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NetApp adds a midrange box, tunes up software

NetApp adds the FAS3070 to its midrange lineup to compete with EMC's CX3-80 and updates a number of its software products.

Network Appliance Inc. (NetApp) took the wraps off a third box in its midrange FAS3000 series today, unveiled new software for managing disk backups and updated existing products, including SnapManager for Exchange, SnapManager for Oracle and Virtual File Manager (VFM).

The FAS3070 is the newest and largest of the FAS3000 line, which includes the FAS3020 and FAS3050. The latest edition scales to 502 Fibre Channel or SATA disk drives, or a mix of both for a total of 252 terabytes (TB), features 16 GB of cache memory and supports thirty-two 4 Gbps Fibre Channel ports or 32 Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) ports. NetApp's operating system, Data Ontap 7.2.1 or a later release is required for the FAS3070, which also runs Data Ontap GX. All three boxes support Fibre Channel, iSCSI and network attached storage (NAS).

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The FAS3070 starts at roughly $115,000 for a system with 1 TB of capacity and is available now. According to NetApp, its closest competitor is EMC Corp.'s CX3-80.

One user that evaluated both EMC and NetApp went for the FAS3000 line over EMC's Clariion arrays for ease of use and price. "NetApp was a more intuitive interface for our technical staff … the management software was easier to grasp," said George J. White, CIO, Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General. He said he also believes they were able to get "more for their money" with NetApp, although he was unable to give specifics.

The attorney general's office has 14 TB of storage split between an FAS3050 and FAS3020, the latter being the backup device for the former. The 3050 is Fibre Channel-attached and resides at a primary site, while the 3020 is iSCSI-attached and will soon be located at a remote location, with mirroring between the two. "Fibre Channel was important for the data center, but the backup device didn't require the same I/O throughput so we went for iSCSI," White said.

Microsoft Exchange is the biggest driver of growth at the attorney general's office -- the organization already has 100 users testing Exchange 2007 and plans to move all 1,000 employees in the near future. White is particularly interested in the FAS3070 for increased performance and capabilities around managing Exchange, but right now it is halfway through its fiscal year and won't get budgeted for an upgrade for several months. He noted that another driver of storage growth is NetApp's snapshot software. While it does a great job of backup, it "takes up a lot of storage," White noted.

Updates to SnapManager for Exchange

On the software side, NetApp introduced Protection Manager, a rudimentary tool for managing disk-based backups in a NetApp environment. "It provides information like the pace of mirroring … but down the road it will support more detailed backup reporting," said Rich Clifton, vice president and general manager of networked storage at NetApp.

The company also announced SnapManager for Exchange 4.0 with updated support for Microsoft Exchange 2007 and SnapManager for Oracle 2.0 that enables application and database administrators to back up and recover data in an Oracle environment. New features include online cloning of the production database and support for Solaris, SUSE Linux, HP-UX and AIX environments.

NetApp appears to be keeping up development of its global namespace file virtualization product, VFM, which it sells via an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) deal with NuView Inc., now owned by Brocade Communications Inc. VFM has been split into two versions, Enterprise Edition and Migration Edition. VFM Migration Edition is a new product but essentially a subset of Enterprise Edition that enables nondisruptive file migrations without the global namespace. "It allows us to move large or small amounts of data from one storage system to another, and professional services can use this as a tool to upgrade customers from other storage to ours," Clifton said.

And like everybody else, NetApp now has services wrapped around all its products. The latest in the list include Exchange, SQL and Oracle implementation services, and AutoSupport for proactive alerts.

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