EMC's Cisco alliance won it NBN Co's business: NetApp

Claims of nefarious vendor FUD on Virgin Blue's IT crash

NetApp has conceded that arch-rival EMC’s alliance with Cisco is paying dividends, effectively securing its recent $9.5 million NBN Co contract win.

At a recent media event, NetApp A/NZ vice president, Peter O’Connor, said NetApp had decided to not bid on the major tender.

“[Bidding on the NBN tender] was a little bit challenging for us as the three key storage decision makers inside NBN are all ex-NetApp users — one from Suncorp and two from BT — but they told us that a bid from NetApp wouldn’t be credible as we couldn’t combine the server, the networking … the whole stack, basically.

“Whilst I think they have a preference for our storage, it wasn’t going to be viewed as a credible and we weren’t interested in priming it.

“Unfortunately in this case Cisco decided in the early days to work with EMC and when we approached them to consider NetApp they already said they were locked to the hip with EMC… it is a matter of getting there first and building these relationships early,” said O'Connor.

Virgin crash fallout

According to O’Connor, NetApp had been suffering from misconceptions that it was responsible for the October outage of Virgin Blue’s reservations, check-in and operating systems.

“There has been a lot of press… the Virgin Blue thing that came out, fortunately had nothing to do with NetApp, and the customer will testify to that, but unfortunately a few of our competitors have spread far and wide — almost every customer I visit these days brings up: ‘vendor X says that you guys were the fault of this, can you please explain’,” O’Connor claimed.

“I can tell you now, though that if it does go down again, we will be to blame. There is now some more NetApp stuff in Navitaire around the world.”

O’Connor said NetApp had taken legal action against a number of its competitors over the matter, issuing ‘cease and desist’ letters to the storage vendors.

“There is no suing, just public embarrassment,” O’Connor said. “There is a Cease and Desist letter in front of them.”

Government storage sector booming

In reviewing the 2010 year for the company, O’Connor said the past 12 months had witnessed a number of government sector wins for the company, including the Department of Environment and Climate Change, CenITtex in Victoria, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Tax Office, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

“Going into the government sector we have had an amazing run over the last 18 months and more recently in the last three months our federal team and also our state government teams in NSW and Victoria have been going gang busters,” he said.

According to O’Connor the had no specific impact on the current storage spending in the government sector – estimated to be up to 30 per cent of the overall storage market.

“I don’t know that there is a link [to Gershon],” he said. “Certainly for a lot of governments, like the Victorian Government, it is on the agenda. They would be at the forefront of the adoption of shared infrastructure between state government departments.”

NetApp was also presently contesting a number of major IT tenders including Centrelink, HealthSmart in Victoria, and NSW Health, O’Connor said.

O’Connor also claimed that the company had scored a number of wins in the media sector with all major television stations, and a number of publishing companies, now being customers.

Staffing challenges

According to O’Connor NetApp had not been immune to the wider skills shortage occurring in Australia, claiming poaching between itself and rivals EMC, HDS, Sun and IBM was prevalent.

“[EMC] poached one, so we poached one back, so that makes about 14 we have taken from them,” he said. “It’s all fair in love and war… not just [EMC] but others as well. [Poaching] goes on in our space… resources are pretty scarce.”

In light of the staffing challenges, some 10 per cent of the current NetApp Australia employees were imports, O’Connor said.

“There is no doubt about it, there is absolutely a shortage of ICT resources in Australia at the moment and it goes without saying that ourselves and competitors and channel partners, our customers and alliance partners are all pursing the same people,” he said. “It is very, very difficult to get the best people.”

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Tags emcvirgin bluenetappgershonICT skills shortagegovernment storage sector

More about Australian Bureau of StatisticsAustralian Federal PoliceBT AustralasiaCentrelinkCiscoEMC CorporationFederal PoliceHDSIBM AustraliaIBM AustraliaNetAppNetAppNSW HealthSuncorp GroupVirgin Blue

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