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Is NetApp SANbagging?

Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) has engaged in an unusual bit of marketing jujitsu: It's bragging that its Fibre Channel-attached storage arrays match or exceed the performance of its competitors, while at the same time telling users that the results are "misleading."

Is NetApp trying to have its cake and eat it too?

Here's the story: NetApp earlier this month published performance test results on its Website showing its FAS825C, FAS940C, and FAS960C FC-attached storage systems performing on a par with, or beating, the midrange systems from EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ). NetApp's FAS systems, launched last fall, represent its first foray into the SAN-attached storage market (see NetApp Does the Storage Two-Step).

In the white paper, dated March 8, NetApp compares its own internal benchmark testing to the results published by HP and EMC on their Websites. It charts the performance of its midrange F825C and its higher-end FAS940C and FAS960C systems against HP's Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) and EMC's Clariion CX200, CX400, and CX600 on two tests: I/O operations per second (IOPS) and throughput (cached read data rates).

On each of the tests, NetApp's boxes appear to stack up well against the systems of two main rivals:

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