Paradoxically, The Very Success Of NAS Will Bring Its Demise


Dismissed as a niche and technologically poor solution to the growing demand for storage, the network-attached storage (NAS) market has been hogging headlines in the storage space over the last six months.

A new study by Frost & Sullivan, the international marketing consulting company, highlights the extraordinary level of activity in the NAS market. EMC, Sun, Dell and IBM have all gained an edge in the European NAS market.

Network Appliance has released products in the departmental segment of the overall market at the same time as Procom's launch in the enterprise segment. Start-ups have launched their solutions to much fanfare. This intensive activity is indicative of an increasingly lucrative market, accruing revenues worth $410.0 million in 2000.

The key to the market, the study emphasises, lies in understanding the impact of storage and server vendors. One argument, provided by Andrew Ball, Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan, is that the entrance of storage and server vendors legitimises the NAS market and raises its profile as a storage solution. "Those companies best placed to capitalise on this are the dedicated NAS vendors who can draw strength from their years of experience in the NAS market," he says.

The second interpretation is that, fortified by their existing customer base and financial muscle, the major storage and server companies will inevitably crush the smaller participants.

"Both of these arguments, however," Ball explains, "are based on a misconception of the motivation of the storage and server vendors. For them, NAS is simply a part of the storage solution that is appropriate in certain situations and inappropriate in others. Offering NAS allows them to present themselves to the customer as being best placed to tailor the most appropriate set of products to their individual needs."

In such a market, both the established NAS vendors and the storage and server vendors can see signifcant growth. This means that the growth of the market will not be driven by a massive advertising spend, but by the strengths of NAS.

"The low cost of total ownership is particularly attractive to customers who are having to manage an explosive growth in data within a finite IT budget and augurs well for growth prospects in the overall marketplace," Ball continues.

The technology's potential to operate in a heterogeneous environment and the tendency towards specialisation is poised to boost sales. The wide availability of NAS, along with the technology's affordability and robustness, ease of implementation and management, will further help power demand.

Total sales are expected to climb to $1.38 billion by 2003.

Over the next two or three years, the simplicity of the NAS architecture will maximise its eminence in the storage market.

Ironically, the very success of NAS will lead to it being subsumed into the substantially larger networked storage market. The debate between SAN and NAS - and the extent to which they are already indistinguishable - generates more heat than light and obscure the key value of comparing SAN with NAS.

This crystallises the requirement for the development of open storage networking. The key driver to NAS is the fact that it is connected to the open IP/Ethernet network and, consequently, its ease of integration. In contrast, the switches within current SANs are not interoperable with each other and conflict over standards prevails.

The projected success of the NAS market will therefore drive the concept of open storage networking that will marry the principles of open storage provided by a NAS with the functionality offered by a SAN.

It will therefore no longer possible to discuss an enterprise NAS market. With this market accounting for over 90% of the value of the NAS we will therefore see the phenomenon of the vanishing NAS market.

The UK, Germany and France are the strongest revenue-generating NAS markets. This is simply because NAS is a new technology and vendors have understandably chosen to focus their resources on the most buoyant markets. The UK, in particular, has a disproportionate share of the market. This is a reflection of the close affinity with the United States and the fact that NAS is a technology that has been developed and implemented by US companies.

The growth of the NAS market in Europe hinges on an active and supportive reseller community that is able to support the launch of a new technology, the study concludes.

Report Code: 3988, Publication Date: July 2001, Price: 5,000 Euros

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Frost & Sullivan's Public Relations Department
Tel. +44 (0) 20 7343 8376 or Fax. +44 (0) 20 7343 8380


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