Network Appliance Inc. [today] announced that it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Sun Microsystems Inc. seeking unspecified compensatory damages and an injunction that would prohibit Sun from developing or distributing products based on its ZFS file system technology.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Lufkin, Texas, charges that the Sun ZFS technology infringes on seven NetApp patents pertaining to data processing systems and related software.
Sun declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Maybe Sun's regular PR machine declined to comment, but you can be sure that Jonathan Schwartz has something to say about it. More on that later.
Storage analysts said that a drawn-out legal battle would likely hurt Sun more than NetApp because of the importance of ZFS to Sun's core storage strategy. In addition, analysts pointed out that the case could set legal precedent involving the viability of open-source storage.
Is this another Microsoft-backed FUD-fest like the whole SCO debacle? Maybe, maybe not.
In my opinion, NetApp is grasping at straws as they see their market disappearing. I'd take a SAN with a Solaris box, ZFS pools, and NFS over a NetApp any day of the week. It appears that Jonathan Schwartz shares the same opinion:
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.