A file server that can serve over NFS & CIFS, whilst simultaneously be able to serve block traffic over FC, SAS and 10/40gig ethernet. With snapshots, decent performance, and once setup, can be left for 3 years (at which point its either too small or needs a new maintenance contract.)
Nimble, they can do small, cheap and easy to configure. But they can't do fast(unless you are just doing small VMs), they can only do block storage, and FC is a beta product. No real HA.
Pure, Fast, but limited to 250tbs. No metrosync. Block only.
nutanix needs infrastructure upgrade to work at any decent speed. Limited to VM storage. (I think there is a licensing cost for that from VMware too. )
However that's not to say that netapp are the only show in town. They can be utterly shit for many tasks. More importantly, if you let them, they'll bleed you dry. Most people reading this, will never need a system that does block and file storage. But medium sized boring companies need them.
IBM with GPFS have an interesting product, its just marketed and supported by morons. Its fairly simple to create a global file system, with geographic data affinity, that scale linearly when you throw hardware at it. It seriously is amazing. If it wasn't so held back by IBM, you could have a simple globally shared filesystem across your entire cloud infrastructure, that's fast (unlike EBS/EFS/S3)
Object storage is another matter. Object storage is another way of saying that globally coherent fast posix file access is hard, so here's some thin layers over a keyvalue store, you do the rest.
Some people do it right (S3, cleversafe) A lot of people do it wrong. There are important tradeoffs, Like latency, data affinity, or mutability of data. Like a Netapp, no one system will do everything at the right price.
I've never dealt with such completely incompetent salesmen before. Other vendors I've engaged have had salesmen relentlessly pursue me for the sale, even when it was very likely a small contract to them.
Both NetApp and IBM left me having to do the chasing. I don't mind doing that to some extent, but the amount of chasing I was having to do left a bad taste in my mouth and pretty much ensured I've no real interest in dealing with either vendor again. I wonder if companies really realise the importance of care even on small contracts. People change jobs all the time these days, and just because they are buying something small from you now, doesn't mean they're not going to be interested in something very large in the future. How you treat them will have a large impact on whether you even get a look in on something bigger.
EMC knew the name of my senior admin when they called me back in 2 hours.
Guess who got my money?
Next time contact an VAR like Vandis who will size it, sell it, and help (or just do) set it up.
NetApp is beat regularly for being too slow to new markets. Compellent was beating them in deals every day with Automated Storage Tiering (AST) and NetApp didn't respond (Compellent was acquired by Dell). If SSDs hadn't come along, Compellent would still be eating their lunch.
Then Nimble started beating them in deals every day with cheap SSD. NetApp only offered big monolithic PCI-E flash cards with a huge markup / licensing cost, while Nimble let you leverage "cheap" SSDs in a direct and scalable way. Nimble would give you a SAN with SSDs for $20k, where NetApp couldn't include their PAM flash card in any array under $40-50k. $20k of disk and SSD beats $20k of just disk most places. The new tech (SSDs) took NetApp several years to leverage. Even though NetApp's tooling, software, and capabilities were light years ahead, people could "make do" with Nimble and cheap SSDs. NetApp has only recently added reasonably priced SSDs to the mix.
NetApp regularly billed itself to partners as a "software company" who differentiated itself with software. They still have some of the most robust software in the business for encryption, replication, compliance, and orchestration. Their suite blows Nimble out of the water. But more and more, people are OK with running cheap, dumb, fast SANs and leveraging software on the other side (Windows, OpenStack, VMware) to handle storage intelligence.
As a hardware company, they're too slow and charging huge margins for consumer-available parts won't work forever. As a software company, their rivals in the non-storage world are quickly preparing to make them obsolete with server-side storage intelligence. Tough place to be, outside of enterprises who need your software stack (custom replication / cloning, retention, etc).
EDIT: I think I should probably add that the competent Netapp pre-sales guy moved to DataDomain, then Fusion-IO and now he's in PureStorage..
More digging revealed that they sold an under performing system at a inflated cost to run MS exchange 2010. NetApp do not add any value since Exchange do not need or actually utilise any of the features.
NetApp's WAFL( write anywhere) and insistence on using 4k block for disk io is the biggest design fault. Most systems nowadays uses bigger IO blocks to get more throughput with less IOPS.
Files on the disk also becomes highy files on the disk. Ironically they recommend to keep the defragmentation process turned off because there controller do not have enough comute powere to run the process in production. This is completed dishonest but very cleaver as it helps them sell more disks if customer doesn't dig deeper or don't have competence to ask right questions.
Another laughable design choice. Your size of SSD pool is very limited (12 TB on a FAS6000 series filer).
I never used Exchange on Netapp, but aren't they supposed to have a "SnapManager for.." tool to coordinate the Exchange backups with the storage snapshot process? I was using it for SQL Server.
you can have whatever redundancy you want, and maybe even lagged copies, but if you need to restore something months older, you still need backups..
Exchange does not needs NetApp HA capabilities if you use multiple copies of database.
In our case NetApp sold snap manager for 30 remote copies of already triple redundant (one remote copy) database and then tape backup at month end.
In my view they just fooled the unsuspecting customer and just oversold everything.
That was fine too if it would have worked.
Connecting the dots on that one leaves me quite amazed.
I respect Robin's opinions, but these days I don't think his finger is as firmly on the pulse of the industry as it once was.
"Commodity software defined storage" (IBM selling XIV on generic hardware, Ceph, and so on) seems far more likely.
Ceph and the other distributed things are pretty great if what you need is block devices. RADIOS, by all accounts, is pretty good. CephFS, on the other hand... not so much. It's hard to make a distributed coherent shared filesystem.
If you need a filesystem that can be mounted by multiple clients, NFS is still dang hard to beat.
NFS 4.1 with pNFS looks like it might take away a lot of the advantages a dual-head NetApp server has over a single zfs server.
But NFS itself? NFS has never been a real force in "production" - and that will continue.
Here in corp-land, though? and in some lab uses? where we really need a shared filesystem? NFS is not going anywhere.
Where are you getting 2 cents ?
S3 is ~3 cents, glacier and nearline are 1 cents ... what are you buying that costs 2 cents ? (genuinely curious)
and I am starting to try out Google Cloud Storage, I think that they out preforms AWS
I don't get all this relationship between "cloud object storage" and the dawn of Netapp as stated in the storagemojo article.
For me Netapp is, like said by KaiserPro, a multi-purpose system where I can do FC, iSCSI, NFS, CIFS, with HA, snapshots etc., where I can host my VMs, my Windows files, my block-access disks for Databases etc.. It's not the place were I'd just put files that I'll serve via a S3-like API interface...
Unfortunately it didn't actually work out much cheaper to buy or run.
Keep in mind Oracle's hardware division is a little over $5b, or 14% of their annual revenue. Not likely the reason for their problems. Most of the press has been pretty positive on how they've leveraged hardware compared to their competition (IBM, HP, Dell). 
$5b is less than 2/3 as much as Sun's yearly hardware revenue in FY2009, which was substantially lower than in 2008 due to the financial apocalypse (big finance was busy trying not to go bankrupt instead of buying the best hardware money can buy).
(Unfortunately Sun's 10-K does not break out hardware revenue specifically, but was split up in "Server Products", "Storage Products", "Support Services", "Professional and Educational Services" so it's not obvious to me how the news reports back in the day got their ~$9 billion number for hardware, but at least they're consistent on that)
EMC's biggest problem in storage isn't on the All-Flash side (XTremeIO is working as intended), it's that there's fewer reasons to buy the high end, high margin (VMAX) storage these days, and EMC needs to come up with a big margin patch... which it thinks it might have with DSSD  .
Edit: BTW Auspex had very nice hardware. But it was over-engineered and more expensive than Netapp. And snapshots on Netapp were better than anything Auspex had. So, more expensive hardware, inferior software. Not a good combination.
Who can forget the stories of Microsoft offering their browser for free in order to cut off Netscapes air supply:
So at the end of the day, if you still need lots of disk, I suppose NetApp has a lot to offer.
Netapp are not growing like they should, but its not cleversafe knicking the money.
What cleversafe do that is unique is create a global encrypted, highly available, redundant namespace. If you want a fast safe redundant backup system (and don't mind using API access) then cleversafe is your goto product.
Netapp doesn't do anything similar.
Crap I left my VPN on!!!