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BlueArc challenges NetApp in the enterprise with Mercury 50, Mercury 100 network-attached storage (N

With NetApp distracted by Data Domain and late delivering Ontap with clustered NAS capabilities, BlueArc targets the enterprise NAS market with Mercury 50, Mercury 100 NAS systems.

BlueArc Corp.'s first product line expansion into the enterprise is taking the form of its first midrange network-attached storage (NAS) system, called Mercury.

The first Mercury model, the Mercury 50, will be rolled out this week with a Mercury 100 model to follow. The Mercury 50 will support up to two cluster nodes, a maximum storage capacity of a petabyte, a maximum file system size of 256 TB, 700 MBps throughput and 60,000 IOPS. The Mercury 100 will also have a maximum file system size of 256 TB (multiple file systems are integrated by a global namespace using BlueArc's software), but scale to 2 PB with support for up to eight cluster nodes, 1,100 MBps and 100,000 IOPS.

BlueArc's vice president of marketing Bridget Warwick, who recently joined BlueArc from NetApp, said that while the Mercury devices are smaller in scale and less field-configurable than the existing Titan high-performance computing (HPC) line, the same file system structure and software is common to both product lines.

The Titan can swap out front-end blades and adjust the compute-power to storage ratio, while Mercury nodes are fixed. The same field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) keep the file system in silicon in both Titan and Mercury, which accounts for the high performance numbers.

List price for a Mercury 50 starts at $45,000 without any storage. BlueArc will also roll out system-in-a-box bundles through channel partners, including a Mercury 50 server, an external RAID controller, disk drives, software and protocols. Street price for the entry-level bundle is expected to be approximately $70,000.

It's well known in the industry that unstructured data is outpacing structured data growth in the enterprise, and that scale-out NAS will be key to keeping up with scalability demands. With enterprise NAS giant NetApp distracted by its bidding war for Data Domain and late in its delivery of an Ontap operating system with clustering capabilities, vendors, including BlueArc, Isilon Systems Inc. and Nexenta Systems Inc. are looking to strike while enterprise scale-out NAS systems are hot.

Terri McClure, an analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), said BlueArc and Isilon might not be price-competitive with other software-based storage products based on commodity hardware also proliferating in the market.

But when it comes to getting into the enterprise market, McClure pointed out that BlueArc has an edge its competitors don't – a reseller relationship with Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), which will also resell Mercury. "Everybody in this market right now has the same problem – they're not well known in the data center," McClure said. "But HDS reselling it gives BlueArc an entrée into the enterprise."

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