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Dave, thanks for tossing some stimulating fuel on a fire that benefits us all. I'm jet-lagged and overdue for a nap that precludes any more thoughtful reply, but have two observations I've observed in the high-end SAN and tape silo wars that might be germane...

First, vendor loyalty is not nearly as hardwired as some would portray it. Large corporate storage clients are aggressive shoppers and seem inclined to award new and incremental storage bids mostly on the basis of price/performance. Anecdotally (over the past six to nine months), nobody in that market is commanding much premium except EMC and I've heard enterprise purchasing people use them as an example of everything that can go wrong with a vendor lock-in. Some of the big NYC financial institutions are letting it be known that they're buying "brand-x" just to keep EMC honest and at least two of the big SAN vendors regard sales-cycles to displace EMC as more attractive than their competitive server sales cycles and focusing resources accordingly. A three- to six-month payoff is not considered unreasonable. So, I wouldn't immediately consign DSS to the low-end ghetto if their NAS solutions are capable of moving upstream and they have relationships to build around.

Second, regarding your observation:

The interesting thing about focusing on the ultra-low-end market first is that in the super-low-end market, the product design has to be very economical, and administration costs really need to be zero. There's the hope that DSS's stupid low-end design will be appealing to data centers filled with more and more NAS boxes.

This is actually a very profound reality in a world that is rapidly embracing the out-sourced, co-located, lowest-cost footprint model that the ISP/ASP/HSP evolution brings to the table. With so much distributed-server capacity coming on-line in hosting services sites, it seems inevitable that costs will be driven out quickly. Low-end NAS that can demonstrably move up-stream should catch on the way rack-mountable, commodity servers have done.

Anyway, off to a glass of cabernet and some much-needed sleep...

Bob Sutton
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