Fujitsu Fires Up File-Based Storage

Fujitsu fires a shot across the bows of NetApp by partnering with ONStor

May 15, 2008

3 Min Read
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Fujitsu is taking a swipe at rival NetApp by teaming up with clustered NAS specialist ONStor around file-based storage.

Under the terms of a deal announced this week, Fujitsu will resell ONStors Bobcat NAS Gateway on its Eternus systems. The vendors are touting the hardware as a midrange alternative to NetApp’s 3000 Series devices, which handle both block and file-level storage.

“Traditionally, the Eternus product was a block-level device and was not able to support CIFS and NFS-type file-based access,” says Tom Gallivan, ONStor’s senior vice president of global sales. “This broadens the total available market for the Eternus offering for customers looking for a combination of both technologies.”

Fujitsu admits that CIFS and NFS capabilities were a missing piece in its Eternus jigsaw, particularly at a time when users are looking for a combination of block and file-based storage.

“We see this as a requirement in almost every major request for proposal or procurement today,” says Dave Egan, Fujitsu’s senior vice president of storage. “I don’t think we have seen [an RFP] in the last year that didn’t have a requirement for both.”At least one analyst agrees that the block and file storage combo is fast becoming a "must-have" for CIOs and IT managers.

“When you talk to users, one of the most common complaints is that all these different tiers of storage are coming from a different provider,” says George Crump, lead analyst at Storage Switzerland. “That adds a level of management complexity that people don’t have the luxury to deal with, especially in today’s economy.”

The Bobcat NAS Gateway is a one-rack unit high device which fits into the enclosure housing the Eternus array, according to Fujitsu. The vendor is touting the technology as low-cost alternative to NetApp.

Fujitsu will price its Eternus/ONSTor hardware bundle at 20 to 40 percent less than NetApp’s offerings, according to Egan. Pricing for an entry level, 20-Tbyte Eternus system with a Bobcat NAS Gateway starts at $125,000, he says.

It remains to be seen whether Fujitsu’s attempts to wield price as a cudgel will be enough to win share from NetApp, which has traditionally dominated the file-based storage market.“NetApp has been doing this forever, and they have great products,” says Storage Switzerland’s Crump. “I think that price is third on the list [for users], after product capabilities and [vendor] stability.”

The analyst nonetheless thinks that Fujitsu and ONStor, which recently grabbed $25 million in funding, can mount a challenge with their block and file-based combo. “NetApp has always been known for great CIFS support, but ONStor, according to our testing, is at least as good.”

Fujitsu says that “several” users are currently testing the Eternus/Bobcat offering, which is available now, although the vendor was unable to offer up any users that could discuss their experiences.

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  • Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY)

  • NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • ONStor Inc.

  • Storage Switzerland

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