HDS Adds NAS Capability To Arrays With Network Appliance OEM Deal

The Network Appliance Filers, which would include no internal storage, will be offered as an option to HDS storage arrays starting next quarter, said Scott Genereux, vice president of global marketing and business development for HDS.

The Filers, expected to be co-branded with both vendors' names, will be sold as an option to form an integrated SAN/NAS solution for HDS's Lightning 9900 and 9900V enterprise arrays, as well as for the company's new Thunder 9500V modular arrays, said Genereux. They will also be available as an option to Hitachi's installed base.

While HDS has yet to determine which specific Filers will be available to customers, Genereux said they would be available through the company's direct sales force and through HDS solution providers. The products will not be available through Hewlett-Packard, which currently sells HDS's Lightning arrays under an OEM deal, or to Sun Microsystems, which resells the Lightnings via its own direct and indirect channels, Genereux said.

The Network Appliance relationship gives HDS a new NAS gateway to replace the one previously OEM'd from Chantilly, Va.-based Network Storage Solutions, a relationship dating back to May of last year. Genereux said that relationship ended a couple of quarters ago. "NSS was a startup, and wasn't industrial strength enough," he said.

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Dan Warmenhoven, CEO of Network Appliance, said the HDS deal is only the latest for his company, but is the one which is expected to be the most significant. The company has had a relationship with Fujitsu for about five years under which that company bought Filers with internal storage. Dell Computer added its own hard drives to Filers which it sold for about a year, but that relationship fizzled out due to lack of momentum, Warmenhoven said.

The two vendors will cooperate in terms of R and D and tech support, said Warmenhoven. HDS's HiCommand storage management software will be extended to include Network Appliance APIs. Level-one and level-two tech support will be handled by HDS, while Network Appliance will handle level-three tech support. "We're right around the corner from each other," he said.

John Murphy, executive vice president of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based HDS solution provider, called the move a good one for HDS. "This lets them play in the NAS space where they couldn't before," Murphy said. "It lets them become a total solution company, and not just a SAN vendor."

Murphy said there is a need for products combining SAN and NAS. However, he said, the deal with HDS makes Network Appliance's SAN strategy less clear. "One question would be what percentage of Network Appliance's installed customer base is interested in SANs," he said. "Network Appliance is now in the SAN space, so this move muddies the picture."

This is not Network Appliance's first move into the SAN space. The company, which traditionally specialized in enterprise NAS products, in August unveiled new versions of its Filers which treat the storage attached behind the devices as a SAN.