NAS specialist Network Appliance is expected to debut a storage solution on the cutting edge of SAN technology, industry sources said.
The new storage appliance will appear on the front end to act as an NAS server but will actually serve data like a high-performance SAN, said industry insiders.
The move would make Network Appliance, based here, one of a handful of companies pushing the convergence of NAS file-level data-storage technology and SAN block-level technology. Other vendors backing the technology include EMC, Hopkinton, Mass., and Hitachi Data Systems, Santa Clara, Calif.
One solution provider said the new appliance is very significant: "It will raise the sales of Bufferin up in Hopkinton."
Solution providers that work with Network Appliance said the market needs these converged devices.
"Both complement each other," one solution provider said. "It's what we solution providers have been saying for years. But vendors haven't been saying it."
Arun Taneja, senior analyst at consulting firm Enterprise Storage Group, said Network Appliance has turned its NAS line into a billion-dollar business and will be able to easily transition to the new technology.
"[The company realizes that the biggest competition they face is EMC, with both file experience from its Celerra line and block experience from Symmetrix," Taneja said. "So the question is not 'if' they do it, but 'when.' "
Another solution provider said the product is expected to offer higher performance than offerings from Hitachi or EMC because it takes advantage of an extremely speedy technology called Write Anywhere File Layout.
"[The appliance is a really cool product," the solution provider said.
Network Appliance is expected to unveil the product at the end of the month. Company executives declined to discuss specific plans in advance.