In this edition of Inside Your Data Fabric, I met with a key member of NetApp’s professional services consulting team, Spencer Hamons. Hamons, an executive architect at NetApp, comes with over 20 years of experience as a CIO in the healthcare sector. That experience makes him a rockstar advisor for companies that come to NetApp asking for guidance on where to take their enterprise infrastructure next.
The biggest obstacle to successful cloud adoption among enterprises isn’t as simple as the practical business of migrating to the cloud and managing your data in a totally new infrastructure: at its root, enterprises struggle because of a lack of real information. They may have data that tells them that their infrastructure simply isn’t working well, but they lack a holistic understanding that would allow them to implement strategic changes—changes that really make sense based on their unique use case. Hamons calls this quandy “DRIP,” or data-rich-information-poor, a hypothesis of his own devising.
The more complex your operation and infrastructure, the more out of control it’s likely to become without adequate information. Some areas of invisibility might be a surge in I/O that isn’t traceable (but high usage almost always, Hamons notes, goes back to “that guy” who eats up gigabytes of data for a mid-morning snack), or shadow IT that dries up money, storage, and resources.
The data is there, but it’s simply too big to assess in a meaningful way. That’s where the professional services consulting team at NetApp comes in (and Cloud Insights, if you are interested).
Saying ‘Yes’ to Customers, Regardless of the Challenge
Hamons' goal is to say ‘yes’ to customers, regardless of the request.
“One of the biggest challenges of cloud in general is...not the technology of IT, but the business,” he emphasized in our conversation. His team’s mission is to investigate enterprise problems in a timely manner, to provide a fact-based assessment (the ‘information rich’ complement to the DRIP hypothesis), and to share that data, along with the right analytics tools to enable customers to understand NetApp’s assessment and recommendations.
Rather than throwing one-off information at customers, Hamon’s team teaches continued best practices for operational analytics. That way, users know they’re doing the right thing, in the right place, at the right time, with the right people and, of course, using the right tools.
The Goal Isn’t to Sell NetApp; It’s to Give Clarity
Although the consulting team is a branch of NetApp, and a crucial one, their goal isn’t simply to sell software to customers; it’s to find real solutions that will help them to manage their enterprise better. Most team members come with decades of experience as CIOs or COOs, and they’re keenly aware of the challenges that leaders face in the day-to-day management of a company or IT department.
The professional services team “are not storage admins,” Hamons noted, “We have done IT leadership at different levels of the organization and with different specialties and we’re bringing that [experience] to our customers.”
Identify, Investigate, Improve IT
Many of the customers that Hamons encounters in his work have a long-term relationship with NetApp.
“They come in saying to us: I don’t know how to get where I want to be. I don’t want to go out and pay a half a million dollars in consultant fees….to do a six-month evaluation. I need something that I can act upon quickly, and I want it to be based on data,” Hamons said. Hamons’ team is “attentive to the real problem,” he added. “We identify it. Investigate it. And then suggest a [real] solution, not a catch-all IT solution…It all depends upon the business problem that we’re trying to solve for.”
Save a Million Dollars a Year With a Few Strategic Changes
Hamons is no stranger to the realities of product ownership, and he has no illusions about the need for constant uptime, high availability, and predictable performance. “These are billion-dollar industries that have based their reputation and what they can do. Billions of dollars on simplicity and ease of use.”
The consulting arm of NetApp has all the pieces in place that allow them to take a systematic approach to user problems, but the approach they take is flexible, responding to each customer’s unique situation. They propose solutions that keep entire industries running around the clock—no compromises. Generally, Spencer believes, the simplest method is the best method.
NetApp consultants have dealt firsthand with expensive (and costly) problems, and they’re keenly aware of the pressure of running in high-stake industries. “I think that one of the most satisfying aspects for me is that whenever I can walk into a customer…and we realize that we can save them hundreds of thousands of dollars a quarter, sometimes even $100,000 a month simply by considering how they architect their cloud-based architecture.”
The Key to Cloud Success?
“It wasn’t that we were coming in and installing some great tool,” Hamons concluded, “it was just thinking about it a little differently.”
Want to Learn How to Avoid DRIP?
Watch this interview with Spencer Hamons to learn how NetApp consultants work with your company to outline a top-of-the-line infrastructure strategy. To learn more about NetApp products, visit Cloud Central. To touch base with a consultant at NetApp, just say hi!