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What's in a NAS?

4:00 PM -- IDC's quarterly Worldwide Disk Storage Systems Tracker has hit the streets. And it seems Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) is unhappy with how its market share compares with EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC):

    In IDCs new and revised reports, NetApp and EMC are in a statistical tie for leadership in terms of NAS revenue, due to the inclusion of Content Addressable Storage (CAS), or object-oriented storage, in the NAS figures... NetApp, other storage vendors, industry analysts, and industry experts all agree that CAS systems are not NAS systems... If CAS products are rightly excluded from the NAS market, as EMC and industry experts believe they should, then NetApp is the clear market leader...

    Do not be fooled by EMC claims of success in the NAS market – as you can see by the data and analysis in this document when looking at the true NAS market, NetApp is the clear leader. NetApp not only leads this market, we have the momentum.

We pinged IDC. Brad Nisbet, program manager of storage systems there, won't comment on what NetApp thinks of his numbers. But it seems the flap came up when IDC recounted some revenue for EMC Centera operating systems:

    We have been counting Centera as "NAS" since it first shipped in Q3-2002.
    What we have not been counting is the value of the operating system for Centera. We added this back for all previous quarters (Q302 thru Q404) and included in our Q105 estimates... We will continue to evaluate our taxonomy and consider modifications as other vendors begin to participate in the market with products marketed as "CAS".

Hmm. It's all in the software, so to speak. Now, it's clear that a NAS without an operating system is really no NAS at all. But now it looks like there's other stuff in that operating system that's muddying the waters.

What do you mean, you don't care? That's nearly four points of market share in IDC's report we're talking about. IDC says EMC led the NAS market last quarter with 37.8 percent share, followed by NetApp with 34.2 percent share. When NetApp does the math, it gets 38 percent share of the NAS market, compared with EMC's 31 percent.

As NetApp says, "Don't be fooled."

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