Network Appliance to Acquire Spinnaker Networks for $300M -

Network Appliance to Acquire Spinnaker Networks for $300M

Network Appliance jumped on the information lifecycle management (ILM) bandwagon today by entering into a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held Spinnaker Networks for $300 million in stock.

The deal is an important one for Network Appliance, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based storage vendor looking to keep up with giants IBM and EMC in staking territory in the network storage space. Pittsburgh, Penn.-based Spinnaker makes distributed file systems, clustering technologies, and virtualization, which are some of the qualities recently introduced in IBM's Storage Tank technology, SAN File System.

NetApp considers Spinnaker to be "a pioneer in scalable system architectures, distributed file systems, next-generation clustering technologies, and virtualization." Spinnaker's key intellectual property is a combination of two technologies, its SpinServer family of NAS servers and its Spin FS global distributed file system.

Recently validated by the ESG Lab as an "Enterprise NAS solution," the SpinServer family enables centralized management of up to 512 SpinServers in a scalable cluster as a single global storage pool, reducing the time, complexity, and cost of managing large-scale NAS storage assets.

The Spinnaker SpinFS global distributed file system allows all Spinnaker storage to be managed from a single command line or Web-based management console with a single management view. In combination, the file system and SpinServer seamlessly scale performance and capacity beyond competitive solutions from Network Appliance and EMC, the company claims. Specifically, SpinFS makes it possible for SpinClusters to scale up to 11,000 terabytes.

Spinnaker Expected to Speed the Delivery of NetApp's "Storage Grid" Architecture

"With this technology, Network Appliance is clearly extending its offerings in high-end storage solutions, and with its ability to unify SANs by adding Fibre Channel and iSCSI, this has the potential to be a great move for NetApp," says Steve Duplessie, principal analyst at Enterprise Storage Group. "This will enhance the NetApp competitive position and time to market with the next new advance."

Specifically, the purchase is expected to go a long way toward helping NetApp speed the delivery of its "Storage Grid" architecture, part of a trend by major vendors looking to treat storage heavy lifting with grid computing to provide faster transactions, scale, and volume.

Geared for both storage area network (SAN) and network-attached storage (NAS) environments, storage grids offer a dashboard view to manage corporate data, enabling tighter application integration with database and enterprise applications. They also afford companies the ability to more easily manage content based on policies and improve data security.

From helping to ease data creation to deployment to disposal, NetApp is positioning the "Storage Grid" architecture as its answer to the information lifecycle management (ILM) riddle, which EMC, HP , and Hitachi Data Systems all believe they have solved in recent months through acquisition or in-house development. Analysts say well-rounded ILM strategies will help storage companies take care of the compliance needs of their customers in light of the passage, or pending passage, of a number of federal regulations.

"Today's business demands fast, reliable, secure access to data and robust new approaches for information lifecycle management," states Dan Warmenhoven, CEO of Network Appliance. "The combination of NetApp unified storage and software solutions with advanced distributed systems architectures from Spinnaker further accelerates the shift to networked storage and speeds our ability to deliver powerful new Storage Grids as the foundation for data infrastructures of the future."

Upon completion of the deal, Network Appliance will integrate the SpinServer product line with its own product family and will continue to operate Spinnaker as an engineering and development site in Pittsburgh, padding current NetApp research and development teams in Massachusetts, North Carolina, and California.

The deal is expected to close by January 2004.

Story adapted from

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