Guiding the public sector

Adrian Cooper, field CTO for the UK public sector at NetApp, explains how the company supports its partners to deliver meaningful change for public sector customers.

NetApp provides systems, software and cloud services for organisations across the globe. Adrian Cooper, the company’s field CTO for the UK public sector, spoke to Comms Business about how NetApp is helping the public sector use data management solutions for projects involving storage modernisation, next-generation data centre, and hybrid cloud.

Cooper explained that the general trend of digital transformation in the public sector has played to NetApp’s strengths. Ideas around improving public sector agility and efficiency of government has placed “an ever-greater importance and focus on data”.

He added, “the other big factor is the increasing adoption of public cloud in public sector. There are certainly nuances to that, and there are some aspects of public sector that are perhaps more advanced in their adoption or more forward looking in their approach than others.”

Helping these organisations explore their options requires deep understanding of what Copper described as “sub-verticals inside of the public sector”. He added, “The drivers, needs and wants of a police force are quite different from those of the NHS, or local authorities, or central government.”

To ensure NetApp and its partners have the knowledge and understanding they need to deliver for public sector customers, the company has aligned its internal resources into these vertical markets. This move away from a regional setup has proved successful as NetApp and its partners can now “talk about what matters”.

Unlocking potential

NetApp recently published a report, ‘Data’s role in propelling the UK public sector forward’, that examined the attitudes of 200 public sector leaders on the use of data within their organisation, as well as giving insight into future investment. Key findings indicated that, whilst public sector organisations are embracing the cloud, many need support to unlock the full potential of the cloud.

The report found that 9 in 10 public sector leaders plan to maintain or grow their cloud expenditure in the next year. In addition, almost 80 per cent of public sector organisations store data in the cloud, but under a third consciously adopt a cloud-first approach.

NetApp’s data management solutions can be used in various ways, but Cooper explained that public sector organisations need support in two key areas. He said, “Our focus is twofold. One is helping organisations understand how they can use the cloud to secure their data, back their data up, and archive it. Nowadays the notion of ‘store everything forever’ is starting to be recognised as unsustainable.

“It is unsustainable based on cost, risk, governance, and the environmental impact is starting to be understood a bit more. So we’re helping customers with mechanisms whereby they can identify the data that can be archived to the cloud, help them understand where they have duplicate data, and to manage governance and GDPR.

“Then secondly we help organisations optimise their cloud environments, reduce costs, and make it more efficient. This needs to be done in a way that empowers those organisations to set rules around their cloud usage, with a system that can automatically determine the best way of provisioning infrastructure.

“This is quite impactful because we’re humans so, if given a choice we’ll opt for the biggest one, the fastest one, the one with the most memory, the most storage capacity… but that isn’t necessarily going to be the best option. So, we look at the usage of those resources and then we’ll say: this option is better for you in this situation. And we’re starting to automate that.”
Great partnerships

The company has delivered successful public sector projects with its channel partners, and Cooper explained that NetApp and its partners are stronger together. He said, “We have a very strong partner philosophy inside of NetApp and we have good relationships with partners in the public sector. [Our vertical approach means] we can take a stronger proposition to market.

“We are starting to partner with a slightly broader ecosystem of organisations. Our partner programme and our alliance resources have evolved to provide partnering opportunities to a more diversified set of partners.”

Cooper added that cloud services require new strategies in terms of both customer success and the commercial model. NetApp’s experience in this area means it can share its learnings with partners. He explained, “We’ve learned some things along the way in terms of customer relationships, and financially how to package deals differently. We’re able to help our partners because they’re undertaking a similar transition too.”