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 SearchStorage.com 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.
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.
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Analyze that: Network Appliance
NetApp preps new entry-level iSCSI box