Network Appliance (NetApp) is to acquire privately held Spinnaker Networks, which provides enterprise networked storage applications, in a deal valued at approximately $300m.
NetApp said that the move will accelerate the delivery of NetApp Storage Grid architecture for storage area networks (Sans) and network attached storage (Nas).
"This is clearly a technology buy," explained Tim Pitcher, NetApp vice president for northern Europe. "The idea is to have a simple open interface architecture giving greater flexibility."
Pitcher said that the purchase gave the channel more to talk about and was good news for NetApp customers. "But it does not alter any of our go-to-market strategies," he added.
The idea behind storage grids is the provision of storage capacity on demand at high speed from the available pools of storage distributed across the network.
It also complements grid applications, which run using spare capacity on computers on the network, and includes connection using different protocols.
Pitcher explained that this meant access primarily using fibre channel and iSCSI, while providing a single virtualised view and management of distributed corporate data.
"Management of distributed pools of storage is becoming a bigger issue and this adds to its portfolio," Simon Gay, consultancy practice leader at Computacenter, told vnunet.com.
"This confirms that NetApp is making definite efforts to broaden its appeal from being a Nas-only supplier."
There are various technical hurdles to achieving a storage grid, including ensuring storage availability, quality of service and data security.
Steve Duplessie, principal analyst at US storage analyst Enterprise Storage Group, suggested that Spinnaker's leadership in next-generation storage architecture would allow NetApp to extend high-end storage and unify Sans with fibre channel and iSCSI.
Spinnaker has shipped just over 75 SpinServer systems worldwide this year but does not have its own formal distribution channel.
After completion of the deal, expected in January, the Spinnaker product line will be integrated into the NetApp family, with Spinnaker's Pittsburgh facility becoming a NetApp engineering and development site.
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