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Peak-y NAS?

So it seems that IBM have finally decided to stop reselling NetApp filers and focus on their own products; I’m also waiting for the inevitable announcement that they will stop selling the rebadged Engenio products as well as there is fairly large cross-over there.

In fact there is more cross-over between IBMs own Storwize range and the Engenio range than there is between IBM’s NAS and NetApp’s NAS. So I guess we’ll probably see V5000u and V3700U announcements in the future. And if IBM really want to be a little bit nasty, they’ll push the external virtualisation capabilities of the Storwize Unified Devices and their much larger current support matrix for external devices.

But have we reached ‘Peak NAS’? I’m beginning to feel that we might have; certainly in the traditional filer-space. Sure there is growth but people simply don’t want to store their oceans of data on expensive filer devices and pretty much all of the filer devices are expensive; they are certainly more expensive than some of the commodity plays but they also are fairly close to the cost of AFAs, especially when you start looking at the inevitable software options that you have to license to make them work well.

NetApp really grew on the back of VMware; it was always amusing that when the VMware sales-team used to turn-up, it would often be with a NetApp salesman in tow and never an EMC salesman; embarrassed by the relationship it seemed. It is only in the last couple of years that there has appeared to be a closer relationship between VMware and EMC..of course VSAN means that they don’t really want to turn up with any storage partner these days.

NetApp’s challenge is going to be how to make themselves relevant again and re-invent themselves; from what I know about FlashRay, this is probably the most promising AFA technology from a mainstream vendor but they need to ship.

And they need to work out how to survive in market that is going to be driven by price…no-one is going to pay $1000s per terabyte to store home-directories and unstructured data; compressed or deduped.

I guess the same challenge that every vendor is currently struggling with…it just feels that NetApp are struggling more than most.


  1. Etherealmind says:

    At least NetApp isn’t buying random companies in the hope of something good, and then using accounting tricks to boost the bottom line for a few more quarters while they extract maximum revenue from slower moving customers.

    There is more more than one way to win while losing. Call it a “disruption” if you like.

    1. storagebod says:

      Unfortunately I don’t see any attempt by NetApp to disrupt their market; like many, they are addicted to their currently high margins and slow moving customers.

  2. NetApp’s business is in decline but they won’t accept it. There doesn’t appear to be a culture within the company to sell anything other than FAS and that’s a real problem if the sales teams are neither incentivised or care about selling other product offerings.

    So what are NTAP to do? If they start selling the existing product line cheaper, that hits the bottom line and would make customers feel ripped off for their previous products. That seems unlikely.

    Perhaps they could compete across the market – but wait, flash has been out for 4/5 years and they don’t have a “real” flash product.

    How about innovation and a new product paradigm? Well acquisition has been one of their least successful strategies….

    How about cloud? OK they are trying that by, erm, simply deploying Data ONTAP in the cloud too…. Not the best strategy.

    NTAP won’t disappear overnight; however it will start a slow decline as bits of its business are chipped away. More customers will migrate away to cheaper, easier platforms at product renewal. Customers will move apps to the cloud as they are re-written.

    NetApp’s growth could turn into a classic bell-curve future.

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