but they are also less materialistic than us
You clearly don't know enough Indians. They are about as materialistic as it gets.
There is no magic that NetApp adds that would make it any faster or slower than a comparable system using ZFS.
Not true at all. Netapp uses commodity drives running their own weird (magic) firmware. The netapp appliance is aware of where the drives are rotationally at any given point and are able to stage/queue their writes/reads in this way for optimum performance. That is why no Netapp killer has come up in the more than a decade Netapp has been in this game. Don't work for Netapp, don't even own one right now, but they are *wonderful* if you can afford it.
When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder. -- James H. Boren