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Network Appliance takes it up a notch

Network file serving and caching veteran, Network Appliance, Inc., (NetApp) unveiled its new system platform and Filers, which NetApp says is specifically designed to enable global storage networks and infrastructures.

Network Appliance said it developed this new system platform to address customer requirements for far larger and more robust storage network solutions. The platform is appealing for large global enterprises, content delivery networks (CDNs), Internet service providers (ISPs), application service providers (ASPs), and storage service providers (SSPs).

The F840c and F840 Filers, combined with the next generation of Network Appliance's operating system, Data Ontap 6.0, scale from tens of thousands of terabytes of capacity based on interoperable appliance building blocks offering customers significantly greater capacity than previous NetApp solutions. They are also the first products unveiled in Sunnyvale, Calif.-headquartered, NetApp's "end-to-end" data management and content delivery strategy.

"This is a high-end, enterprise system, but we've maintained the appliance feel to it," said Paul Hansen, senior director of product marketing, NetApp. "It's an order of magnitude increase in storage capacity and is a high-end extension to the enterprise. The F840 and the F840c really augment how our ability to move and centrally manage data." Hansen added that interoperability is the essence of the new solution.

"NetApp's original value proposition was to allow customers to consolidate multiple general purpose file servers onto fewer high speed filers. The explosion of on-line storage demands have made NetApp live up to their own original promise," said Steve Duplessie, senior analyst, Enterprise Storage Group, Milford, Mass. "Customers now have lots of smaller filers they need to consolidate." Duplessie said NetApp's new, high-end 8xx systems show that NetApp is keeping up with its customers requirements.

NetApp said that its individual products are building blocks, uniquely networked together, while the new system platform interoperates within existing IT infrastructures, and migrates to, and incorporates, emerging open storage network protocols and topologies such as NDMP and the recently announced Direct Access File System, or DAFS.

William Hurley, program manager for the Boston, Mass-based Yankee Group said that moving to the an Intel architecture has not impacted NetApp's ability to enhance its product line in terms of greater capacity and improved performance. But more importantly, the advent of these new products was a necessary move for NetApp, as it was in danger of losing market share to network attached storage (NAS) newcomers. "These product enhancements were necessary as, on one hand, Filer capacity was being stretched even with cluster and, on the other hand, new NAS entrants begin taking pieces of NetApp's market share. The f800 family is a necessary and timely response to birth of these threats," he said. "The introduction of these products means that the NAS market is beginning to segment into high and low end offers," Hurley added.

Data Ontap 6.0 Network Appliance's most advanced software for scalable storage capacity. Mixed environments support for NFS, CIFS and HTTP delivering heterogeneous file sharing. Ontap 6.0 touts data protection enhancements including a 50% increase in snapshot capabilities and more robust LAN/WAN mirroring for more efficient data replication and enhanced disaster recovery.

NetApp is labeling the new F840 system platform with Data Ontap 6.0 as being optimized for storage networking applications. The F840 Enterprise Filer features individual building block capacity to 6T Bytes, a throughput performance increase to more than 15,200 SFS ops/sec for $110,700. The F840c Clustered Enterprise Filer features individual building block capacity to12T Bytes, active/active clustering and integrated failover, and a list price starting at $318,900.

Paul Hansen said that NetApp's new platform and products are unique and provide a functioning, heterogeneous alternative to the storage area network (SAN) model. "SANs are a great model, but right now they're very hard to [implement]. Today it's very challenging. It's a wonderful topology, but it's been slowed beyond expectations." Hansen said that the new offering takes NetApp into the very high-end data center and a whole new competitive landscape. "This is a whole new business where we couldn't compete before. We eliminate those objections by taking our capacity up to 12T Bytes," he said.

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