NetApp/Sun lawsuit seen as open-source test case
Puts open sourcing of ZFS code under microscope, analysts say
Computerworld - A patent infringement lawsuit filed by Network Appliance Inc. against Sun Microsystems Inc. on Wednesday could escalate beyond the storage arena to become this decade's major test case for open-source software, according to storage analysts.
Andrew Reichman, an analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., said NetApp's effort to stop Sun from developing or distributing the file system technology could catapult the sticky issue of open-source software ownership squarely onto the public stage.
"This will be a banner case to test the viability of open-source storage software, which Sun has been touting for some time," said Reichman. Sun, he added, is "too committed to the idea" of providing storage technology to users without charge via the open-source community -- a process that "the likes of NetApp and EMC are very hostile to." Those companies, Reichman said, fear that open-source storage technology would cut them off from significant sources of revenue.
"I think [the legal scuffle] will drag on for a long time and likely become the major test case for open-source software this decade," he said.
Reichman also noted that NetApp may have difficulty convincing a judge to force Sun to pay for using the patents, given what he called Sun's convoluted revenue stream from a system that provides users with some intellectual property without charge.
Mike Karp, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo., said that the issues being raised by NetApp over ZFS in many ways mirror the legal battle between Novell Inc. and The SCO Group Inc. over Unix ownership.
"This is not the sort of thing that is likely to be resolved overnight. My guess is that this is going to be a very expensive suit for both sides to prosecute," said Karp. "Neither side can afford to lose this thing."
Given what he calls a fragmented approach by Sun toward its StorageTek technology and reseller relationships, Reichman said he perceives ZFS as the company's "make or break" storage technology. Whether by design or not, NetApp's lawsuit will likely distract Sun's fledgling storage effort, he added.
"[Sun] already has significant challenges in productizing ZFS-based storage offerings and emerging as a force in storage, and [the lawsuit] will only compound that," Reichman said.
Read more about Data Storage in Computerworld's Data Storage Topic Center.
- Silicon Valley's 19 Coolest Places to Work
- Is Windows 8 Development Worth the Trouble?
- 8 Books Every IT Leader Should Read This Year
- 10 Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Data Warehouse Augmentation: The Queryable Data Store While organizations have, to date, been busy exploring and experimenting, they are now beginning to focus on using big data technologies to solve...
- Rebranded Quadmark revamps its IT solutions with Google Apps Switching to Google Apps halved Quadmark's IT admin costs while achieving 10% time savings per employee. The global consulting firm now spends 80%...
- CrashPlan PROe Security Because mobile laptops often are connected to unsecured networks, a very high standard of security is required to ensure privacy.
- Protecting Digitalized Assets in Healthcare Healthcare providers face an urgent, internal battle every day: security and compliance versus productivity and service. For most healthcare organizations, the fight is...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- Make or Break: New Auto Products Must Go To Market On Time This Webcast quantifies the value of time to market for the auto industry and highlights how Primavera Enterprise Portfolio Management can help organizations. All Data Storage White Papers | Webcasts