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Network Appliance Eyes CDN Enterprise Solutions

Less than a week after announcing that it would hold off on providing guidance concerning its ailing quarterly sales, Network Appliance Inc. Monday announced a series of deals aimed at catering to companies' storage needs in the enterprise space.

Chief among the new applications are the network-attached storage firm's content delivery network (CDN) solutions, which are especially geared for enterprise solutions.

The products will help businesses scale back travel and communication costs. Applications include document dissemination of business analysis and sales and marketing collateral, which offers enterprises timely delivery of large files to remote offices, reducing network bottlenecks and costs and improving employee productivity. Network Appliance has also crafted streaming media applications for e-learning and corporate communications are among two of the most popular applications for enterprise CDNs.

These products consist of two enterprise CDN solution packages that include NetApp storage, NetCache content delivery solutions and ContentDirector and ContentReporter software. These applications enable complete CDN functionality including content storage, management, delivery, and reporting.

The firm also debuted the newest version of NetCache software -- NetCache 5.1 -- which offers expanded enterprise functionality including increased bandwidth management and advanced content distribution technologies.

In terms of partnerships, Network Appliance, whose bread and butter is selling its goods to customers such as Deutsche Telekom and Vignette Corp., tabbed Seattle-based RealNetworks Inc. to market streaming applications sculpted on RealNetworks' streaming formula. Specifically, NetApp enterprise solutions manage the network traffic load, allowing administrators to control the content of the network and ensure that applications have plenty of bandwidth. By caching and splitting RealNetworks streaming media, NetApp provides the enterprise end user with a necessary multimedia capabilities. RealNetworks RealVideo delivers near-DVD quality starting at 500 kbps, and RealAudio delivers CD quality starting at 32 kbps.

It also tapped another Seattle-company, Widevine Technologies, to create a technology first -- encrypted edge delivery of streaming media.

That company's chief product -- Widevine Cypher -- shields copyrighted content from being stolen, pirated or viewed by unwelcome eyes. Widevine Cypher, which works in conjunction with NetCache solutions from Network Appliance to deliver powerful, secure streaming media functionality enterprise CDNs.

Network Appliances is well known for its near 10-year commitment to the storage space, where it specializes in network-attached storage, a philosophy that is different than approaches by some rivals in the storage space, such as EMC Corp., a purveyor of storage area networks (SANs).

A SAN is a separate network apart from a company's LAN (local area network) that allows servers to talk and work with each other with what is usually the Fibre Channel protocol. NAS , Network Appliance's specialty, uses a dedicated storage device, typically a server with a host of RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks) storage capacity, that is attached to the network. Given those two styles, companies have two choices for their large data storage needs -- pick up NAS devices and to work with the LAN or build a SAN to back up the LAN.

While experts may be hard pressed to prove which method is better than the other (the argument has spawned enough debate), it is not unthinkable that the two may one day work together.

It's no secret NetApp could use the good news given its current condition, and the frigidity of the IT spending is pervasive throughout the economy. Dan Warmenhoven, the company's chief executive officer, said last Wednesday that the company is not yet ready to forecast results of the next fiscal quarter.

"The effects of the economy have caused us to revise our outlook. You know, I don't think we're in a position at this point to give any guidance on Q1," Warmenhoven said in a conference call, after announcing that sales in the fourth quarter would fall 20 to 25 percent from the previous quarter.

The CEO said he would know more fiscal specifics by May 15, when NetApp will close the quarter.

To be sure, NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP) is not the only one hard hit by a tough economy. EMC (NYSE:EMC) last week said it earned $475 million, or 18 cents a share for the first quarter of this year, 2 cents less than analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial expected.

*Clint Boulton is Assistant Editor for InternetNews.com, a property of Internet.com.



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