I spent a few days in Vegas last week attending the Gartner Data Center Infrastructure and Operations Summit. Despite my dislike of Vegas, I really enjoyed the summit, its great content, lots of small roundtables, keynotes and plenty of analyst time.


Gartner Events staff told me it was a record-breaking event for them in terms of attendees, sponsorships and revenues. With 2,500+ IT professionals representing just about every industry, it was a little biased toward the large-scale enterprise, and nothing wrong with that from a SolidFire perspective.


One of the event’s key themes was that we are now in an era of “bimodal lT,” where enterprise IT organizations are splitting into two very distinct groups: one taking care of the traditional IT operations, running today’s enterprise apps and charged with the typical enterprise operations. The other is being charged with exploring and developing the infrastructure to support the next-generation applications and services that are quickly entering the data center.


Gartner claimed that, according to surveys of their end-user client base, 75% of enterprises are experiencing this bifurcation of IT, and of that 75%, half will fail.


I had a chance to quiz a few Gartner analysts on why they thought so many organizations would fail, and it came down to these two things:


  1. Trying to apply traditional IT mentality to next-generation applications and services
  2. Failing to adopt new technologies, relying on traditional vendors to solve next-generation challenges

It was clear throughout the conference that Gartner’s advice to their clients was that to ensure the future of their organizations, they must — not should, but must — proactively establish a “second mode” IT organization focused on technology and services innovation.


If you are not preparing for the future of IT, you are risking the future of your business.


Gartner analysts I spoke with also took the time to point out that successful deployment of an exploratory IT team will not be easy; you will have to challenge the way you think as an IT professional, accept risk and get comfortable with a pace of change that is very different from the current way IT operates.


The storage-specific sessions I sat through echoed the messages above. But the storage-specific advice was:


  1. Flash is here and it’s mainstream; you need to be evaluating and deploying now. Gartner’s session presenters predicted that by 2019, 25% of all mission-critical workloads would be deployed on all-flash arrays. They also polled a live audience of more than a 1,000 enterprise IT professionals, asking “What (storage) technology will be most important to you in 2015?” The winning technology, with over 42% of votes, was flash.
  1. Understand your workloads. Presenters challenged the audience to rethink availability and performance and really understand the needs of every workload they are deploying and use that understanding to drive their technology decisions. They also suggested that IT leaders rethink backup and recovery, predicting that by 2016, 20% of large-scale organizations will employ only snapshot and replication techniques, abandoning traditional approaches to backup/recovery.
  1. Invite new/emerging vendors in to obtain new ideas. Put every storage requirement out to RFP and bring in the new guys on the block. It’s probably not a big surprise that I fully agree with that thinking. If you want to succeed at “second mode IT,” you have to think differently, challenge the storage status quo and look at technologies specifically designed to meet the needs of the next generation data center.

To find out why Gartner ranked SolidFire #1 in their latest Critical Capabilities for Solid State Arrays report, access your free download here.


We look forward to talking with you soon.

James Whitemore

James Whitemore is the Chief Marketing Officer at NetApp. He is responsible for advancing the company’s global marketing strategy and strengthening market recognition to accelerate growth.

As a veteran of the cloud computing, networking and storage industry, James has more than 25 years of experience leading and implementing successful global sales, product management and marketing strategies. A key part of the team since joining NetApp via the SolidFire acquisition in early 2016, James has been central to the development and execution of our Marketing strategy to reposition NetApp from storage to data and the cloud.

In his previous role as VP of Field & Demand Marketing at NetApp, James built and led a modern demand engine as well as managed Field and Partner Marketing, Demand Centers, Global Campaigns, Event Marketing, Digital Marketing, Social, Influence and Community Marketing.

As CMO at SolidFire, James led the mission to advance the way the world uses cloud and was responsible for all corporate, product, and field marketing functions. Prior to SolidFire, James has led sales and marketing functions in cloud orientated start-up companies holding a variety of sales and marketing positions in Europe, Asia and the U.S. with SAVVIS, Sun Microsystems, IBM, StorageTek and Standard Telephones and Cables.

James holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from Northumbria University in the UK.

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