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With EMC in its sights, Network Appliance plans to follow last month’s launch of its enterprise-class FAS6000 SAN arrays with the rollout of its first-ever SMB storage appliances in June.
For its initial dive into the SMB storage space, which NetApp defines as companies with 30-plus users, the company has set up a separate StoreVault division, headed by General Manager Sajai Krishnan, who is charged with bringing the company’s new SMB appliances to market exclusively through the channel. That group has tapped Tech Data, Clearwater, Fla., as its sole broadline distributor for the launch.
While NetApp won’t reveal speeds and feeds of the new line, dubbed StoreVault by NetApp, Krishnan confirmed that it will be priced starting at $5,000 and that the device can operate simultaneously as a NAS file server and an iSCSI SAN. Optional Fibre Channel connectivity is expected 90 days after the initial launch.
NetApp’s competitiveness against archrival EMC has traditionally depended on its ability to profess a lower cost of ownership and operation compared with EMC products, as well as the fact that it uses a single operating system and software stack for its entire product line, as opposed to EMC’s separate software for each line, NetApp CEO Dan Warmenhoven said in an interview with CRN.
NetApp’s latest launches will expand that strategy, with the StoreVault line positioned against EMC’s Clariion AX150 and the EMC Insignia lines at the low end and the FAS6000 line going head-to-head with EMC’s Symmetrix line in the enterprise-class SAN space.
“We believe it’s becoming increasingly a two-horse race between us and EMC,” Warmenhoven said. “EMC has been the market leader, and we are definitely the challenger. The shortcoming of our playing the challenger role has been the scalability of our systems.”
The StoreVault line will have only one sales channel: VARs. “This is the only go-to-market vehicle for us,” Krishnan said. “No CDW. No e-tailers.”
That’s a message that resonates with Gavin Rosenberg, marketing director at Sunstar, a solution provider in Inglewood, Calif. “If someone sells through CDW, I don’t want to do it,” he said.
NetApp’s move to start a separate division for the new product is important, Rosenberg added. “I don’t have to deal with the same folks that sell the company’s high-end solutions,” he said. “It’s not part of the rest of the company. As a result, they’re going to be hungry to make it work.”
Van Kotter, partner at NetPath Systems, a Salt Lake City-based solution provider that earlier signed up with the EMC Insignia small-business program, said he is more comfortable with NetApp when dealing with smaller customers.
“It’s because we work with NetApp on its enterprise product and have a very good local NetApp direct sales rep,” Kotter said. “Sometimes having the direct rep on your side can help with better pricing and in keeping out other NetApp VARs,” he added.
John Zammett, president of solution provider HorizonTek, Huntington, N.Y., said he likes the fact that the new StoreVault appliance does not overlap NetApp’s existing product lines. “We feel this product gives us a greater opportunity to go after the SMB world without affecting our current NetApp market,” Zammett said.
NetApp, which currently has between 250 and 300 solution providers, looks to recruit two to three times that many new partners to sell the StoreVault line in the next two years, said Leonard Iventosch, vice president of channels at the company.
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