IBM to Scrap Windows NAS Lines?

Sources say Big Blue plans to phase out Microsoft's Windows-based NAS

June 27, 2003

2 Min Read
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IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is planning to discontinue its NAS product family based on Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows, sources tell Byte and Switch.

One source familiar with IBM's plans, who requested anonymity, says the change is a strategic move by the company. "It's not short-term stuff," he says. The source says IBM is not considering making an acquisition or entering into a joint venture for its next-generation NAS platform but emphasizes that the company will "continue to improve its ability to address the NAS marketplace."

Another industry source, meanwhile, says IBM has developed a "NAS-like offering" out of its StorageTank distributed file system project. StorageTank, which has been in development for more than five years, runs on a Linux kernel. IBM expects to deliver the software (renamed TotalStorage SAN File System) in December 2003 (see IBM Virtually in the Game and IBM Gasses Up Storage Tank).

Currently, IBM offers three Windows-based NAS systems: the low-end NAS 100, a 1U-high system that offers up to 480 GBytes of storage; the NAS 200, which provides up to 7 TBytes in a single system; and the NAS Gateway 300, which provides connectivity to back-end SAN storage (see IBM Turns NAS Crank).

IBM officials did not respond to requests for information by press time.A shift in IBM's NAS strategy away from Microsoft would inevitably dampen some of Redmond's gathering momentum in the segment. Some analysts believe Microsoft and its partners have the potential -- at some point -- to give Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) a serious run for its money (see NetApp Squares Off With Redmond).

Zane Adam, director of product management and marketing in Microsoft's Enterprise Storage Division, would not confirm whether or not IBM is phasing out its Windows NAS. "Obviously I cannot speak for IBM," he says.

However, Adam says, Microsoft's share of the NAS market continues to grow and it continues to steadily sign up new OEMs. "The thing that happens in any new market is that competition increases and different OEMs and partners will pick different segments they want to compete in depending on their competencies," he says.

Even without IBM, though, Microsoft has a strong stable of other vendors that license the its NAS software, including Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL), Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and Iomega Corp. (see HP Births Bouncing Baby NAS).

In addition, EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) in April announced that it will release a low-end NAS system based on Microsoft's operating system in the third quarter of this year (see Microsoft Powers Up NAS Play and EMC Kisses Microsoft's NAS).Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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