Snap To Officially Debut As NAS Vendor With Focus On Channel

Snap will release additional information about the campaign later this month, said Snap President and CEO Eric Kelly.

In the meantime, Kelly said Snap will maintain its commitment to the channel, including ensuring that all of its NAS appliances will continue to be available via Tech Data, Ingram Micro and Bell Microproducts.

Snap currently works with approximately 2,000 solution providers worldwide and is looking to increase that number, said Kelly. The company is expected shortly to introduce new services and bundled solutions for its channel partners to sell, he added.

As part of its spin-off from Quantum, Snap inherited a line of NAS appliances ranging from portable file servers with a 40-Gbyte capacity to models aimed at the entry-level enterprise space with up to 1.4 Tbytes in a 3U rack-mount chasis. However, Kelly said, the company is also in the process of integrating technology from Broadband Storage, a company acquired by Snap on the day it was spun out from Quantum.

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Broadband, formerly an Irvine, Calif.-based startup that is developing technology to combine NAS and SAN capabilities, brings to Snap more than 20 patents, as well as a Linux operating system for NAS appliances acquired from Western Digital's former Connex NAS division, Kelly said. Snap expects to introduce new product lines with Broadband's technology by year's end, he said.

Snap focuses its NAS products on the workgroup to entry-level enterprise space. Kelly said the company has a 75 percent market share in terms of number of NAS appliances sold to the workgroup market, and a 40 percent market share overall. The company is moving further into the enterprise with a recently introduced model in the $25,000 range, but is not targeting the high end, said Kelly. "We're not going to be the next EMC from a product standpoint," he said.

Because Snap is privately held, Kelly would not discuss company financials. However, he said revenue for the fourth quarter of 2002 was 17 percent above plan, and the quarter ended with what he termed a "healthy" backlog and one week of inventory in the channel. "Signals are that Q1 will exceed Q4," he said.

Last month, Richard Belluzzo, CEO of Quantum, which still retains a 20 percent stake in Snap, said one of the reasons his company spun off Snap was pressure from Microsoft's Windows-based operating system for NAS appliances, a move which threatens NAS vendors that rely on their own proprietary operating systems.

"We decided we didn't want to make the investment to continue to differentiate our products moving forward because it would only take away from our opportunities in data protection," Belluzzo said.

Kelly, on the other hand, said that new technologies such as Serial-ATA hard drives, broadband storage technology and the NAS-SAN convergence mean a bright future for the NAS business.

"The ability to provide such intelligence at the storage level is not so easy," he said. "People are talking about how to manage file data and block data, and how to back up such data. The technology is just starting to develop."