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Panasas Pins Future on Unproven Spec: Page 3 of 5

The first iteration of the Panasas device will not support OSD. However, like the majority of other NAS devices out there today it will provide file system backup and other services through industry standard protocols such as NDMP, NFS and CIFS. "Our company is based on industry standards," says JP Gallagher, product marketing manager at Panasas.

"Nirvana will come for the customer when OSD happens though," qualifies Rodney Schrock, president and CEO of Panasas.

But for OSD to really fly, it will require the operating systems vendors to cooperate, as well as the hardware vendors. Middleware suppliers such as Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS) and Legato Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: LGTO) will have to modify their software. The database developers will have to retune their engines to accommodate the new structure, and, likewise, the host bus adaptor vendors will have to tweak their products to work with OSD devices.

This is a big bet to take for a small startup. And not only that, Panasas faces steep competition from industry heavyweights like Network Appliance, Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ), and EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC); as well as a multitude of startups, including, Zambeel Inc., FalconStor Software Inc., DataCore Software, Lefthand Networks, and KOM Networks Inc., among an increasing pool of companies that are working on next-generation network-attached storage.

In its favor, Panasas has an impressive executive team. Rodney Schrock, president and CEO, was previously CEO at AltaVista Corp. Prior to that, he spent 12 years at Compaq, where he climbed to senior VP and group general manager of Compaq's consumer products, a $4+ billion business.