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Snap users get a boost

A new NAS server from Snap, now owned by Adaptec, will give EMC and HP a run for their money in the mid-range market

Snap Appliance, a division of Adaptec Inc., announced Monday a mid-range NAS server and enhancements to its software that it hopes will lift the company out of the low-end market and into more lucrative deals.

Snap, acquired by Adaptec earlier this month, has over 150,000 NAS boxes installed worldwide and is ranked No.1 for NAS shipments by Gartner Inc. However, these shipments are mainly of low-end devices that generate very little margin for the company.

Snap's new Snap Server 18,000, which analysts say is a decent improvement over the older 15,000 model, should help it get there. The product will ship in North America in late August, followed by Europe in September. "They have the volume business, but they need to get into bigger deals that generate more profit," said Mike Carp, senior analyst with research firm Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo.. "That means adding more functionality, and this box has a good deal more features for the price."

The Snap Server 18,000 offers from 2 TB to 30 TB of Serial-ATA disk and scales up via the Snap Disk 30 dynamic expansion array in increments of 4 TB. It's the company's first dual-processor box and uses RAID 5. All the appropriate parts are hot-swappable, including the disk drives, the cabling and the network components. It offers iSCSI support for simultaneous block and file data, and Snap has added additional iSCSI initiator support for Red Hat Linux and Sun Solaris. The previous version only supported Microsoft. It starts at $14,995 for 2 TB, but users wishing to expand beyond 2 TB will need to buy a FC HBA, which still costs around $1,000. "It's still enterprise storage for less than $5 per GB," a spokesman for Snap said.

The company claims the 18,000 offers double the file-serving performance of the Snap Server 4500, providing 550 Mbps (70 MBps), according to NetBench results. And about 880 Mbps (110MBps) of sustained throughput for iSCSI storage or 67,000 I/Os per second (IOPS). It's comparable to Fibre Channel speeds at a fraction of the cost and without the complexity, Snap officials said.

On the software side, Snap is now offering full Network Data Managment Protocol support and a 45-day free trial of a new feature called SVS v.2, which is server-to-server asynchronous block-level replication software for near-line backup. "It's a great alternative to tape, and still low-cost," said a Snap spokesman. The pricing of this feature was unavailable at press time.

The 18,000 will compete with EMC Corp.'s NetWin 200, when it ships later in the year, and Hewlett Packard Co.'s StorageWorks NAS 2000. Analysts said they believe Snap's offering will be a big challenge to these high-end players that are trying to move down market. "They already have the distribution channels set up to reach the small- and medium-enterprise market," said John Webster, founder and analyst with the Data Mobility Group.

However, he said "Linux-based NAS and Microsoft white-box minions" will give Snap a run for its money. "This market is all about pricing and product availability. The only way to fight it out is to get the price as low as possible with the greatest number of features," Webster said.

Eventually, Adaptec wants to offer the full range of SAN, NAS and DAS arrays under a common management framework. "We haven't even sat down at the table to work this out yet, but it's on the roadmap," the Snap spokesman said.

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