IBM Splits with NetApp in Pursuit of Homegrown Software Defined Storage

Posted on May 28, 2014 By Pedro Hernandez

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IBM and NetApp are parting ways.

Big Blue has ended its OEM agreement with NetApp, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg. As of May 27, IBM is no longer selling NetApp N series systems, according to the business news outlet. Instead, customers will be pointed to IBM's own offerings.

IBM and NetApp share a long OEM partnership that stretches back to 2005. Over the years, the companies, rolled out several iterations of N series block and file networked storage systems, in a bid to compete against data storage giant EMC. IBM is NetApp's largest OEM customer.

A webpage that encapsulated the IBM-NetApp partnership reads:

"Together with IBM's N series solutions and the ability to offer the NetApp software portfolio, IBM helps clients improve their alignment of IT assets with current and future business goals, while improving the quality, scalability and reliability of service delivery. Anticipated benefits include reduced IT complexity, efficient storage, server and desktop environments and controlled costs."

This month, IBM will call upon its own resources to provide those benefits.

"IBM is focused on strengthening its Software Defined Storage portfolio to provide greater scalability to clients," a spokesperson told Bloomberg. Software defined storage (SDS) has emerged as one of the hottest trends in enterprise data storage.

Often used interchangeably with storage virtualization, the term has come to describe software solutions that generally decouples storage management, optimization, automation and orchestration capabilities from the underlying hardware.

The result, if implemented properly, is an agile storage infrastructure that allows organizations to better align storage capacity and performance with needs of their business applications and priorities. The SDS competition ranges from big vendors like HD to startups like OSNexus and Nexenta.

NetApp, meanwhile, is banking on high-margin flash storage to counteract a sales slowdown in the fourth quarter of the company's 2014 fiscal year.

The company beat analyst expectations by reporting profits of $284 million, or $0.84 per share versus Wall Street's consensus of $0.79. Sales, on the other hand, slipped to $1.649 billion during the quarter, compared to $1.71 billion a year ago.

In a conference call, NetApp CEO Tom Georgens said his company had sold 18 petabytes of flash during that period. He described NetApp as "the leader in the flash market with the best positioned portfolio both in terms of what is available today and what is coming."

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.


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