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NetApp nabs partnership with SuSE Linux

NAS maker Network Appliance has struck a deal with SuSE Linux AG. They'll partner on NAS and iSCSI development, as well as customer support.

Network-attached storage juggernaut Network Appliance Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif., has struck a deal with SuSE Linux AG to partner on NAS, iSCSI development and customer support.

Sources told that the partnership, to be formally announced today, addresses the growing popularity of both iSCSI and Linux by enabling the two companies to better meet the growing demand for increased storage flexibility on Linux.

The partnership was born out of the companies' having a common customer base. "We have been working on some customers with SuSE, especially in Europe," said June White, director of Unix/Linux platform partnerships at Network Appliance. White said that SuSE will develop and distribute an iSCSI initiator.

But the partnership is more than just a bid to capitalize on Nuremburg, Germany-based SuSE Linux's popularity across the pond. SuSE U.S. general manager Holger Dyroff said Europe is not the only market for Linux-based iSCSI systems. "We also have a huge demand in the United States," he said.

NetApp said that its systems provide customers running SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8, powered by United Linux, optimized performance, simplified management and, perhaps most important, a lower price tag.

The partnership lets SuSE Linux offer cost-effective, large-scale deployments of computing farms enabled by Network Appliance unified storage solutions, the companies said. SuSE has tested and certified NetApp's storage systems across a range of protocols and connectivity options.

"It makes perfect sense and helps them provide a low-cost, almost universally accepted [operating system] that works well and doesn't lock people into Microsoft," Mike Karp, a senior analyst with Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Enterprise Management Associates Inc.

Karp predicts that more NAS vendors will follow suit by introducing non-Microsoft operating systems into their offerings.

NetApp said SuSE Linux is suited for upcoming iSCSI environments and the Direct Access File System (DAFS) technology.

The companies have also entered a joint support agreement.

There has been a groundswell of interest in Linux-based NAS systems, according to John Webster, founder and senior analyst at Data Mobility Group Inc., Nashua, N.H.

"The Linux-based market could be very big. It is a competitor for Windows-based NAS and [targets] those looking for an alternative to Windows," Webster said.

Executives declined comment on whether the partnership with SuSE is related to NetApp's upcoming entry-level iSCSI system. Last month, was first to report that NetApp is putting the finishing touches on a product called the FAS250, which supports both iSCSI-based systems and NAS.

The FAS250 supports up to one terabyte of storage and software compatibility with the rest of NetApp's product line. It can be upgraded to any other NetApp enterprise appliance, according to a source at the company. More information on the system is expected to be made public later this year.

Let us know what you think about the story. E-mailKevin Komiega, News Writer

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