still hurdles to face. The companies I see doing this successfully focus first on the organizational changes, then turn their attention to technological changes. At the end of the day, the technology is only as effective as the teams using it.