We held an investor and analyst conference today in New York City. All in all, a very positive day, lots of momentum and enthusiasm for where we’re headed (and apprecation for the progress we’ve made – new product launches, and all).
In one of my first investor calls after the event, a large shareholder surprised me though, with, “why do you think NetApps is trying to kill off ZFS?” Er… what? I was totally stunned – it was the first I’d heard that Network Appliance was suing Sun.
My first response was that NetApps probably needs to read this post carefully – talking about the futility of litigation as a mechanism for proprietary companies to stifle the rise of open source competition.
Now having had a chance to read some of the statements their CEO made, here are some updates.
First, Sun did not approach NetApps about licensing any of Sun’s patents and never filed complaints against NetApps or demanded anything. ]
NetApps first approached StorageTek behind the cover of a third party intermediary (yes, it sounds weird, doesn’t it?) seeking to purchase STK patents. After Sun acquired STK, we were not willing to sell the patents, We’ve always been willing to license them. But instead of engaging in licensing discussions, NetApp decided to file a suit to invalidate them. To be clear, we never filed a complaint or threatened to do so, nor did anyone, to the best of my knowledge, in the ZFS community.
We’re all focused on innovation and winning customers, not litigation.
Second, a word on patents – we use our patent portfolio to protect communities, and indemnify customers – you need only look back to our settlement with Kodak when they attacked the Java community. (That case was heard in Rochester, New York, Kodak’s home town, which is a tad different than the East Texas venue Net App appears to have chosen.)
Finally, and perhaps most importantly (again, read here for why), I’d like to thank our friends at NetApps for ensuring every single customer in their installed base is aware of the outstanding economics offered by ZFS as a file system and storage virtualization platform. Please feel free to (learn more here) and get a free trial Thumper storage device here. At $1.50 per gigabyte – open source storage is about a third the price of competitive offerings, with better performance.
And Sun indemnifies its customers, so I’d encourage all interested parties to compare the economics of ZFS and Thumper to what you’re currently forced to pay – the savings are absolutely shocking.
The rise of the open source community cannot be stifled by proprietary vendors. I guess not everyone’s learned that lesson.