As we say here in ranch country.

Sun sent out a press release on the NetApp fracas today. I didn’t have time to parse it, so here’s the raw intelligence:

Sun was legally obligated to respond in Texas to the initial suit brought on September 5, 2007 by Network Appliance to forestall competition from the free ZFS technology. Today we filed additional counterclaims in California, and specifically under the Lanham Act and California Business and Professions Code, based on Network Appliance’s false statements to the public about the alleged use of Network Appliance patents in ZFS. In parallel, we will be bringing a motion before the court in California asking that the case filed in Texas be consolidated with the case filed today for trial in the Bay Area, headquarters to both Sun and Network Appliance. Today’s filing includes counterclaims against the entirety of Network Appliance’s product line, including the entire NetApp Enterprise Fabric Attached Storage (FAS) products, V-series products using Data ONTAP software, and NearStore products, seeking both injunction and monetary damages.

Since Sun was forced to litigate, we feel California is a more appropriate venue to do so for several reasons. First, Sun and Network Appliance are both headquartered in Northern California, within 10 miles of each other. Second, most discovery will take place in California, as many of the key inventors on the patents and primary counsel for both parties are based in California. From both a judicial and economic standpoint, it makes much more sense for the case to be in California.

For more information about Sun’s counterclaims, visit our General Counsel’s latest blog posting: http://blogs.sun.com/dillon/entry/the_netapp_litigation_continued. You can view today’s filing on Sun’s website at www.sun.com/news, and you can check out our Open Source Community Support page at www.sun.com/lawsuit/zfs.

The StorageMojo take
Sun is pulling every string they can to win this in the court of public opinion. At least the public that buys storage.

What some commentators miss is that Sun only has to persuade a small percentage of NetApp buyers to reject or stall purchases to have a massive impact on NetApp’s share price. Here’s why.

Most tech companies – and I’ll assume this is true of NetApp – have back loaded quarters. A high percentage of the sales don’t come in until the last week of the quarter. By then, of course, all the expenses are fixed: components ordered; inventory built; 3 martini lunches expensed.

This means that the last few percent of sales make the quarter profitable – or not. If 90% of NetApp customers love them and continue to buy, but 10% decide they hate them and don’t buy, NetApp has a bad quarter.

Even a NetApp customer who loves them and hates Sun won’t increase their purchases to offset the lost sales. Why would they? The same kit will be cheaper next quarter, especially if the market stays soft.

Will Sun’s gambit work? Stay tuned.

Comments welcome, of course. Marketing is a contact sport.

Update: Since this suit is about ZFS, some of you may be interested in this article A look at MySQL on ZFS that compares the performance and management of MySQL on UFS and ZFS.