NetApp's Past and Future - Page 4

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What advancements in data storage do you anticipate in next three years?

This all moves at glacial speed. The communications transition I mentioned earlier? Well, local networks came out about 1985; by 2000, everybody's running total-mesh interconnected LANs over IP. Fifteen years.

The movement from direct-attached storage to what I think is the end of the evolutionary period in this case is at least 30 years-twice as long. Two reasons: Number one, this is peoples data. If you have a service-center interruption in the network, you have a pain, an outage, but its easy to recover. If you screw up your data, it could be really injurious. So people move more cautiously.

Step two: In the networking world, there was this great drive to move everything to the Internet. It took everybody in the same direction-vendors, customers, everybody was headed towards an IP-based infrastructure, and we dont have the same compelling kind of forcing function in the storage world.

One final topic: I love the blog wars between [NetApp co-founder] Dave Hitz and [Sun Microsystems CEO] Jonathan Schwartz when they talk about the IP lawsuits your two companies have filed against each other [regarding the origin of the cutting-edge Zettabyte File System].

The problem with Jonathans [blogs] is theyre just full of lies, you know? He says they never presented us with a demand: Dave published the demand note. Jonathan never retracted it or said anything, he just kind of persisted.

Both sides appear to have very strong cases [regarding the origins of the ZFS, and whether it should be in the open-source community].

Its very compelling. What gives them [Sun] the right to steal our intellectual property and publish it to the world? I think Jonathan was out of touch; I dont think he knew what he organization was doing. Thats my suspicion. This was largely done by a bunch of guys on the StorageTek legal team that he inherited. And they persisted in their activities that started prior to them being acquired by Sun.

My guess is that they were still marching to their set of objectives-they present us with a demand, Jonathan doesnt know it. And then, you know, we presented them with a set of demands around our intellectual property, and they never surfaced them. Then they stopped returning calls; its like all their phones broke. And then, the question is, what do you do? You only have a couple of choices, but given Suns history, we decided wed fire the first shot.

Why did you file the lawsuit in Texas?

Expertise. The federal court system has, in fact, developed areas of expertise. And guess what? The judges that hear the most cases and have the teams that understand these things the best are in Texas. How it got going, I dont know, but talk to any attorney around here and theyll tell you. There are two places like this in the U.S.-Texas and, I think, in Minneapolis.

What you really want is a judge who really understands all the intellectual property law, and who has immersed himself in all these issues over the years and can separate the facts from the hyperbole, and the wheat from the chaff, and be a very reasoned adjudicator of the issues.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...