NetApp Blog

Let me start by saying I am a big NetApp fan, and I love waving my flag as a member of NetApp United, NetApp’s global influencer program.

As a NetApp Technical Consultant at ALSO Schweiz AG, a NetApp Distributor partner, I have worked with nearly every major product in the portfolio, helping customers and partners use the NetApp Data Fabric to solve their toughest IT challenges. I especially love NetApp’s cloud and flash products, specifically, SolidFire. I’m always eager to learn more about the next big innovations that NetApp has in store. Throughout my career, I’ve made learning about NetApp and its technologies a priority. I’ve been inspired by many NetApp trainers like Nando “The Brainwasher” Gorsatt, who have also helped me on my journey from being a student of NetApp to becoming a trainer and joining NetApp United in 2018. NetApp United gives me a great platform to share my insights with a global audience, with a huge network of other NetApp fans, and with experts that I can work with to grow my career and expand my knowledge. So when the opportunity from NetApp United came up to participate in the Item Development Workshop (IDW) for the new Hybrid Cloud Administrator certification exam (NS0-300) with fellow member Andre Schmitz, I couldn’t pass it up.

The IDW is a multi-day event hosted by NetApp University at the company’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. We were in a big conference room right next to NetApp’s Data Visionary Center (DVC), which is incredible! If you get the chance next time you’re in the area, be sure to check it out! The IDW brings NetApp’s hybrid cloud experts from across the company together with several key customers and partners. Our mission was to design the exam for the new Hybrid Cloud Administrator certification. It was an unforgettable experience. I would like to thank everyone involved in organising this workshop, and I hope that I will get more opportunities in the future to contribute my knowledge to the NetApp community.

I’ve done many “Train the Trainer” courses with NetAppU in the past, but the IDW was on another level. The amount of rigor and attention to detail that NetApp puts into creating an exam is staggering. Over the course of 5 days, we were challenged to come up with 12 questions for the exam, each from a different section of the test. Having taken many NetApp exams in the past, I’ll say that while passing an exam is no easy feat, writing one is even more difficult. Coming up with not only a challenging question, but also the answers that go with it, was way harder than I thought it would be. I pushed myself to the limit to come up with 13 questions. Out of those 13 questions, 6 were directly approved, 6 needed modification, and 1 got refused because it was too easy. Not bad for my first time!

One of the really exciting aspects of the IDW is the question review process. Each question that gets submitted is reviewed by the group. We critique the question while making sure it is clear, concise, and relevant. Because each question is multiple choice, not only does the question have to be good, the answers have to be challenging. The verbiage should readable by a teenager, and easily understandable by non-native English speakers. The test should be written so that an aspiring NetApp Hybrid Cloud Administrator can pass the exam on the first or second attempt. You can find another insider’s view of the IDW in this blog by Andre Schmitz. Upon the completion of the workshop, we were all awarded the title of Subject Matter Expert (SME). I’m very proud to be a member of this prestigious team.

So why bother with putting all this work into making a challenging exam? It’s all about the value. NetApp certifications demonstrate to your employer, your customers, and your peers that you know what you’re doing. By making sure each and every question in that exam is rigorous and thoughtful, NetAppU and its team of SMEs like myself are ensuring that those certifications maintain their proven value.

At Insight 2016 in Berlin, Dave Hitz said, “Don’t fight the cloud. Don’t fear the cloud,” and he was absolutely right. The possibilities with NetApp and the Data Fabric ecosystem are incredible. NetApp really understands how to work with the big hyperscalers to keep your data secure. It doesn’t matter if you manage your data on-premises or in a cloud provider like Azure, AWS, or Google, NetApp gives you the tools to manage your data easily and securely across your environment (for example, creating a mirror between your AFF A300 and NetApp Cloud Volumes at Microsoft Azure). This is why it is important for you to get certified as a Hybrid Cloud Administrator. Cloud is here to stay, and it’s only a matter of time until it becomes a universal commodity. By proving your knowledge as a certified hybrid cloud admin, you will stand out and demonstrate to your customers that you can confidently manage complex environments with integrations into different hyperscalers.

Author: Stefan Assler, ALSO Schweiz AG
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Active IQ

Active IQ does make a big difference and it’s a part of the whole NetApp solution, it includes with an active support contract. Let’s take a closer look below why Customers and Partners can benefit a lot if they’d use Active IQ.

During my Partner enabling workshops I always do an Active IQ Demo where I show the following:

  • Inventory of NetApp systems
  • One-click capacity and contract renewal requests
  • Health summary and trends
  • Upgrade recommendations
  • Risk Advisor and Storage Efficiency Advisor services

I always tell the Partners if they’re going to use Active IQ at the customer site, then the customer will be impressed and more informed. They will also be the trusted data advisor of the customer. To the sales consultant, it would be great if they could show the NetApp systems on the Active IQ mobile app and show the customers the Active IQ dashboard. Recommendation of alternate service-level options to optimize workload performance is also a huge plus.

Most of my Partners are very impressed, when they hear about the intelligence behind Active IQ like:

  • Each day, Active IQ receives telemetry data from more than 300,000 assets around the globe, adding to a multi-petabyte data lake that processes 10 trillion data points each month.
  • With a highly diverse installed base, Active IQ has a rich set of data for machine learning and predictive analytics, leading to deeper more advanced insights.
  • Active IQ turns these intelligent insights into prescriptive guidance that can reduce risk, increase data availability, and simplify management.

Active IQ demos are very powerful tool and the Partner loves it and Active IQ can make the difference to win a project against a competitor.

What’s new:

Active IQ Unified Manager
Active IQ provides context sensitive link and ability to launch to the Unified Manager instance to manage the on-premises ONTAP Systems.

Data Center View
Data Center view has been enhanced with automated interoperability validation providing remediation recommendation, and the ability to view hosts connected to a cluster.

Workload Tagging
Active IQ mobile application has been enhanced to display the workloads with their capacities and efficiencies that are tagged in the desktop version of Active IQ. The enhanced filter can now filter the workloads based on the tag types.

Active IQ OneCollect and Active IQ Config Advisor
Active IQ OneCollect and Active IQ Config Advisor have been enhanced with advanced search capabilities to search for AutoSupport data, and to view the host and storage configuration using Active IQ Cluster Viewer.

Storage Efficiency
Storage efficiency savings dashboard has been enhanced to include information about AFF and non-AFF systems at customer level.

Fabric Pool Advisor
This new advisor provides a summary of the inactive data and helps to tier the inactive data. The advisor also summarizes a list of the aggregates for which Inactive Data Reporting (IDR) is not enabled and provides recommendations to enable IDR.

API Services
Simplified the documentation to make it easier to understand and use the Active IQ APIs.

Config Compare
Config Compare has been updated with drift dashboard and instant comparison of systems and clusters.

Discovery Dashboard Enhancements
Discovery Dashboard has been enhanced to include additional fields like IO Density and Headroom. You can now export data to Microsoft Excel with filters applied, and watchlists with over 5,000 systems being routed to reports.

This upcoming release of Active IQ will include a redesigned and action-oriented interface, customizable dashboards, and improved integrations with Cloud Insights and Unified Manager. All customers with an active SupportEdge contract will be able to take advantage of this exciting new release.

So, stay tuned and make yourself familiar with Active IQ.

Author: Stefan Assler, ALSO Schweiz AG
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Let’s be honest, there may be something special when you’re a week out of the office. It’s either a vacation or something to do with business. The moment NetApp University nominated me to attend NetApp Global Instructor Summit was like unimaginable. It was a week of learning, networking and of course meeting new and old friends from my NetApp community.

It is my privilege working with an International team from USA, APAC and EMEA.

What is GIS?

The annual Global Instructor Summit provides NetApp University (NetAppU), Authorized Learning Partners and NetApp Distributor Enablement Program pre-sales instructors with valuable information and resources. They will hear about the NetApp strategy, learn about current and planned courses, and have an opportunity to network with NetAppU experts and their peers in the industry. The 16th Year Anniversary of GIS which started with just NetApp University internal deliver teams and has since expanded to include our external delivery teams.

We were 88 attendees this year from NetApp University, Authorized Learning Partners and from Distribution like ALSO Schweiz AG.

The specific “Call to Action” of NetApp University for everyone attending were:

  • Innovate
    • Leverage what you learn this week to extend your skills with the latest capabilities.
    • Build your business with the new learning solutions (DevOps, AI, Cloud, Enterprise Apps)
  • Transform
    • Change the conversation.
    • Enhance the journey for your learners. Help them to transform and grow.
  • Evangelize
    • Share the knowledge you gained here with your Colleagues and Partners.
    • Share your success with us!

The goals of the event were:

  • Articulate NetApp and NetApp University’s FY’20 strategy, vision and priorities.
  • Provide a roadmap and insights on new products and solutions in preparation for training delivery
  • Boost internal and external trainer skills and expertise on current and new solutions
  • Develop a cohesive learning delivery eco-system
  • Empower networking and sharing of best practices across audiences
  • Increase trainer certifications

On the first morning, our very own NetApp leaders like Octavian Tanase, Senior VP, ONTAP Software and Systems Group – Henri Richard, WW Field and Customer Operations and Mattt Watts the Director, Technology and Strategy gave us some key news. I would like to emphasize what these motivated leaders shared.

Octavian Tanase spoke about the future of ONTAP and that simplicity is the future of ONTAP. He talked about what will be new with ONTAP 9.7 in November. So please stay tuned, right now it’s under NDA.

Henri Richard talked enthusiastically about Digital Experience. The new generation of buyers will be a different one in 2025 than today. He defined the new focus areas: AI / DevOps / Enterprise Apps (Core of our business, Oracle, SAP) and of course Cloud (being successful in the cloud is essential to NetApp).

As a matter of fact, NetApp HCI and the whole NetApp FLASH portfolio strongly supports the NetApp business.

Matt Watts talked how NetApp has changed from the “NAS guys” to be the Data Authority and then to the current philosophy: it’s your Data Fabric in the Hybrid- and Multicloud.

I love to listen to his stories. His speech was great as always, and covered mainly his two blog posts:

Pets, Cattle, Insects and the Fabric of life and With Data, what’s above it and below it really matters!

Which I can highly recommend, please take your time to read them.

For me it was most important to get the roadmap of NetApp and NetApp HCI and how NetApp is defining the future of their products and solutions. Simplicity is the goal, not only for ONTAP but also for other NetApp solutions. The result is NetApp HCI is simple, easy to scale with an incredible performance and reliability. Running different workloads is no problem on the NetApp HCI like VDI, Databases or Exchange because of Element OS and its Quality of Service. You can host multiple customers on your NetApp HCI, multitenancy is your friend. Make it simple, you don’t need all the features all the time. I liked when I heard “You don’t need a Ferrari to bring Grandma to church”. NetApp HCI is flexible and simple. Now we have Cloud Data Services on NetApp HCI: it is your Cloud, your way. With NetApp HCI you have your own on-premises Cloud, with optional connection to any of the three big Hyperscalers. NetApp HCI with NetApp Kubernetes Service and ONTAP Cloud Volumes Services is the new definition of HCI: Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure, as your Data Fabric.

Here are some statements and key take-aways from some attendees of the GIS 2019:

Brandi Einhorn, NetAppU about certification (NCCG NetApp Certification Goddess):

“Our NetApp Certification program has high standards. I am often asked; can you publish the weighting of each topic within a certification to help us better prepare or can you tell me all of the courses that will help me pass? My response is consistent – certifications are legally defensible validation that you can confidently represent NetApp in the field. To lower our standards would be to dilute the value. Courseware, industry knowledge and guides and presentations that you reference during real-life situations (applying your knowledge) will guarantee success. Just because you are not certified does not mean that you are not successfully doing your job, but PVUE has proven year after year that certified users are more likely to get promotions and salary increases.”

During her presentation Brandi also mentioned, what is essential for preparing for a certification exam is:

10% Industry / Common Knowledge

30% Courseware

60% Experience through: admin guides, presentation, manuals, etc.

6+ months of Training and Experience recommended

As someone who has twice attended an Item Development workshop, I know how much effort NetApp University and the team of Subject Matter Experts put into every certification.

Nando “The Brainwasher” Gorsatt, NetAppU:

“What amazed me most at GIS is to see the level of engagement of our disti-trainer-community! The effort we’ve put in since 3-4 years really starts to show & pay off. It is very rewarding to help our distributors on their journey to success as business enablers!”

Victor Franco, NetAppU:

“It is an exceptional opportunity to build community, and to learn from people all over the world. Finding how other people do stuff, helps me improve, also helps me feel part of a group rowing in the same direction.

I especially liked to hear the new messaging from our top guns and highest managers. It was truly a rare opportunity. Sessions helped me not only on acquiring knowledge, but also taking tips on how other people present and get their ideas through to the audience.

New disruptive technologies are already in the market.

There are companies for example using AI to process insurance claims, understand the attached documentation provided, match against the customer insurance, and generating automatic responses or payments. This translates into responding the customer in minutes rather than in days.

Also, those that have move to containers are able to spin at least 4 times more resources in the same hardware than with Virtual Machines. On top they add elasticity and granularity. If you translate this into cost savings, there is a huge difference.

Those companies not embracing these market disruptive technologies will really have a tough time remaining competitive.

NetApp makes this adoption really easy, allowing the customer select where in his Data Fabric he wants to place resources (on-prem, near cloud or cloud), as well as the consumption model he wants to use (hardware, virtual machines or containers).”

Pete Ybarra, NetApp A-Team Member: what was most important for you at GIS?

“Learning about NetApp direction on DevOps and Cloud. Meeting you finally and taking a picture with you for top instructor award. Roadmap presentations and NetApp direction on NetApp HCI”

Alun Griffiths, my fellow NetApp United Member: what was most important for you at GIS?

„This was my 1st NetApp Global Instructors Summit (GIS) and I have to say, it was a fantastic experience. I was able to meet old and make new friends. I learned a massive amount of knowledge in many different areas, plus I was also able to take some certification exams. As I sit and reflect on the wonderful week in Sunnyvale at the GIS, I can honestly say, that for me, it was well worth the investment of time and money to attend the event, and I sincerely hope I am invited next year.“

My personal highlight of the GIS is that I was awarded as the EMEA Top Distribution Instructor of the Year from NetApp University. Being passionate about everything you do will develop you to be a better you and give you an excitement when doing your job right.

To win this Award is a great honor and privilege, so thank you NetApp University and of course my NetApp Perfect Partners.

What would I suggest, is to visit Cloud Central more often

Know well at least one public cloud provider like Azure, AWS or Google Cloud and at least one NetApp Cloud Service, like NetApp SaaS Backup or Cloud Sync.

For each NetApp solution you will find Web Based Trainings (WBT’s) on

This is my main site to keep myself up to date with the NetApp portfolio.

The strength of NetApp is not one single product. It is a whole portfolio, how it works with each other and how you can connect it with all the big Hyperscales.

Please use it and build YOUR own Data Fabric.

All the best,


Author: Stefan Assler, ALSO Schweiz AG
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Stefan Assler
Technical Consultant, ALSO Schweiz AG
NetApp United Mitglied
NetApp Subject Matter Expert
NetApp EMEA Distribution Instructor of the Year 2019
FC Bayern München Fan

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