NetApp Moves StoreVault Back Into Mothership

NetApp will widen the audience for the successful SMB system

February 15, 2008

3 Min Read
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Network Appliance is eliminating the boundaries that kept its StoreVault division a distinct entity inside the company.

"Today, StoreVault is focused exclusively on sales to small and medium businesses. We see a bigger opportunity to expand the target for the StoreVault platforms into remote and branch offices as an extension of our core FAS product line," said Jay Kidd, chief marketing officer at NetApp. "Coupled with our FAS 2000 product, this now gives our NetApp and our channel partners a broader entry product line to sell."

Kidd says there are no management changes as a result of the move, and he insists there will be no changes for resellers, other than having a broader choice of products to sell.

At least one channel partner thinks the news is good. "We had conflicts with NetApp when we sold StoreVault systems to enterprises," says the reseller, who asked not to be named. Enterprise customers were eagerly buying the systems because they were manageable, priced right, and easy to implement, he says. But some sources at NetApp HQ felt the StoreVault deals cut into territory that should rightfully belong to sellers of NetApp's FAS lineup.

"It was a threat. They wanted people to buy the more expensive solution," the reseller asserts.NetApp may now be seeking to close the gap that was forming internally and among channel partners. But exactly how that will play out remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, NetApp seems intent on making StoreVault a bigger part of its FAS lineup. Its status as a separate entity came about when NetApp created the separate StoreVault division back in 2006, with its own Website and marketing and sales support. The first product to launch was the StoreVault S500, a 2U system with raw capacity of 6 Tbytes. Two years later, the StoreVault S300, announced in October 2007, offers 4 Tbytes in a tabletop or rackmount 4U/half-rack system.

The StoreVault line is apparently selling well -- though exact figures were not broken out in the vendor's latest quarterly report. But NetApp is now looking to extend its reach further into mid-sized organizations, and the pressure is on to eliminate any internal contention about products.

No mention of SMBs or StoreVault was made on last night's earnings call. But Tom Georgens, who recently became president and COO, stressed "midrange" and enterprise storage several times. "Despite the growth in the entry segment, our fastest-growing products this quarter were our high-end systems, both in terms of units and dollars, now contributing almost 30 percent systems revenue," Georgens said.

Having a broader product lineup could help NetApp get into some of those the customer sites it feels it's missing today -- without having salespeople or channel partners from two separate parts of NetApp banging into each other at the door. A more unified sales approach could also help NetApp with FAS upgrades for StoreVault customers."NetApp bringing the StorVault line in under the main NetApp umbrella should help to get the product more coverage and exposure as opposed to it being a separate division," says analyst Greg Schulz of the StorageIO Group. "By being part of the main offering, NetApp can position with less confusion their total solution lineup."

Schulz also sees the move creating more sales options for NetApp: "I would also venture to speculate that NetApp will be better able to get the StorVault lineup into their primary reseller/VAR and OEM channel partners' hands with it being part of the primary lineup." It may also be easier to sell StoreVault to remote and departmental customers within large enterprises as part of larger FAS storage server deals, he says.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • The StorageIO Group

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