NetApp Gets SASy

Vendor takes the wraps off its first SAS-based offerings

September 11, 2007

3 Min Read
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NetApp became the latest vendor to woo the SMB crowd today, adding serial attached SCSI (SAS) technology and a set of new services to its FAS product line. (See NetApp Unveils Product Line, HP Thinks Small, and EMC Takes CDP Downmarket .)

The FAS2020 and FAS2050 are the vendor's first products to offer SAS, which is perceived as a lower-cost alternative to Fibre Channel-based drives. (See SNW: First Take, Emulex Locks Onto SAS, Trade Group Touts SAS Domination, EVault Gets SAS 70 Type II Cert, and Infortrend Intros New Arrays.) Tom Georgens, NetApp's executive vice president of product operations, describes the hardware as an "important technology hurdle" for NetApp, alluding to the growing popularity of SAS.

It has been clear for some time now that SAS is taking off. (See SAS Wave Breaks Big.) Both analyst firm Gartner and the SCSI Trade Association, for example, recently predicted that SAS will become the "dominant HDD interface" this year. (See Trade Group Touts SAS Domination.)

The 24.6-Tbyte FAS2020 contains up to 12 internal SAS drives, although an additional 28 Fibre Channel or SATA drives can also be connected externally to the system. The 69-Tbyte FAS2050 contains up to 20 internal SAS drives, although a further 84 external Fibre Channel and SATA drives can be hooked up.

NetApp is touting the two-rack-unit-high FAS2020 and the four-rack-unit-high FAS2050 as replacements for its existing low-end boxes, the 4.2-Tbyte FAS250 and the 16-Tbyte FAS270. (See NetApp Gets Simple SAN and NetApp Serves Up Petco.) "The 250 and the 270 will stay in the portfolio for a while -- we're not announcing end-of-life on these," says Georgens. "But we do expect customers to move to the 2020 and 2050."Pricing for entry-level, 1.75-Tbyte configurations of the FAS2020 and FAS2050 starts, respectively, at $12,000 and $24,920. Both devices are available now and will also be sold by NetApp's OEM partner IBM as the N3000 series.

NetApp is putting the 2020 and 2050 up against a number of offerings from rival vendors, including HP's MSA1500cs and low-end EVA, and EMC's Clariion CX-3 offerings.

One user who has already deployed the NetApp boxes is Dave DePillis, IT operations manager at financial services firm Allied Cash Holdings, which has deployed FAS2020 devices at its Miami data center and its disaster recovery site in Orlando, Fla.

The exec tells Byte and Switch that he looked at offerings from Dell, EMC, and EqualLogic before opting for the two FAS2020s. "NetApp shares the data across all of the spindles, whereas with some of the other vendors you were limited to the number of spindles that you could use," he says. "I didnt want to lose any kind of performance."

NetApp's Ontap operating system was another selling point for DePillis. (See NetApp's GX Targets HPC, NetApp Reports Q1, Nudges Forward, and NetApp's Virtualization Boss Speaks Up.) "I liked the fact that the Ontap software is the same from the [entry-level NetApp] StorVault to the highest level" of storage hardware, he explains. "If we wanted to upgrade, there wouldn't be a 'knowledge transfer' of all the back-end storage admin software."Analyst Russell Fellows of the Evaluator Group tells Byte and Switch that, although more and more users are looking for SAS technology, NetApp will nonetheless have its work cut out carving a niche amongst SMBs. "The biggest challenge is that the low-end enterprises are not necessarily accounts where [NetApp] has a lot of penetration right now," he says, although he expects that the IBM partnership should open some doors.

In an attempt to lure more SMBs onto its technology, NetApp also unveiled two services targeted at smaller firms today. The Rapid Deployment Service aims to quickly set up and configure the FAS2020 and 2050 devices, while the Storage Availability Audit Service provides a periodic audit of SMBs' storage infrastructures.

  • Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Evaluator Group

  • Gartner Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • SCSI Trade Association

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