NetApp Adds Primary Storage De-Duplication

Vendor extends de-dupe from secondary to primary storage and intros virtualization enhancements

February 12, 2008

3 Min Read
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NetApp is bulking up its virtualization capabilities and extending its de-duplication features into primary storage.

The announcement follows talk by NetApp about its de-dupe efforts, which up to now have been focused on secondary storage, such as the vendor's R200 and FAS product lines.

Cue version 7.3 of NetApp's OnTap 7G software. "We're now providing de-duplication of common data across our primary storage family and our V-Series," says Patrick Rogers, the vendor's VP of solutions marketing. He adds that de-duplication will slash users' storage footprints. "It's going to lead to less real storage required, smaller footprints, and less power and cooling."

How much less? According to Rogers, de-duplication could halve data center environmental costs.

NetApp, of course, is facing stiff competition in the de-dupe space, which likely played a part in its decision to expand its offerings. Yesterday, for instance, HDS unveiled VTLs containing software from de-dupe trailblazer Diligent targeting the SMB space.Unlike Diligent and Data Domain, which use an "inline" approach to de-dupe, NetApp, like Sepaton, uses "post-processing," where data is de-duped after it is written to a target disk.

Quantum's DXi3500 and DXi5500 appliances use an inline” approach, while the vendor's DXi7500 system uses a ‘policy-based’ de-dupe approach where users have a choice of using either “inline” or “post-processing” based on their backup requirements.

Arguments about these and other de-dupe approaches are prevalent, thanks to lots of competitive market activity. Indeed, the de-dupe space was recently characterized as a "land-grab" by newly public Data Domain, which sees both NetApp and Quantum as key rivals.

Nonetheless, IDC analyst Laura DuBois says NetApp is the first vendor she has heard of to offer de-dupe on primary storage. And though de-dupe has mainly been used for backup data up to now, the analyst feels that there is one area where NetApp's approach might fit. "Exchange runs on primary storage, so that would be an optimal application for de-duplication," she says.

NetApp has not yet revealed pricing for OnTap 7G 7.3, nor any early adopters for the technology, although Patrick Rogers confirmed that the software will be available in the spring.Continuing its virtualization push, NetApp also announced other products today, including the following:

  • SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure, which lets users take snapshots of VMware virtual machines. "It's fully integrated with VMware and it allows you to use NetApp snapshot and restore capabilities in a VMware environment," says Rogers. "[Before] there wasn't a simple, non-disruptive way to snapshot a VM."

  • SnapManager products compatible with VMware. These include the Exchange, SQL, SharePoint, and Oracle versions of the SnapManager software.

  • Provisioning Manager storage management software. "This automates the process for provisioning new data sets," says Rogers. "It will reduce the probability of the admin making a mistake."

Like OnTap 7G 7.3, the SnapManager products and Provisioning Manager will be made available this spring, and pricing has not been released.

It is not just in software where NetApp is attempting to make its presence felt. In a separate announcement today, NetApp's partner IBM unveiled the first versions of its high-end N7000 NAS devices, which are both OEM'd from NetApp. The N7700 and N7900, rebranded versions of NetApp's recently launched FAS 6040 and FAS 6080 devices, support up to 840 Tbytes and 1.2 Pbytes of data.

The two devices, which are aimed at large enterprise users looking to consolidate their file-based data, will be available in mid-April. Pricing for the hardware starts at $125,000.

NetApp has timed its announcements propitiously. Analysts have already warned that NetApp is particularly vulnerable to a slowdown in IT spending."Demand from a select number of NetApp's larger enterprise customers remains soft," warned Goldman Sachs analyst Min Park in a note yesterday. But: "Our checks suggest that NetApp saw healthy demand through the quarter overall, with international markets continuing to hold up as an area of strength."

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  • Data Domain Inc. (Nasdaq: DDUP)

  • Diligent Technologies Corp.

  • Goldman Sachs & Co.

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • IDC

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Sepaton Inc.

  • VMware Inc.

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