May 31--MORRISVILLE -- NetApp Inc. opened the doors Thursday to a new, 155,000-square-foot research and development lab in the Research Triangle Park where employees can test new computer software and hardware.
The California-based data storage company marked the opening of the new lab at a grand opening celebration Friday. In addition to showcasing the new lab, the company also marked 15 years of operations in Research Triangle Park.
The new lab is the company's second behind another that opened nearby in the park in 2010. And although it's equipped like a data center, executives said on a tour on Friday that it will require more hands-on work by employees. The lab was built to allow engineers working from company offices around the globe to test new hardware and software.
"We have hundreds of engineers located in different development sites around the world that collaborate in creating our leading-edge software," said Rich Clifton, NetApp's executive vice president for customer success operations. He said engineers in locations like Bangalore, India, or in Wichita, Kansas, will use it for testing new products.
The company chose the park for the location of the lab because of the cost of land here, he said, and also because they have people here who can operate it.
In a tour on Friday, Jim Johnson, senior director of human resources for NetApp in the park, also said another reason was the cost of power. Duke Energy located a substation nearby, said Al Lawlis, senior director of engineering services for NetApp.
Lawlis pointed to where quality assurance and other testing will be done in the facility during the tour, to where the servers are located that help run the equipment, and also to equipment used to heat and cool the building.
Wes Farrow, an operations manager for NetApp in the Research Triangle Park, explained how upstairs windows are controlled by sensors to allow the windows to automatically open and close based on temperature changes.
The facility is expected to lead to about 150 new jobs, Clifton said.
In total, the company employs bout 1,600 in the Research Triangle Park, according to a company spokesman. Clifton said more than half of those employees work in service and support to help customers to fix and identify problems, while others work in software design.
The site was the second engineering location for the company outside of their first in the Silicon Valley, Clifton said. He said the location has a "very robust outlook" going forward.
In its fiscal fourth quarter, NetApp reported earnings growth, although it saw a year-over-year decline in revenue. Total revenues were down about 4 percent in the quarter to $1.6 billion, while its net income grew about 14 percent to $197 million.
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