Western Digital spins off SAN business

Posted on April 01, 2001

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BY HEIDI BIGGAR

Western Digital last month formally split its Connex subsidiary into two companies in an attempt to better serve network-attached storage (NAS) and, especially, storage area network (SAN) management software markets, officials say.

The new company-SANavigator Inc.-will focus exclusively on developing storage management software based on its existing SANavigator architecture, while Connex will continue to engineer hardware and software for the NAS space. Both Connex and SANavigator are 100% funded by Western Digital.

The move to separate these distinct businesses into two companies has been in the works for some time, explains Robert Wright, president and COO at SANavigator. The two businesses were split into separate divisions about a year ago. They are located in separate buildings on the same San Jose, CA, campus.

For Western Digital, the decision to break Connex up along storage architectural lines was a relative "no brainer." Running the two as a single company created certain problems, leading to questions about the "purity" of the company's commitment to each space and, equally important, to missed sales and partnering opportunities, says Wright.

"The combined business was a problem for some potential partners who wanted to get involved on the software side but had competing products in the NAS space, and vice versa," he explains.

According to market researcher Gartner Group, the storage management software market will top $14 billion by 2004, while International Data Corp. projects the NAS market to approach $15 billion in 2003.

Released in September 2000, SANavi-gator software provides single-console discovery, topology, zoning, and launching capabilities for managing SANs. Competitive products include Veritas' SANPoint Control and Vixel's Insite 2000. SANavigator release 2.0 was scheduled to be unveiled at the Storage Networking World conference earlier this month; a "lite" version for entry-level markets was released in February.


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