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Grid Fever Grips NetApp
With its pending Spinnaker Networks Inc. acquisition, Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) hopes to be the first major storage-networking vendor to dive into grid computing. But NetApp officials, discussing the acquisition at a media and analyst event today, said they were headed in that direction before Spinnaker entered their sights.
The $300 million Spinnaker deal was announced last month and is expected to close in January (see NetApp Annexes Spinnaker). Assuming the deal goes through, NetApp will first tackle the problem of integrating its hardware with Spinnaker's, then start the long grind of merging the two companies' operating systems.
NetApp's grid obsession came from watching what was happening in the server world. Servers continue to get larger and carry more microprocessors, but another way to increase computing power is to scatter applications across multiple smaller servers. The idea is to give customers more processing power while avoiding the expense and engineering headaches of building infinitely larger servers.
"Storage has not responded to that trend," says Suresh Vasudevan, NetApp vice president of product marketing. "It's on a trajectory to build Cray-like machines."
Not that there's anything wrong with Cray-like machines, but NetApp officials figured most customers wouldn't want to foot the bill for them. They think a grid-like approach, combining multiple smaller systems, is the way to go.
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