You are correct about EMC and NetApp. The EMC Celerra is a NAS front end (controller, gateway or head depending...
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on which vendor terminology you choose) for block storage on Clariion or Symmetrix. The Clariion or Symmetrix may be directly attached or be part of a SAN. NetApp uses captive storage for its devices. Both are excellent solutions. The larger NetApp boxes can scale up in capacity to 16TB. The Celerra can support 52TB currently. Other solutions that put the NAS gateway in front of a SAN are offered by IBM (TotalStorage NAS 300G), HP (StorageWorks E7000), Auspex and a few others. All will scale to large capacities.
The MS SAK is an excellent operating system that is offered by major vendors in a restricted fashion where the additional software and drivers, that may not be as robust, cannot be installed. It probably is as reliable or more so than many of the embedded systems (the sheer test and usage amount makes a major difference). Many of the mainline vendors incorporate the SAK into their products and have done so successfully. Think of them as just another choice in the NAS offerings and don't focus on the underlying operating system whether embedded or standard. Look at the entire product attributes and the guarantees by the vendor in making a selection.
Evaluator Group, Inc.
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