Network Appliance might want to prepare for a brawl.  Fujitsu’s strategic alliance
with OnStor, announced today, will allow the vendor to sell OnStor’s Bobcat NAS Gateway
with its own Eternus storage products.

Fujitsu and OnStor say the partnership will help wean customers from the pricey licensing
and lengthy contracts of market leaders NetApp and EMC
without sacrificing performance.

Cracking that market is no trivial feat, however. Analysts say the two market leaders have the midmarket and enterprise
NAS and iSCSI SAN space mostly locked
up.  An IDC
report from the first quarter 2008 reports that, in the NAS market, EMC
leads with 41.2 percent revenue share followed by Network Appliance with a 28.3
percent share. Net App continues to lead the iSCSI SAN
market with 19.6 percent market share, followed by EMC
with 17.4 percent, according to IDC.

But given VARs disdain for EMC and NetApp’s notoriously high licensing fees and restrictive, long term contracts, the space may be ripe for competition. 

One Maryland-based NetApp VAR,  who asked not to be identified, says both NetApp and EMC
products hit customers like an addiction — it ‘s simple to implement and
integrate entire solutions, but once they’re in  place, the software license
fees are exorbitant and it is difficult move customers off of the entrenched technology.

According to Dave
Egan, senior vice president of storage at Fujitsu, the OnStor agreement creates an alternative for customers and also stakes a serious claim for more North American marketshare
for Fujitsu independent of its existing global reseller agreement with NetApp. 

"This is a major strategic move for us to grow our
market share in North America.  As that grows, our NetApp relationship won’t
go away, but we won’t be marketing or relying on it as heavily," says Egan.

Egan says reselling the same products as NetApp in North
America was problematic, and created friction for both Fujitsu and
smaller NetApp channel partners.  With
the new agreement, Fujitsu becomes OnStor’s largest North American reseller, says Tom Gallivan, senior vice president of worldwide sales at OnStor.