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NetApp Squares Off With Redmond

Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) is refreshing the low end of its lineup with the FAS250 entry-level storage appliance -- which supports both iSCSI and NAS protocols -- taking sharper aim at a market segment where Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is surging.

With the FAS250, due to ship this summer, NetApp will be competing more directly with Microsoft partners that license Windows Powered NAS. They include Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and Iomega Corp.

Most recently, EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) announced that it will develop a Windows-based NAS box for the midtier market, leaving NetApp as the only major storage vendor that isn't incorporating Microsoft's NAS operating system into its products (see EMC Kisses Microsoft's NAS and Microsoft Gets NASty).

Now NetApp is striking back with a device that supports both file-level NAS access and block-level iSCSI via the same Gigabit Ethernet interface -- a capability Microsoft doesn't currently support, but the company promises iSCSI will be available for Windows Powered NAS 3.0 later this summer.

But Zane Adam, director of product management and marketing in Microsoft's Enterprise Storage Division, says it doesn't make sense to combine NAS with iSCSI target functionality in a single storage device. "I don't know of many customers who would want to use their NAS in an IP SAN," he says. "What you want is scaleable hardware in a SAN, and NAS at a certain point hits a limit."

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