Virtually Changed Landscape

Cisco's purchase of NeoPath draws some lines in the sand where file virtualization's concerned

March 14, 2007

2 Min Read
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5:30 PM -- Cisco's purchase of NeoPath Networks alters the shape of the network file virtualization market in several ways.

First, it equips Cisco, like EMC, with a technology that's become increasingly vital for customers with large collections of unstructured files, typically housed in NAS.

Now the pressure's on Cisco to make the most of its newly acquired wares. The company is playing things close to the vest, refusing to divulge how it will sell NeoPath's appliance from here on. What's more, integration of NeoPath's technology with Cisco's WAAS platform could take time, and there's no guarantee it won't meet the fate of some other Cisco modules. Remember the Veritas blade? (See Veritas Finally Delivers on Cisco.)

Still, in the words of one analyst, Cisco's move clarifies two basic approaches to the technology involved. "It is very clear that we're heading into a world that will pit Microsoft and its platform-based approach against Cisco with its network-centric approach," says Brad O'Neill of the Taneja Group.

Cisco's move also puts Acopia in the spotlight, and Acopia's management is basking there. "I'm opening a bottle of champagne!" quips Christopher P. Lynch, Acopia's CEO. "Another competitor is going by the wayside, and we're standing tall, excited about our prospects."Without describing what those prospects are, exactly, Lynch is clear that IPO could be one of them. (Acopia is not in a quiet period, however.) He's also not worried about Attune, the only other well known file virtualization company left standing alone. "I'm going to open two bottles of champagne!" gushes Lynch.

There are also questions about NetApp in all this. While NetApp has a deal to OEM software from Brocade's NuView acquisition, the company reportedly has fallen behind on developing a fully functional CIFS version of its GX operating system. That means customers will have to wait another year for what they want in GX, giving room to other vendors eager for a leg up in NAS. (NetApp's spokespeople didn't respond to queries about this at press time.)

Bottom line: Cisco's set the wheel in motion with its 118th acquisition. It'll be interesting to see where the ball lands.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Acopia Networks Inc.

  • Attune Systems Inc.

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • NeoPath Networks

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