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CCI ditches NetApp for OnStor gateways

CCI ran out of performance and capacity on its NetApp filers and turned to NAS gateways from OnStor to pool its back-end storage.

Community Connect Inc. (CCI), a developer of Web sites targeted at U.S. ethnic audiences, has installed two OnStor Inc. NAS gateways and a disk array from 3Par Data Inc., after struggling with the capacity limitations of its Network Appliance Inc. (NetApp) filers.

CCI's three sites include, and, catering to a total of 16 million-plus users. Across the three sites, CCI generates about 1.2 billion page views a month and with different activities occurring at different times on each site, the firm needs to be able to quickly provision storage to the appropriate site. CCI's user community also required more file storage for personal Web pages, documents and images.

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However, the company's four 700 series filers from NetApp, purchased about five years ago, recently reached their limit in both performance and capacity.

CCI considered adding NAS storage from NetApp and EMC Corp, but these options were thrown out in favor of OnStor's NAS gateway to avoid being locked into a particular vendor or being constrained by the capacity limitation of any given NAS filer configuration. The gateway setup also enabled CCI to combine its existing EMC Clariion CX 700 and a new disk array from 3Par in a single SAN-attached pool.

"With NetApp, it appeared essentially impossible to reallocate disk from one device to another, and we were limited in capacity and performance. With EMC's NAS, we would have been locked into a single vendor's disk," said Nicholas Tang, director of operations at CCI. He had no qualms about the reliability of NetApp's technology or the support he had received from the company, but "they were the least willing to negotiate on price," he added.

Using the OnStor gateway, CCI can reallocate capacity from one machine to another, and because the NAS and SAN share a disk pool, the firm can reclaim unused NAS disk for SAN -- or the reverse -- as needed. "Management tasks such as storage provisioning that used to take days can now be done in minutes, Tang claimed.

NAS gateways are an increasingly popular way to connect and manage storage arrays of different tiers and different vendors in the same pool. Other suppliers of this technology include BlueArc Inc., Hewlett Packard Co. and Maxxan Systems Inc.

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