NetApp mounts attack video assaults on Pure and Dell

NetApp has lowered its marketing game – or raised it, depending on your point of view – by running video ads attacking Dell and Pure Storage.

The Not Top 5 marketing initiative claims to identify “The biggest flops in hybrid cloud … ranking the worst moves other vendors make in competition”.

Update. SPC and SPEC benchmark submissions covered. 29 Oct 2021.

Episodes one and two focus on Pure and Dell, with new episodes promised soon. Each episode has a video featuring Logan Carrington, a senior global product marketing manager at NetApp, and a text playbook analysis. We had a look at these and found them short, snappy and … disappointing.

NetApp’s Logan Carrington.

Anti-Pure attack video

NetApp’s supporting Playbook material for its Not Top 5 video contains five items. The first criticises Pure for having separate storage silos for file and block, unlike NetApp: 

But if you want to throw stones like this don’t do it from a glass house. NetApp has multiple silos too: SolidFire systems, E-Series systems, StorageGRID system, ONTAP systems – come on NetApp, some might think this is almost embarrassing.

Its number 5 item says “Pure innovates first … not.” NetApp asserts: “They like to think they do – like in their recent announcement about a joint offering with Equinix.” But if you look at the Pure-Equinix press release it makes no claim about Pure innovating first with this offering. 

We have asked NetApp for the justification it uses to make these claims against Pure Storage.

Anti-Dell attack video

NetApp’s five claims against Dell include one saying Dell doesn’t prove its performance claims:

NetApp says it, unlike Dell, regularly submits new hardware systems to the SPC for benchmark validation. We checked the SPC website and found 16 NetApp benchmark results, with just one since 2018;

  • 2008 – 3
  • 2009 – 0
  • 2010 – 0
  • 2011 – 0
  • 2012 – 1
  • 2013 – 0
  • 2014 – 1
  • 2015 – 3
  • 2016 – 2
  • 2017 – 3
  • 2018 – 2
  • 2019 – 0
  • 2020 – 1
  • 2021 – 0

The only regular submission period was 2014 to 2018 and since then NetApp has made just one submission. Some might think this pattern isn’t enough to justify NetApp saying it regularly submits new hardware systems to SPC for benchmark validation.

We also checked the Storage Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) website for storage benchmarks and found two types:

There are no published NetApp results for the SPECstorage Solution 2020 benchmark and four for one aspect of the SPEC SFS 2014 benchmark:

  • SPEC SFS2014_database – no NetApp result
  • SPEC SFS2014_eda – no NetApp result
  • SPEC SFS2014_swbuild – 4 NetApp results;
    • August 2017 – FAS8200 with FlexGroup
    • November 2018 – 4-node FAS A8000 with FlexGroup
    • November 2018 – 8-node AFF A800 with FlexGroup
    • November 2018 – 12-node AFF A800 with FlexGroup
  • SPEC SFS2014_vda – no NetApp result
  • SPEC SFS2014_vdi – no NetApp result

Again there is no regular pattern of benchmark submissions by NetApp.

Ww have asked NetApp how it justifies the regular benchmark submission claim.


Direct attacks on competitors by suppliers can give the impression that the attacks validate the competition and also indicate how effective that competition is. However, attack ads could serve to strengthen customer attachment to a supplier’s products – much the way attack political ads can strengthen partisan support for the attacking party but rarely persuade opponents to change their minds.