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January 03, 2008


Chuck Hollis

A brief update:

First, this seems to be a VERY popular story today. Most of my web hits are coming from inside NetApp, though!

More to the point, commentary has been offered that this will somehow help NetApp penetrate large enterprise accounts.

Wishful thinking, I believe. It's going to take more than a nifty enterprise SAN tool to solve that problem in any meaningful way.

Finally, some have speculated that my negative tone might signify concern and/or fear. Other than a healthy respect for NetApp and Onaro, there's nothing really out of the ordinary.

If I were to be cynical, I could call this a small "win" for EMC as follows; Onaro is out-of-the-game for a while, and NetApp is distracted with a new acquisition and a bunch of interesting integration problems.

But I'm not that cynical.


Chuck, I agree with you that this is a short-term win for EMC - the distraction is always good for those not involved in a merger.

However, I do think you missed the point - I think that NetApp is looking to grow into the top enterprise space, an area where until now they have been challenged. That Onaro is installed in a third of the Fortune 50 goes part of the way to this. That Onaro has a solid application interface will aid NetApp to gain traction here, if they go about setting the marketing strategy (and compensation/quotas!) with the two sales forces.

So it may add some pressure to EMC at the high end, but it may also remove some pressure from HDS - after all, I understand that HDS has partnered in the past with Onaro to compliment their portfolio on sales campaigns.

Good point about NetApp struggling with their prior acquisitions - I wouldn't be surprised if they mess this one up too.

Chuck Hollis

Hi mgbrit ...

No, I didn't miss the spin around Onaro "helping NetApp penetrate enterprise accounts". I just don't believe it, and here's why:

By all standards, Onaro is a small company with a small footprint in a relatively small market by industry standards. I too know how to play the "our product is being used by ..." game as well, so don't be overly swayed by this one.

I may go dig up some comparative numbers to prove my point, but Onaro's current revenues in this market segment are probably something like 1/100th those of the established players, like EMC.

Going further, having an enterprise product to sell (through acquisition) does not make a vendor an enterprise vendor.

Should NetApp seriously desire growth in the large enterprise segment, they'll have more to do than acquire a 50-ish person company, I'd offer.

Thanks for writing!


Hi Chuck & mgbrit,

The points are captured well and brings up a good third eye.

I would disagree with the following point.
>>Simply put: Onaro's products aren't targeted at >>NetApp's classic customers, and NetApp's products >>aren't targeted at Onaro's classic customers. >>I'd rate the strategic alignment part of this as >>"poor".

I wonder why there is a need for a synergy when these two companies had different eyes earlier. The point is how the merger goes. If the merger really works out well, then all my following points will be very true.

I hope that Netapp needs a strong contender when they scale up in Enterprise segment which may be assured by Onaro. But this is creating lot of interest. Also Onaru will get good opportunity to meet the customers of medium business segments.

If this merger works out well, then Netapp will ring alarms.

-- V

Chuck Hollis

Hi Vijay -- your view is shared by many, but -- I have to say -- I just don't see it.

Maybe I'm just too close to the situation.

Up to now, I've noticed that storage management tools are mostly sold at the same time, and to the same people, as storage arrays, Onaro's modest success notwithstanding.

If I'm selling a bunch of filers, people want filer-oriented management tools at the same time. If I'm selling a bet-your-business SAN, they want the appropriate management tools at the same time.

Market posturing aside, NetApp ain't targeting mission-critical SANs. Check out their own statements, you'll hear things like "tier 2" and whatnot. And any decent market analysis will show you the same thing.

The only way they'll be able to synergize this investment is (a) re-direct Onaro's R+D and product focal points to where NetApp is selling now, or (b) come up with a huge investment to develop and market a mission-critical SAN product suite.

Both are possible; neither are easy.

Thanks for writing!

John McArthur

For me the bigger question is whether NetApp can grow an independent software business, as EMC has done with the Documentum, Legato, and so many more acquisitions, not to mention VMware, which is REALLY indepedent. Onaro is in some very big accounts, and, as one extremely happy Onaro customer said to me, "If it's only about NetApp software on NetApp storage, it's not worth it." He needs it to manage his EMC environment, too.

Chuck Hollis

Excellent points, John, as usual.

Today NetApp's software business is actually a function (and largely captive to) their hardware business.

And, you're right, for long term success, they'll need a relatively independent software business, and Onaro might be a start.

We'll see how it plays out in the next 12 months or so, will it be captive, or independent? Right now, it looks like to rolls to the main product group, so it doesn't look promising.

Thanks for commenting!

software testing services

Hey Chuck ! I am also with you. It is a short-term win for EMC - the distraction is always good for those not involved in a merger.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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