Andre Schmitz with Matt Watts at NetApp Insight

As a 16-year IT veteran and technology agnostic, I can safely say I’m not bored yet! Every day brings new challenges and experiences, and no customer, IT infrastructure, or data center is the same. My journey in this industry has been a continuous learning experience. Staying up to date on the latest technology, whether it’s storage, servers, or virtualization, is a full-time job that keeps me on my toes. I love learning about technology and helping customers solve problems with it, so when I heard NetApp was searching for influencers and passionate technologists to join the new NetApp United team, I immediately sent in my application.

 

For those of you that don’t know, NetApp United is NetApp’s new global influencer program. We don’t work for NetApp, and our opinions are all our own. We help to spark communication about NetApp via our social channels and blogs. In return, we get to leverage NetApp insight, information, expertise, and intelligence straight from the source. This includes getting the head’s up on new products and announcements before they happen, with a direct channel to NetApp engineers and leadership when we need help. And of course, we get the benefit of the combined knowledge and experience of the global NetApp United team, which is truly a unique community in the industry.

 

To me, a great benefit of the NetApp United program is being able to network, share ideas, and exchange opinions with so many other industry experts. At the last Insight in Berlin, it was a great pleasure for me to meet the rest of the team and get to know them “in real life.” We also have a special Slack channel where we can connect with the NetApp A-Team as well as NetApp engineers and leadership. That makes it easy to get answers to any questions about NetApp technology or technical difficulties with a project. The NetApp United program also gave me a big boost for my personal blog, helping me to get recognized as a specialist in my country and around the world. As far as I know, no other storage vendor has a program like this, and it’s been exciting to watch NetApp United grow and evolve over the past several months.

 

I’ve always considered myself to be a NetApp advocate, not only within my company but also with my clients. Working with NetApp is not your typical vendor-partner relationship—it’s a friendship. Every time I have a question, I know that I can reach out to my colleagues at NetApp and they will eagerly share their expertise. In my experience, no other vendor provides that deep level of integration and collaboration between partners and the SEs. While my job requires that I be “vendor-agnostic” (yes, there are indeed other vendors out there!) in solving customer challenges, my relationship with NetApp and its people leads me to choose NetApp solutions time and time again. Not every customer fits in the NetApp portfolio, and the NetApp portfolio doesn’t fit every customer. It’s my job to consult the customers honestly and wisely to find the solution that best meets their requirements.

 

But, of course, it’s also about the technology and the vision. I remember hearing a social media catchphrase from NetApp recently: “Storing is boring.” This is NetApp’s approach to data and the future of our industry. NetApp isn’t thinking about data in terms of how it’s stored, whether it’s on HDDs, SSDs, cloud, etc. NetApp is thinking about how to optimize and manage that data to help customers get the maximum value from it. In my mind, NetApp is the leader in managing data because they understand that it’s not just about storing. If you want to store something, go to Walmart and buy a hard drive. If you want to talk about data, go with NetApp.

 

Then there’s the whole cloud story. NetApp’s cloud integration technology is visionary, whether it’s products like Cloud Control to MS Azure, NFS as a Service, ONTAP Cloud, ONTAP Select, AltaVault, the brand-new NetApp HCI, or storage systems like FAS and AFF. We all know that hybrid cloud is the future. Hot data needs to be on fast, on-premises storage, and cold data needs to be on cheap and deep storage in the cloud. No matter where that data lives, NetApp can help you manage it. Sure, other vendors have these features on their marketing sheets, but with NetApp, I know it works!

 

So, that’s my 2 cents, why I choose NetApp, and why I’m excited to be a part of the NetApp United Team!

 

*drops microphone* (or, rather, a keyboard…or I guess a laptop…whatever).

 

Find out more about the NetApp United program and how to apply at www.netapp.com/NetAppUnited.

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Andre Schmitz

Andre is a Systems Engineer and Consultant at Bechtle, Germany's largest group independent IT service provider, and is based in Konstanz. He works with the sales team to understand customers' challenges and propose innovative solutions to help solve them. He also does the technical planning and implementation of NetApp solutions and data migrations. He's a prolific blogger, with blogs in both German and English, and an active member of the global tech community as part of NetApp United.

When he's not holed up in a cold German data center, you might find Andre in his back yard, working in his home garden, where he grows a variety of herbs and vegetables-although he admits it's mostly potatoes. He is an avid tennis player, and also enjoys geo-caching (or what he refers to as "old-school Pokémon Go).