The relationship with IBM, which is also a competitor, has given NetApp access to corporate data centers, where the largest deals can be found. Meanwhile, the company has moved into storage software, which enables it to sell even more products into its installed base, says Nisbet. The company has also broadened its hardware line, offering both high-capacity and high-performance drives in the same storage device, he says.
There's some disagreement about whether the new products are really in the same class as its rivals -- Enterprise Strategy Group storage analyst Tony Asaro says they are not -- but it is clear that NetApp is moving up the food chain in a manner that bears watching.
IDC's Nisbet says it is too early to know if NetApp is winning high-end share from EMC with its new products, but the company's ability to offer a varied product line built on a single operating system is a big plus.