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NetApp fills out product line with new hardware, SAN support

NetApp may be known for NAS, but the company is getting into the Fibre Channel, iSCSI and compliance worlds with new hardware systems, software and OS support.

Network Appliance Inc., is knocking on the door of small and medium-sized business with a new line of entry-level storage systems, operating system support for storage area networks (SANs) and software for meeting data retention needs.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, known primarily for its network-attached storage (NAS) products, filled out its line of enterprise storage systems with the debut of the FAS200 series, which carries a starting price of $10,000.

The new FAS250 and FAS270 systems, which first reported on last May, are unified SAN/NAS storage appliances for the entry-level market. The FAS250 is designed for NAS or iSCSI SAN environments while the FAS270 offers NAS, iSCSI and Fibre Channel SAN support.

On the SAN front, NetApp's F825c, FAS270C, FAS940C, or FAS960C storage appliances coupled with a Brocade Silkworm Fibre Channel switch now support HP-UX, IBM AIX, Red Hat or SuSE Linux, Microsoft Windows, and Sun Solaris server environments. NetApp said users can also use Cisco MDS or McData switches with the NetApp Fibre Channel SANs.

Evaluator Group analyst Randy Kerns said eventually NetApp will probably reduce the number of models it carries and retire the F800 line in favor of the FAS900. "This has been the history when new generations are announced. The FAS250 will replace the F87 and probably get additional models with incremental differences."

"Network Appliance has certainly moved towards targeting the enterprise data center as well as offering entry level products. Covering the spectrum is a great strategy. Moving towards the more demanding high end is good for them because of the higher margin it commands," Kerns said.

 The bits and bytes of NetApp's new systems

The FAS250 is designed for NAS and/or iSCSI SAN environments with support for iSCSI, CIFS, NFS, and HTTP protocols. Within the FAS250, the system supports up to 1TB via 36, 72, or 144GB Fibre Channel drives.

The FAS270 is designed for NAS, Fibre Channel or iSCSI SAN environments. It offers up to 4TB capacity, higher performance than the FAS250, as well as optional high availability clustering in a single box.

The FAS200 series utilizes Broadcom's SB1250 MIPS processor, which features dual 650MHz cores and comes with two onboard 10/100/1000 copper NICs, a copper Fibre Channel tape port, and a serial port. The MIPS architecture and low power dissipation enable NetApp to create a "shrunken head" FAS system that fits into a very small package requiring no additional power or cooling beyond what is used by the disk shelf unit. The systems come in a small 3U form factor in either a rack or tower configuration.

The FAS200 series can support up to 48TB of storage via a simple head or controller swap. The FAS200 family can be rapidly upgraded in place without a fork lift upgrade or data migration, providing complete investment protection.

NetApp SAN solutions consist of F825c, FAS270C, FAS940C, or FAS960C storage appliances; a Brocade Silkworm Fibre Channel switch; the requisite host bus adapters (HBAs) and OS drivers; and NetApp service and support. Customers may also use Cisco MDS or McData switches with the NetApp Fibre Channel SAN solutions. These solutions have all been certified by Network Appliance and are designed to work seamlessly in any HP-UX, AIX, Linux, or Solaris and Windows environment.

Today's newly announced solutions for HP-UX, IBM AIX, and Linux are available immediately from Network Appliance.

New software for WORM-like storage

NetApp has extended its reach into the burgeoning data retention market with a new version of its SnapLock software dubbed SnapLock Enterprise. The catch is that it's for users who aren't required by the government to store data as non-erasable or non-rewritable. The aim here is for users who want to store data in this fashion regardless.

NetApp's SnapLock Compliance software along with its NearStore hardware systems makes up NetApp's disk-based WORM (write once, read many) solution in regulated data applications.

SnapLock is NetApp's approach to deploying WORM-like magnetic storage into user's environments for compliance and regulation-related purposes, according to Peter Gerr, a research analyst with the Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass.

"By implementing SnapLock as an available feature across its entire product line, implemented through a simple software license upgrade, NetApp is offering its customers a flexible way to deploy WORM functionality into existing environments across different tiers of storage," Gerr said.

He said SnapLock is NetApp's competitive response to EMC's Centera product line.

"NetApp's biggest challenge is to close the gap EMC has created by being first-to-market and to give application partners and other [software vendors] an alternative to partnering with EMC," Gerr said.

"Creating a community of ISVs and application vendors that will help NetApp market and sell SnapLock as a solution and not just more technology is paramount to NetApp's success or failure in these markets."

NetApp has already lined up a number of third-party software vendors to write applications to SnapLock. The company said CYA Technologies, Documentum, Educom TS Inc., Enigma Data Systems, KVS, Princeton Softech, IXOS, iLumin, AXS-One and Legato Systems are all shipping applications that support SnapLock. While software from FileNet, FileTek, Tower Technology, CommVault Systems, OpenText, LaserFiche Document Imaging and Optika is on the way.

NetApp said its partners' certified applications let users "safely" comply with existing and new regulations requiring the retention and management of e-mail, documents, database data and other corporate records. Such regulations include SEC Rule 17a-4 for securities broker/dealers, HIPAA for healthcare companies, Sarbanes-Oxley for all public companies and 21 CFR Part 11 for pharmaceutical companies.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail: Kevin Komiega, News Editor

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