NetApp appoints chief product officer who doesn’t look after all products

NetApp has appointed its first chief product officer, Harvinder (Harv) Bhela, who will look after most — but not all — of NetApp’s products.

Harvinder Bhela.

Bhela starts in January 2022, and will report to CEO George Kurian. His job will be to “accelerate the ongoing transformation of the company into a multi-cloud, storage, and data services leader.” He joins after nearly 25 years at Microsoft, where he held multiple executive leadership positions — most recently “as corporate VP of the Microsoft 365 Security, Compliance and Management business, which he grew to more than $10 billion in annual revenue, making Microsoft the largest security company in the world.” 

NetApp’s announcement is careful to point out that “Anthony Lye, EVP and GM of NetApp’s Cloud Management and Platform Services Business Unit, will continue to lead the company’s rapid growth and innovation in emerging technologies, furthering its leadership position in Cloud Operations (CloudOps), also reporting to George Kurian.”


Anthony Lye.

A Kurian statement reads: “Under Anthony’s leadership we have successfully incubated a cloud storage and data services business and an emerging cloud operations business. Looking ahead, we have the opportunity to accelerate the expansion of our cloud storage and data services business, while continuing a focused approach to scaling our CloudOps business.”

Lye will run the CloudOps business while Bhela will be responsible for the cloud storage, data services and hybrid cloud businesses. This, NetApp believes, “will further accelerate the pivot to cloud of its storage business while maintaining leadership in flash and object storage,” while Lye will scale the CloudOps business.

We asked NetApp if Anthony Lye is responsible for the Spot series of products (such as Ocean) while Bhela will look after ONTAP, StorageGRID, the AFF, FAS, E-Series and SolidFire arrays, but not the Spot products. The reply was: “Yes, this is accurate.”

So the Spot portfolio is not included in Bhela’s CPO responsibilities. 

The appointment of Bhela follows the retirement of Brad Anderson, the General Manager of NetApp’s Hybrid Cloud Business at the end of FY22, which was announced in June. Bhela’s LinkedIn profile says he is an incoming NetApp EVP and CPO, giving him the same EVP rank as Lye.

Perhaps it would have been less confusing to give Bhela the GM Hybrid Cloud Business title rather than the slightly inaccurate chief product officer role. Perhaps also Lye did not want his reporting line direct to Kurian broken by his having to report to Bhela?

Bhela, by the way, is masterly at describing himself. Here’s part of his LinkedIn profile: “I have led multiple products that went on to become #1 in their category, became 10b$+ businesses, are used by 100s of millions of people around the world, have become de-facto industry standards and have won several industry awards. I help build a differentiated strategy that gets better with time given industry trends. I help teams move at lightning speed and yet have the patience to execute relentlessly across many years. It takes bold strategy, amazing people, disciplined execution, and patience to build truly great things for customers and thereby disrupt competition. Embrace disruption like you have nothing to lose – don’t become a victim of it!”

Lye apparently didn’t feel he had anything to lose.

Bhela carries on in this vein: “But the real source of all differentiation is great people and culture! A great team is like a legendary music band. We are obsessed about making great music to delight our audience. We strive life-long to be world-class at the instrument we play. We are stronger because different people in the team are excellent at different instruments and have diverse performance styles. We trust, respect, listen and build upon each other. We generate positive energy that fuels ourselves and others and we have fun together. Then and only then can we make great music together. But legendary bands don’t just make music, they create ‘feelings’ and that high bar, lofty goal, think big is what we shoot for.”

Feel the force!