IBM and Netapp: A marriage with ups and downs.
RichardSwain 060000VQ8G Tags:  nseries nas marriage lsi ibm ds5000 xiv ds4000 sql exchange onstor engenio netapp ds3000 17,991 Views
When I first started working at IBM, we had a couple of NAS storage devices: NAS 100, NAS 300(G) and the NAS 500. The NAS 100 was a 1U server appliance that used Windows 2000 and so did the NAS 200 device, all built on IBM hardware. The NAS 500 was on an AIX system also from the IBM stock. They were traditional NAS type systems and IBM sold them as let us build the system for you so you don't have to. Somewhat limited in functionality but did the job they were designed to do, serve NAS data.
That same year, IBM decided to partner with a company that was doing some things in the storage market that looked really interesting. Network Appliance had just started gaining steam with their Data Ontap code (6.something if I remember correctly) and had broken the barrier that IBM systems lacked. Unified protocols from a single architecture and integration into other products like Exchange and SQL using their cool snapshot technology. It took some time to get up to speed on the new Netapp technology with snap this and snap that, but soon we were all talking about waffles and aggrs.
Through out the years, the product set grew and so did the hardware offering. We kept up with the releases and for the most part a 20-60 day lag in release of new software was ok for most IBM customers. We partnered with the sales teams and support teams to help grow the N series customers base and to keep them happy. As with any partnership there are bumps along the way and there seemed to be two parents telling each other they agree to disagree. All in all the N series system has been very successful at IBM.
But as the years progressed, new technology like XiV, Real Time Compression, TSM Flash Copy Manager etc, have filled some of those voids previously filled by N series in the IBM portfolio. As with many companies there are products that overlap and N series does overlap over half of the product line at IBM Storage. Positioning became harder as sales teams questioned when to sale N series and when to sell something "blue". We quickly learned that customers really liked what N series brought to the table and how the solution could be so flexible.
Now with the news of Netapp purchasing Engenio I wonder how the relationship between IBM and Netapp will survive. IBM also rebrands the Engenio products as the IBM DS 3k, 4k and 5k. I guess the bigger question is now what will Netapp do with that product line? If history is any indicator, they will simple keep things like they are for some time and slowly move the customers over to a Data OnTap product. The other question is how long will IBM keep sending money over to Netapp for products that we sale and support?