Sun Microsystems is the main supplier of NFS file servers. Sun sells over 2/3 of all NFS file servers. Our initial product will be positioned to cost significantly less than Sun's lower-end server, with performance comparable to their high-end servers.
It is unlikely that Sun will be able to produce a server that performs as well, or costs as little, for several reasons:
- Sun's server hardware is inherently more expensive because it has lower production volumes than our components [...]
- The culture among software engineers at Sun places little value on performance.
- The structure of Sun -- with SunSoft doing NFS and UNIX, and SMCC [Sun Microsystems Computer Corporation] doing hardware -- makes it difficult for Sun to produce products that provide creative software-hardware system solutions.
- Sun's distribution costs will likely remain high due to the level of technical support required to install and manage a Sun server.
NetApp's success with their original business plan and our nascent success with Fishworks point to the most important lesson that the history of technology has to teach: economics always wins -- a product or a technology or a company ultimately cannot prop up unsustainable economics. Perhaps unlike Hitz, however, I had to learn that lesson the hard way: in the post-bubble meltdown that brought Sun within an inch of its life. But then again, perhaps Hitz has yet to have his final lesson on the subject...