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Network Appliance Challenges Low-Cost Windows Storage

Vendor introduces inexpensive network-attached storage devices to combat market gains by Windows-based devices.
Business-technology managers shopping for network-attached storage devices have to make one key decision: A Windows-based NAS device, offered by multiple vendors, or one from Network Appliance Inc., which helped to create the NAS market.

Microsoft isn't reluctant to say that it's competing with NetApp for market share. Network Appliance, on the other hand, says it rarely runs into the lower-priced Windows-based NAS devices when bidding on a contract.

But Network Appliance, which uses its own operating system, has lost a lot of market share to Microsoft's storage partners, which hold about half of the market. So the one-time market leader fired back Monday with a line of low-cost NAS devices designed to compete with the Windows-based storage devices.

Network Appliance rolled out a line of clustered NAS systems that promise strong performance and scalability in a device that's only about 3 inches tall. And prices start around $10,000.

The new systems will increase competition between Microsoft and Network Appliance, says Jamie Gruener, an analyst at the Yankee Group. "Customers get a lot of functionality from a large NetApp box that will be available in the new line," Gruener says. "No matter what NetApp box a customer buys, though, he can still connect any NetApp box to another under one management umbrella."