Both NetApp and Isilon are offering longer term commitments to their customers about their products. These are really more like Service Level Agreements (SLAs). NetApp will guarantee, for example, a certain amount of capacity savings in particular environments with their deduplication functionality. Isilon announced on Thursday (May 14t) that they will provide a long term commitment around cost, scale and utilization.
These SLA style commitments are really more functional for customers. I'm sure that neither Isilon or NetApp feel they are taking much risk when they make these commitments -- they know that their products will meet these service levels and they're just putting their money where their features are. Essentially stating that if their products don't do exactly what they say it will do at any point in time during the business relationship, you have some recourse.
This allows you to roll the product out on your timeline, not on a 30-day "see if it passes the sniff test" situation. Most companies that are going to make these types of commitments are going to require something of you as well. You'll have to use the product the way it was designed and in an environment that will let you reach those SLAs. There is nothing wrong with that, and in fact can help you make sure you use the product properly so that you do get maximum benefit.
Where I would love to see this SLA Guarantee model extended to is backups. How about a 100% recovery guarantee from backup vendors? We see repeated surveys indicate that a high percentage of recovery attempts fail; a smart backup vendor that makes and can stand behind this claim would be welcomed.