Network Appliance Acquires Spinnaker


Network Appliance on Tuesday said it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Spinnaker Networks, a Pittsburgh-based developer of NAS systems.

Suresh Vasudevan, NetApp's senior director of software, said the company is acquiring Spinnaker for its engineering expertise in scalable storage. Spinnaker employs 83 people, most of whom are engineers.

Spinnaker brings a couple of key technologies that NetApp can use to help it build on its "Storage Grid" architecture, which unifies SANs and NAS, said Vasudevan.

One technology allows thousands of low-cost storage servers to be clustered into a single storage grid, much the way server grids are built using low-cost servers and Linux.

NetApp already has software to cluster two of its Filer NAS subsystems, said Vasudevan, and was exploring ways to improve that scalability when it decided to acquire Spinnaker. "We think that instead of larger systems, it is better to scale by adding multiple systems into one large cluster," he said.

Spinnaker also brings NetApp the ability to build global name spaces that stretch across thousands of nodes, as well as distributed data management capabilities that allow all data in a company's local and remote sites to be looked at via a single view, said Vasudevan.

Vasudevan said the first step in merging the companies' technologies will be to get Spinnaker's software to work on NetApp's hardware, a task the two companies can do easily, he said. The second step will be to develop a common code base. He declined to elaborate on future efforts to meld the technologies.

Spinnaker's storage grid technology makes it an appropriate offering for the higher end of NetApp's solution provider base. Vasudevan said it will especially suit partners with expertise in such verticals as energy, health care, financial services, entertainment and high technology.

NetApp will pay $300 million in stock for Spinnaker and expects the transaction to close in January. Spinnaker has raised more than $31 million in venture capital.