The NetApp Effect on Apple's ZFS Plans

Lora Bentley

The fact that Sun's Zettabyte File System (ZFS) is the subject of a patent infringement suit brought by NetApp may affect Apple's plans for Leopard, or Mac OS X 10.5.


Computerworld reports:

"If the court rules for NetApp, Sun's reputable partners would be the most hurt by the decision," said Andrew Reichman, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. "If Apple made a big investment in ZFS and decided that it's the future of their storage plans, they stand to lose quite a bit."

Uncertainty in the outcome could be even worse, the story says. Patent infringement cases can go on for years:

"And what's Apple supposed to do in the meantime?" asked Reichman.

Not surprisingly, Apple remained mum on the issue. NetApp, according to Computerworld, also declined to comment. blogger Matt Asay observes:

Apple, of course, would likely settle and buy a patent license, if it came to that. But it's an open question as to whether it will bother moving ahead with ZFS in the short term given the cloud over the code. This may be precisely what NetApp wants, but wouldn't NetApp be better off finding a way to support the open-source community through ZFS, assuming it has any rights to it (which I believe is highly suspect after talking with Sun)? Lawsuits are the 20th Century's answer to competition.


Open source is the 21st Century's.

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