When Network Appliance Inc. opened its Canadian subsidiary in June it said it wanted VARs to take on half of its business.

So far so good, according to Jeff Goldstein, Canadian general manager for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-headquartered company.

“We’re now through our second quarter and half of our business is through the channel,” he says. “We’ve also signed a number of A-level storage integrators as partners. We wanted to pick some partners who could work with customers, understand their requirements, folks who did value-added type services like storage assessments and clustering and disaster recovery.”

While total revenues for the company have fallen, Goldstein says he’s glad to see the days of the dot-com craze come to end. The problem, he says, was companies didn’t care what a storage solution cost, they wanted it yesterday and that most often meant a storage area network (SAN), but times have changed.

“I haven’t met a CIO lately who says, ‘It’s all about time to market, I don’t care what it costs,'” says Goldstein. “Customers have realized their data is growing 35 to 50 per cent a year, but their budgets are no longer growing at that rate. So the IT folks are forced to do more with less.”

Convincing customers network attached storage is the better choice has been difficult, according to Dave Hitz, Network Appliance’s vice-president engineering. He says the last time most networking managers touched or configured a router was 10 years, when network wire was 100 times slower than disc wire. Now that ethernet can match fibre channel in speed, he argues, SAN has lost an advanatage.

Not so, says Nancy Marrone, a senior analyst with Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Storage Group.

“Regardless of the fact the bandwidth might be similar–one gig fibre channel, one gig Ethernet–you still have some protocol limitations that might impact someone would chose a SAN versus a NAS environment,” she says.

Compaq Computer Corp. and EMC Corp. recently announced a deal to license each other’s storage application programming interfaces (APIs), allowing each company to develop storage applications that could manage both companies’ storage systems. Hitz says it would benefit his company if everyone began swapping APIs, but it would hardly have the market to itself.

“It benefits the whole industry. I think one of the reasons that you see a lack of storage networking overall is because of a lack of interoperability and difficulty being able to manage the storage network environment — I don’t care if it’s SAN or if it’s NAS,” Marrone says.

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