NetApp Founder: How Big Data Is Keeping Storage Interesting

Dave Hitz, NetApp, at Structure Big Data 2011Dave Hitz — data storage pioneer, co-founder of NetApp, and recipient of the 2007 IEEE Reynold B. Johnson Information Storage Systems Award — doesn’t like the term big data. But, if he must use the moniker, he acknowledges that big data and analytics are what are keeping the storage industry interesting and driving business right now.

He’s been at the company he co-founded for two decades and says big data is the latest way that NetApps is constantly changing, growing and generating new business. And keeping him interested — Hitz says if he’d been asked two decades ago about how long he would be with the company, he would not have predicted so long.

One of the hot areas in big data and storage is figuring out better ways to serve companies that have varying needs for how long they want to keep their data and how important that data is. Picture a company that just needs the last five minutes’ worth of data to run its web services, compared with a firm that needs to use deep and old data to shape its business.

When the storage provided is the same across the board, even when companies have different needs, it gets really hard to manage, said Hitz. Shared storage potentially makes sense when there is an imbalance of data — like when some data is really valuable and some isn’t —  or there is a mix of needs for storage jobs, said Hitz.

After two decades at the company, Hitz has a seasoned pioneer’s take on the effects of big data on storage. “As industries evolve, all the old tools you have don’t work. That’s why there are so many cool startups out there.”

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