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NetApp announcements significant to network storage

NetApp announcements significant to network storage

Network Appliance recently made several announcements that were significant for network storage. Network Appliance organized the announcements into specific areas with some containing several elements. Some represented new functionality or products while others were enhancements to existing capabilities. The announcement areas and the specific elements were:

1. Enterprise business continuance solutions

  • NearStore R100 system - new NAS storage product
  • SnapMirror enhancements
  • SnapVault software
  • SnapRestore enhancements

2. Storage management solutions

  • DataFabric Manager enhancements
  • ApplianceWatch enhancements
  • MultiStore software

3. Data migration professional services

A brief review follows with more information in the ES/OL subscription database.

NearStore R100 system

Network Appliance has announced the R100, the first of the NearStore appliances that were pre-announced in December of 2001. The NearStore appliances are targeted at low-performance requirements where cost is a major issue. The initial usage highlighted by Network Appliance is an economical two-stage backup device where data is moved to the R100 as a low-cost, quick restore (fast recovery) device. Subsequent to that, data can be copied from the R100 to tape as needed by business requirements. Data can be moved to the R100 from any storage systems that use a file representation of data. A long list of partners has certified their software will operate with NearStore (obviously, the major backup programs are included).

Evaluator Group comments:

The NearStore products represent yet another level in the storage hierarchy where the cost and performance characteristics are substantially different than the F800 series of NAS devices. We believe that Network Appliance has positioned the product correctly as a bulk storage device with a great opportunity as a dual stage backup device. More information on the R100 will be available on the Evaluator Group Web site soon.

SnapMirror enhancements

This optional software that runs on appliances, for making mirror copies of data to one or more filers, has been enhanced to provide a finer granularity of mirroring. The new granularity allows use of the Quota Tree mechanism for choosing data to be mirrored. The Quota Tree is a logical control of data based on userid and groupid information that is set up by an administrator. With the new version of SnapMirror, in addition to all the previous functionality such as checkpointing, incremental updates and resynchronization, subsets of volumes (file systems in this case) can be mirrored which reduces bandwidth and storage space requirements over entire volume mirroring.

SnapVault software

SnapVault software installed on Network Appliance filers allows automated, periodic backup of filers to the NearStore system (although targeted at the NearStore, SnapVault could operate on other Network Appliance filers as well). There is a software component required on the client filers and another component required on the server filers. The data that is "vaulted" to the NearStore may come from multiple filers and is stored as a single repository. The vaulted data is stored in a read only mode so users can do recovery of individual files and administrators can restore file systems and Quota Trees to greatly speed recovery. The data is also available to be backed up to tape using the popular backup software including NDMP compliance.

Evaluator Group comments:

The new SnapVault software function operates like a one-way mirror for data. Data is copied to the target Network Appliance device (NearStore in this case) and the mirror is split. When the automated backup is next initiated, changed data is transferred to update the mirror. This software should provide a more integrated option for the first part of two-stage backup rather than using popular backup software. This will be very effective in Network Appliance environments but will not interoperate with other NAS devices.

SnapRestore enhancements

The optional SnapRestore software product, which allows restore of previous "snapped" data has been enhanced to provide instant restore of a file. Previously, a file had to be copied from the snapped location to a new location or as part of a complete instant restore of a volume. The enhancement provides the advantage of instantly recovering the file without the intervening steps.

DataFabric Manager enhancements

DataFabric Manager has been enhanced to add support for including in the management aggregation of both NetCache devices and the new NearStore products. Access security has also been improved to provide a grouping of appliances for management, which gives a finer granularity of management. DataFabric Manager operates on Windows NT/2000 and Sun Solaris 2.8 currently.

ApplianceWatch enhancements

ApplianceWatch is optional software to monitor the NetApp appliances through top-level frameworks. The enhancement to ApplianceWatch is the certification to operate with the latest versions of Tivoli Enterprise management framework (version 3.7.1) and HP OpenView (Network Node Manager version 6.2). The cost for ApplianceWatch is $5,000 per managed node for Tivoli, $495 for HP OpenView for Windows NT and $995 for HP OpenView for UNIX.

MultiStore software

MultiStore is a new optional software solution to address security while consolidating data within a Network Appliance filer. With MultiStore, existing NT and UNIX domains can be consolidated onto the same NetApp filer but still be logically partitioned providing a security boundary between the domains. The MultiStore software essentially creates multiple logical images of NetApp filers called vfilers. These vfilers are actually virtual partitions of a single filer and support domains of storage access. The virtual partitions are setup on a volume (filesystem) or Qtree basis. This means that and individual filesystem or Qtree would be an independent vfiler. Shares that would normally be handled between independent storage domains are still enabled for the domains on the filer. Up to 10 NT, UNIX, or shared domains may be configured on each filer (with a maximum of 20 on the clustered models). The main targets of this software are xSPs that want to consolidate different clients onto a single NetApp filer but still provide the isolation for security purposes that individual NAS devices provided prior to consolidation. An option that may be configured is to specify allegiance for a NIC to a specific vfiler.

Currently, MultiStore is managed by a command line interface. DataFabric Management does not currently support the vfiler images and will only manage a single filer image. Network Appliance will add MultiStore support to DataFabric Manager in the future.

Evaluator Group comments:

MultiStore will provide cost advantages for companies that are consolidating data that have requirements for security isolation. It will be cheaper to have a larger, centrally managed NAS box and than multiple, individually administered products. Unfortunately, Network Appliance is choosing to use the word virtualization to describe this solution, which is unfortunate because it is not in the same context that is most associated with storage virtualization today.

Data migration professional services

Network Appliance has established a professional service to migrate data from direct attached storage to Network Appliance filers. The data migration professional services are part of the growing professional services offerings from Network Appliance.

Evaluator Group comments:

This offering will be valuable for some customers (especially the larger ones) and really demonstrates that Network Appliance is moving toward a complete solution provider, which includes services.

The Network Appliance announcements continue the value add functionality and product advancement that they have committed to their customers. A company that is established and a leader is expected to "push the ball forward" with functionality, products, and services. Network Appliance continues to do that and warrants the leadership position that it holds. While there are many facets to this announcement, they all represent some incremental value that customers can capitalize on deployment.

To view all Storage Evaluator analyses and commentaries, go to Storage Evaluator Tips ===========================================================

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