By William Fellows File and caching server company and Wall Street darling Network Appliance Inc expects to add the first sub-$20,000 file and caching servers to its product line this financial year to take advantage of the growing opportunity for network-attached storage at the low end of the market. The market for storage and dedicated […]
By William Fellows
File and caching server company and Wall Street darling Network Appliance Inc expects to add the first sub-$20,000 file and caching servers to its product line this financial year to take advantage of the growing opportunity for network-attached storage at the low end of the market. The market for storage and dedicated application and file serving devices that live on a network, rather than behind or inside a server, is expected to climb from $540m in 1998 to $5.1bn by 2003, according to International Data Corp. The introduction of gigabit Ethernet networks should improve the attraction of NAS storage significantly, the company believes.
The likes of Inktomi, Encanto, Cobalt, Whistle (recently acquired by IBM), Mirapoint and CacheFlow are each building businesses upon the requirement for servers which provide network-based caching and other file services at the low- and middle-range of the market. NetApp says it has products waiting in the wings which specifically address the Microsoft Exchange email market.
At the high end, it is the lucrative commercial application space which NetApp covets. The addition of Snap Restore, Snap Mirror, and clustered failover have been designed to help it serve more traditional IT functions. It now talks about tier-one storage player EMC Corp being its key competition. NetApp has been claiming to Wall Street that it faces EMC on 10% of its filer deals and wins half of them. It’s going to offer 3Tb filer systems in the near future with 6Tb system due in the first quarter of next year. New products due shortly will increase the filer capacity to 3 Tb, with 6 Tb coming in early calendar 2000.
It claims a new pricing model will mean it can offer 18Gb Fibre Channel storage for $1,850 versus Sun Microsystems Inc’s $3,150. The opportunity is that NAS supposedly offers faster throughput and easier management for workgroups than server or SAN storage. It doesn’t need to compete with applications for CPU time. NetApp believes 10% of its systems are now used purely for database hosting. It says the only thing that is holding it back in taking on the commercial market more directly is the size of its sales force.
In building out its product line at the top and bottom, NetApp hopes it will be able to fend off competition from the likes of Compaq, Micron Electronics’ NetFrame division, EMC and Quantum, which are all squaring up with solutions for the NAS market.
Although IDC says NetApp has a 40% share of the NAS market – versus its nearest competitor, Auspex Systems Inc with 21% – the research firm believes it will the entry of these other companies which will drive the market to the highs it predicts. Meanwhile, NetApp says it rarely meets Auspex in deals. In any case, it says it’s about to embark on a campaign to win Auspex’s key oil and gas industry customers away from it.
NetApp says 47% of its systems are now being sold for multi- protocol file serving; CIFS for NT and NFS for Unix. 45% are NFS- only sales. Some 10% or so are CIFS-only. NT sales will account for 25% of sales by the end of its fiscal year next April, in which analysts are predicting it will do around $450m.