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NetApp & Veritas Cuddle Up

Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) and Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS) today announced that they are taking their relationship a step further -- let's say they're more than just friends -- with a deal to jointly sell and market disk-based backup and archiving products.

The expanded deal is supposed to broaden the companies' go-to-market activities for backup and replication products. Although short on specifics, the duo pointed to several examples of areas they've already teamed on, including the ability to use Veritas's NetBackup with NetApp's NearStore system, which uses lower-cost ATA disk drives to provide online access to archival data (see Veritas, NetApp Link Arms).

Strategically, the NetApp/Veritas deal appears designed to let both vendors more effectively compete against EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), which is buying up backup and archive software company Legato Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: LGTO). Last week EMC executives outlined a strategy to expand the firm's offerings in the information lifecycle management (ILM) space, including a heavy emphasis on disk-to-disk backup (see EMC Gobbles Legato and EMC Salivates Over Software).

"It's absolutely important for NetApp to have a stronger software story, and it's going to be crucial as they accelerate in their competition against EMC," says Jamie Gruener, senior analyst at Yankee Group.

The deal feels a bit similar to the one NetApp struck earlier this year with Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), which is reselling a NetApp-based NAS gateway in conjunction with its storage arrays. That arrangement -- which also seems to have been driven by both vendors' desire to strengthen their competitive positioning against EMC -- allowed HDS to enter the NAS market more quickly than it otherwise could have, while giving NetApp an additional distribution channel (see Hitachi Gives NetApp Hot Wheels and HDS OEMs NetApp: Big Deal?).

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