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NetApp Stokes Competitive Fires

NetApp is planning some sweeping product changes, particularly in clustering, as the vendor goes on the offensive against rival Isilon, execs said at an analyst meeting today.

NetApp promised enhancements to the vendor's Decru security technology, virtual tape, and its GX clustering software during 2007. (See NetApp's GX Targets HPC.) "You will see new extensions to these technologies," said CEO Dan Warmenhoven during today's call, without offering much in the way of specifics.

The CEO was more forthcoming on the topic of Isilon, which has been trash-talking EMC and NetApp, accusing them of failing to make inroads into clustered NAS. (See Isilon's Counting on Clusters, Isilon Reports Earnings, and The Slings & Arrows of IPOs.) "They made some comments about NetApp during their recent IPO roadshow, [and] to be perfectly honest they pissed us off," said an agitated Warmenhoven, in response to a question from an analyst.

A financial analyst, who asked not to be named, told Byte and Switch that NetApp has likely been feeling the heat from its own financial backers. "Warmenhoven has probably had to address Isilon's remarks day in day out with investors," he said. "These things don't usually get addressed like that in a public forum -- that shows how angry he is," added the analyst.

Another NetApp exec at the meeting was a little more circumspect but promised that Isilon will have a fight on its hands. The clustering space, he admitted, had not been an area of "intense focus" for NetApp, although this situation has changed. "We're not going to let [Isilon] participate in that market by themselves any more -- they are going to have to play defense."

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