I received a few calls over the weekend about takeover rumors regarding NetApp. People want my opinion as to what I think will happen. I have no special information nor do I see any particular strong synergies between any of the companies said to be interested in a purchase and NetApp. The IBM / Sun merger talks seem to be hitting some snags, but that could be last minute bargaining. Since IBM is a NetApp distributor, I think there will be some fireworks if the merger goes through, since IBM is a big part of NetApp’s sales and Sun and NetApp are tied up in legal wrangling. If there is a purchase, it might be a reaction to an IBM / SUN merger, more than a long term strategic match up.
The history of NetApp’s own acquisition strategy seems questionable – but maybe there was some hidden value in the Spinnaker, Topio, and Decru purchases that are not visible from my vantage point. It might be that NetApp is a niche player, and does not fit well into the jigsaw puzzles of larger companies.
NetApp’s enterprise storage products remain reliable, and a lot of our support customers are looking to maintain them for a long time. The enterprise storage customer is always looking for balance in long term value, scalability, and reliability, and as long as NetApp focuses on these attributes they should remain a viable niche storage company.