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No. of Recommendations: 6
I know I am risking offending a lot of people here but I just don't understand all the NTAP hype. They do compete in a growing market and they do have very good products. They are not a Gorilla and I don't think they can be called a Rule Breaker. They really haven't done anything new they have just done it better than most.

Their system was, and I think still is, a PC with an Intel CPU. They use a home-grown operating system instead of Win9x or Unix, and attach lots of disk drives. Others machines on the network access the data on them using the standard NFS (network file system) protocol.

Let's see how NTAP fares against the Gorilla characteristics:

Is there a discontinuous innovation or a proprietary open architecture? Large and small NFS data servers have been around for years since Sun developed the NFS protocol. Other systems on the network can't tell a difference between an NTAP system or a Windows PC running NFS.

Are there high barriers to entry and high switching costs? No. NTAP and others use an industry standard protocol, NFS, to communicate with other computers. NFS, like TCP/IP and HTTP, hide the details of the systems on the other end of the network. Have you ever cared what kind of web server gives you Motley Fool content? Anyone with a Unix server and a bunch of disk drives can create a comparable solution. It is quite simple with an HP, DEC, Compaq, or Sun machine. You may even be able to do it with a PC running Linux. What would happen to NTAP if Microsoft decided to market large disk farms with Windows 2000?

I bought two of their systems a couple of years ago. I found them to be simple, fast, and easy to configure. The support from NTAP was top notch. I'm sure they are a good invesment and the company will grow. But I don't see a world dominating company here.

- Alan
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