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Commentary: Strong rivals make NAS a great race to watch

The network-attached storage market is taking off this year, with enterprise spending estimated at $1.6 billion--almost 170 percent growth over 1999.

    By Pushan Rinnen, Gartner Analyst

    The network-attached storage (NAS) market has really taken off this year, with enterprise spending estimated at $1.6 billion--almost 170 percent growth over 1999.

    The high-end NAS segment, where Network Appliance

    See news story:
    EMC move seen as validating NetApp storage approach
    and EMC are the top two players, accounts for 90 percent of the revenue opportunity. Gartner Dataquest forecasts that the high-end NAS market will grow to $6.2 billion in 2004.

    Strong storage demand drives the high growth projection. In terms of raw terabytes, storage as a whole will grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 70 percent from 1999 to 2004. The vast majority of the market demand will be fulfilled by networked storage, namely, storage area networks (SANs) and NAS. Although current NAS products' performance does not now match that of SAN, NAS will gain in importance since it rivals SAN in simplicity and is based on the familiar industry standard--the Ethernet.

    With the announcement of the EMC Clariion IP4700 NAS product, EMC and Network Appliance will have more head-on collisions. EMC said that the IP4700 is priced comparably with Network Appliance's filer 840--i.e., Network Appliance's high-end product announced a few months ago. The IP4700 uses the NAS technologies that EMC obtained when it acquired CroStor recently. CroStor provides appliance features, such as an average 10-minute installation, which are missing from EMC's Celerra product.

    Gartner believes that EMC's name brand and strong sales force will make the IP4700 a strong competitor against Network Appliance. Meanwhile, Network Appliance will not sit still. It continues its push into the database arena, and its initiatives such as the Direct Access File System over Virtual Interface will enable the company to enjoy continued success in the NAS market. In 2001, it will be interesting to watch the game and see whether EMC can grab the market share lead from Network Appliance.

    (For related commentary on NAS and SAN technology, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.) Entire contents, Copyright ? 2000 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.