The NetApp A-Team at NetApp Insight Las Vegas

It all started with a missed phone call followed by a text message from our New Zealand country manager: “How would you like to go to Insight 2017 in Las Vegas? I’m funding you!” NetApp Insight has been on my “awesome things to do list” for some time, but seeing as I’m on the other side of the world, finding travel funding is tough. So naturally (after consulting with my wife, of course), I accepted and texted back “I think I can make it!”


I woke up on Sunday in New Zealand, ready to travel as part of the @NetAppANZ crowd. I met up with the other Kiwis (People from New Zealand) and we were all in great spirits. The flight was delayed due to engine checks (I reckon the pilot lost the key…) but that does not ruin the mood. We were all pretty excited, and not just for Vegas. This was my first time going to the biggest event of the year from one of my favorite tech companies.


Despite a very long trip over two Sundays and several airline delays, we were finally on our decent into Vegas. OMG!! The lights of the city are incredible from the plane! I happened to be sitting next to some folks from the UK who were in town to celebrate a friends’ birthday, and we all had the same ear-to-ear smiles on our faces. The amazement just kept piling on as I got checked into my hotel room. What can I say, everything in Vegas is just “at scale” (excuse the attempted pun for StorageGRID Webscale…). After meeting up with the rest of the Kiwi crew for a quick drink, as I had only been in Las Vegas for 2 hours at that point, we all decided to take a walking tour down the Strip.


The next 18 hours need no further comment, but my experiences during and following those events further cemented my passion for NetApp and its commitment to the well-being of not just customers like me, but everyone at the event. Amy Ngian of @NetAppANZ ensured that at every opportunity, we were safe, informed, and in communication with our loved ones back home. NetApp’s empathy, bravery, and perseverance in the face of tragedy to continue with the event is nothing short of astonishing. I can only admire the tireless work of the event staff and how they conducted themselves.


Amy, did I ever tell you that you are amazing??


Without NetApp’s efforts to continue the conference, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to explore and learn about some cool tech—and it’s not in the future, it’s here today! Most people who know me know that I’m a huge PowerShell advocate. This year’s sessions (and #CodeOn Bar) had me excited about what NetApp is enabling us to do with PowerShell and Python. It’s great to see some focus in this space.


I also attended some HCI sessions. While HCI is primarily focused on VMware and one-click automation, the open nature of HCI and the possibility to integrate with Hyper-V using PowerShell automation in the future is something that really caught my attention. Many other hyper-converged solutions are put in place to solve one problem and end up creating yet another silo. But NetApp’s flexible approach, allowing you to scale compute and storage independently without fear of high technical debt and overprovisioning eliminates these challenges. The introduction of “bring your own Top of Rack switch” eliminates the network silo problem by fitting straight into the existing architecture, lowering provisioning time and training requirements. Not only does NetApp HCI have the potential to be used to solve a wide variety of problems, but you can easily reorganize it to fit other needs.


Another cool technical announcement NetApp made this year is the new Azure Enterprise NFS Service powered by ONTAP. This is a game-changer. With over 33% of Azure virtual machines running Linux, the ability to run native Enterprise NFS services backed by ONTAP is going to be huge. I’m really looking forward to finding out and playing with it more as it evolves.


But this year’s Insight was not just about the tech. It gave me another awesome opportunity to start my next life-changing adventure—my journey with the NetApp A-Team!


After a great (albeit somewhat long) conversation with Sam Moulton, she introduced me to the team. I would like to thank everyone on the NetApp A-Team for immediately making me feel welcome. For those that were there on Wednesday evening, all I can say is, “Sam Moulton, sugar packets, and chills.”


I’m excited to get to know everyone in my new tech family, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I know I’ve made some friends for life (I’m talking about you Atanas Prezhdarov), and I guess you could say the rest is history.

Phillip Hardy

Phillip is an Infrastructure Architect for NZX, New Zealand’s Securities Exchange and Energy Market. He’s been a die-hard NetApp advocate since before he started at NZX over 7 years ago, and has been involved with the majority of NZX’s NetApp projects, including one of the first FlexPod implementations in New Zealand.

Most recently, Phillip served as the Project Technical Lead in NZX’s initiative to relocate and reduce its footprint from four major siloed data centers to a private, shared services model, enabling ~60% savings in power, housing, and operational costs.

Phillip has been in the IT Industry for over 22 years and is also passionate about PowerShell, Python automation, Cisco UCS, and networking. Like many “Kiwis,” Phillip loves to adventure in the great outdoors. Whether he’s tramping through some Tolkien-esque wilderness or scaling rocky outcroppings, he’s always up for a bit of a challenge.