What NetApp Needs

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-07-09 Print this article Print

"Although they have fantastic, easy-to-use product families, they lack three things. No. 1 is high-availability attributes," Narayanan said. "What the user trades off in ease of use, they lose in terms of availability. When a NetApp filer crashes, for example, it can take a day to rebuild it and bring it back up. A big major carrier is not going to risk the downtime."

Narayanan also said NetApp needs "more feet on the ground [in sales, marketing and channels]. The emerging markets are outside of the U.S., particularly in Europe and Asia. Even though NetApp's products would be perfect in those markets, NetApp doesn't have the resources to compete effectively."

Finally, Narayanan said, in view of the "huge consolidation wave now going on in the IT storage sector, NetApp runs the risk of missing the boat on those opportunities. There are a lot of companies with point solutions that could benefit NetApp."

Brian Babineau of Enterprise Strategy Group agreed that Quantum would be a good pickup for NetApp.

"Quantum has a few assets that can get NetApp going again-a huge tape installed base that could be migrated to disk, their own data deduplication software and system, and a very robust file system that could be used in some parts of the market where NetApp does not play today," Babineau said. "The tape business is definitely not growing, but migration is a good opportunity. If data grows, people need more disk (or tape) to back it up."

Babineau said, however, he doesn't think NetApp will make a move just for the sake of making a response to EMC's snagging of Data Domain.

"They will figure out areas in the market where they can attack-data protection is the most obvious-and see what companies can accelerate that attack," Babineau said. "NetApp still has a fairly healthy business, but it doesn't have the growth rates it once had. So I believe the company will look at businesses-not technologies-which can jump-start the growth."

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, had an interesting take on the EMC-Data Domain deal and what it revealed about NetApp.

"Coming from a psychological perspective, what was interesting about this deal was that we basically saw in the bidding process what it took to make NetApp blink," King told eWEEK. "I wasn't surprised that EMC won this [bidding contest]; they have better cash resources. But if NetApp moves ahead to do other acquisitions and other investments, we have a sense now-unless things change very radically-of what they can afford. That automatically puts a company at a disadvantage in a competitive bidding situation.

"It's an interesting strategic point, but that's not the type of information that you want out there in the market."

NetApp Chief Marketing Officer Jay Kidd was cool in his assessment of the loss of the Data Domain acquisition in a conversation with eWEEK.

"Of course, we're flattered that EMC would spend $2.2 billion or $2.3 billion to keep Data Domain's technology out of the hands of NetApp," Kidd said. "However, Data Domain was strictly additional and incremental to our product line. We have plenty of growth opportunities within our own markets, and we'll continue to pursue them.

"Data Domain was definitely a 'want,' not a 'need.'"

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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