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Network Appliance continues the "Global Data Fabric" initiative

Network Appliance continues the "Global Data Fabric" initiative

Network Appliance made several announcements that were significant for network storage. With their past several announcements, Network Appliance has focused on enterprise environments and this announcement continues that initiative. This initiative is labeled the "Global Data Fabric" for storage networks. The individual features announced were:

F880 and F880c Network Appliance filers

  • DataFabric Manager software update with additional capabilities
  • SnapManager for Microsoft Exchange 2000
  • NetCache 5.2
  • ContentDirector 2.0
  • ContentReporter 3.0
  • Announcement highlights

    The Network Appliance announcements contained several independent elements. The most significant announcement is of a new, high-end NAS filer, the F880 and the clustered version the F880c. Since these announcements are in different areas, each needs to be discussed separately.

    F880 and F880c Network Appliance filers

    Network Appliance has announced the next models in the F800 series of NAS filers, the F880 and the clustered version, the F880c. These are the highest performance NAS filers from Network Appliance to date. The F880 uses the same basic hardware as the F840 but has two Intel Pentium 866 MHz processors in a symmetric multi-processing configuration with 3GB of memory for each of the two-processor boards. Figure 1 is a comparison of the configurations for the F800 series of filers.

    Specification F820 F820c F840 F840c F880 F880c
    Appliance memory 1 GB 2 GB 3 GB 6 GB 3 GB 6 GB
    Non-Volatile RAM 118 MB 256 MB 128 MB 256 MB 128 MB 256 MB
    Expansion Adapter Slots 7 10 10 18 10 18
    Max. Network Adapters 4 8 6 12 6 12
    RAID Storage Capacity - - - - - -
    - Max. number of drives 112 112 168 168 168 168
    - Max. capacity 3 TB(raw) 6 TB(raw) 6 TB(raw) 12 TB(raw) 6 TB(raw) 12 TB(raw)
    - Min. RAID group size 1 data/ 1 parity 1 data/ 1 parity 1 data/ 1 parity 1 data/ 1 parity 1 data/ 1 parity 1 data/ 1 parity
    - Max. RAID group size 27 data/ 1 parity 27 data/ 1 parity 27 data/ 1 parity 27 data/ 1 parity 27 data/ 1 parity 27data/ 1 parity
    Cluster failover capability optional yes optional yes optional yes

    Figure 1: F800 Series

    The F880 main improvement is the increase in performance over the other models. The F880 achieves > 16,000 SpecFS operations per second and the F880c reaches > 28,000. With the announcement of the F880, Network Appliance now offers a three-year warranty. More detailed information on the F880 is available on the Evaluator Group website at for database subscribers.

    DataFabric Manager software Version 1.1

    DataFabric Manager was previously delivered by Network Appliance as server-based software to centrally monitor and remotely configure NAS and network caching appliances from Network Appliance. The software uses a Web-based GUI that is available for access across the network to provide a unified view of all filers and network caches (only from Network Appliance) in a network. This announcement is for a new level of the DataFabric Manager software that includes support for running the management console on Solaris 2.8. Previously, DataFabric Manager console ran on Windows NT/2000 only. Another new feature with version 1.1 is a finer level of granularity for capacity planning. Rather than viewing capacity only at the filer level, it can now be done to the filesystem level (also called volume level in their documentation). This finer granularity is also extended in the handling of user quota levels. The final update supplied for DataFabric Manager is the ability to track performance by filesystem (volume).

    Evaluator Group comments:

    Network Appliance is following through on their planned improvements for DataFabric Manager. This software product, which provides an aggregated view and management of NetApp-only NAS devices, should provide value to customers in reducing administrative costs.

    SnapManager for Exhange 2000

    Network Appliance already offered SnapManager for Exchange and with this announcement has released SnapManager for Exchange 2000. Exchange 2000 contains significant differences in implementation (especially in the way storage is handled), which necessitated a new version of SnapManager. Network Appliance has now supplied that snapshot functionality which gives backup and recovery management for Exchange 2000 environments that are using NetApp NAS devices.

    NetCache 5.2

    Network Caching has been a very popular function and Network Appliance has been supplying the NetCache product for some time. NetCache 5.2 represents a software update to the NetCache appliances. This updated software implements some new capabilities. The first is a feature called Global Request Manager, which handles content requests across multiple platforms. This feature is targeted at automatically distributing data to the correct platform without duplication. The software update also adds support for Kerberos authentication for Windows 2000 Active Directory services. The last feature in this update is integrated iCAP 1.0 support.

    ContentDirector 2.0

    ContentDirector 2.0 is a new version of software that does policy-based distribution of content. This software works on Windows NT/2000 servers and is used to distribute content to NetCache appliances. The features added with version 2.0 are the ability to do "push" multicast of content with file structure distribution. This product allows movement of large amounts of data to multiple locations. Another new feature is the incorporation of user domain tools for policy-based group access.

    ContentReporter 3.0

    This software tool from Network Appliance does reporting on NetCache appliances for performance and other statistical information. The new features include a browser-based user interface that can be invoked from different servers, the ability to distribute the functionality across multiple servers, and a new model collecting and retaining data (data warehouse).

    Evaluator Group comments:

    The Network Appliance announcements are a mixture of different items, some being new features added to software by new versions while others are entirely new products. We believe that the accelerating pace of delivery of new and improved capabilities and products are a very wise move by Network Appliance in trying to keep ahead of the competition. The spectrum of products is wider than any other vendor today and the software functionality (such as SnapManager, etc.) are the most mature implementations available. Network Appliance has long been the target of other vendors. They have demonstrated that they are a rapidly moving target.

    To view all Storage Evlauator analyses and commentaries, go to

    The Evaluator Series and Evaluator Series On-Line (ES/OL) are trademarks of Evaluator Group, Inc.

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