A successful business needs to have a clear plan, so that its customers and employees understand the direction the company is going for the long term. Our business is based in the belief that if we provide outstanding service and support to our customers we will earn their trust and our business will grow. Our Network Appliance business is continuing to grow because our customers want a reliable partner who can maintain their equipment for the long term, while NetApp is in the business of forcing their customers to upgrade their products by making new product sales. Our business relies on our ability to help our customers understand our long term vision of a strategic service and support model for their high availability storage equipment.

When NetApp came out with their separate Storevault division a couple of years ago, I thought that it was going to be doomed to failure. How could NetApp concentrate its efforts on two different markets? It just did not make any sense. Respected bloggers like Ben Rockwood thought it was an odd choice also…

StoreVault is to NetApp as LinkSys is to Cisco. NetApp wants this business to be entirely seperate and entirely self-sustaining. Thats why they put up so many brick walls. The diffrence of course is that LinkSys product sells at Fry’s for $100… StoreVault isn’t expensive but you don’t throw $10,000 at a storage solution your unsure about especially when it has a non-refundable policy.

If anyone from StoreVault is reading this… help me help you! Competing against yourselves is fruitless and avoidable.

But NetApp thought they could do it.
June 26, 2006
StoreVault: Storage for Small Businesses
NetApp has created a new division, called StoreVault, to provide storage systems for small and medium businesses (SMBs). The S500 is our first StoreVault system. It’s based on the same Data ONTAP software that we use in our enterprise systems, but with a management interface optimized for SMBs, including simple wizards for the most common tasks. (Pricing starts around $5,000. Maximum capacity 6 TB. Supports iSCSI, Fibre Channel SAN, CIFS and NFS, as well as snapshots and double protecting RAID.)

Enterprise Disease
One challenge of building an SMB product in a company like NetApp is that we focus so much on the requirements of giant enterprise customers, that it would be easy for us to get confused about the needs of small and mid-sized companies. Mid-sized businesses aren’t just stripped down versions of big enterprises. They have their own separate requirements, and simply creating a stripped down version of the standard enterprise solution isn’t good enough. Our CTO calls it “enterprise disease” when people who have spent too much time focusing on giant customers try to design products for smaller ones. We created a separate StoreVault division in part to protect our SMB team against enterprise disease.

Perhaps the market has changed and now it looks like NetApp to allow its SMB resellers to sell its high end Filers against IBM and NetApp sales folks?

February 14, 2008
NetApp Moves StoreVault Back Into Mothership
NetApp will widen the audience for the successful SMB system
By Mary Jander, February 14, 2008, 1:30 PM
Network Appliance is eliminating the boundaries that kept its StoreVault division a distinct entity inside the company.

“Today, StoreVault is focused exclusively on sales to small and medium businesses. We see a bigger opportunity to expand the target for the StoreVault platforms into remote and branch offices as an extension of our core FAS product line,” said Jay Kidd, chief marketing officer at NetApp. “Coupled with our FAS 2000 product, this now gives our NetApp and our channel partners a broader entry product line to sell.”

So this seems to suggest that CDW will now also sell filers.

StoreVault, a Network Appliance Inc. division, has inked a deal with CDW Corporation to sell its StoreVault S500 storage product to customers that buy through Web site and catalog advertising, but StoreVault resellers are concerned that the new deal may affect their selling strategy.

Under the terms of the agreement, CDW will add a new selling component to the StoreVault S500, which will entail advertising the product online as well as through its catalog. Customers can buy directly from CDW, which will not publish the street price of the product in ads to protect StoreVault’s 400 other resellers’ ability to charge in relation to their integration work. Instead pricing is available directly from CDW.

A clear plan requires teamwork and vision, how is this muddled sales and marketing plan for storevault easily explained to NetApp’s resellers, customers or employees? NetApp has at least one employee who sees the value of clarity in corporate vision. Rusty Walther writes.

(1) Do you understand the vision and strategy of both our company and department, and do you agree with them?

Employees that fundamentally disagree with, or are confused by the strategic direction of a company or team are very easy to recruit away, since the “roots” they need to stay grounded simply don’t exist.

Can he explain strategic direction as exemplified by the storevault roadmap to the rest of us?

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