NetApp Promotes SATA

A new series adds capacity and performance to leverage SATA for primary storage

May 25, 2005

3 Min Read
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New midrange NAS systems from Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) take aim at users' growing interest in using cheaper SATA disks for everyday applications instead of just backup and archiving (see NetApp Releases New Midrange Systems).

While NetApp has offered its NearStore appliances for SATA storage for a couple of years, it's equipping its new models with redundancy, clustering, and all the software options that go with its primary storage devices, including virtualization.

Prospects include companies wanting extra storage without going whole hog into Fibre Channel. NetApp suggests them for databases, small email configurations of up to 1,000 users, and similar applications.

NetApp's older NearStore line is recommended for so-called secondary storage, including disk backup and reference data. The FAS3000 can also be used for secondary storage, NetApp says.

Analysts seem to approve NetApp's tack. According to Brad Nisbet, program manager at IDC, NetApp is setting itself up to reap the benefits of increased use of what he terms "capacity-oriented" disks like ATA, SATA, and FATA, as well as "performance-oriented" Fibre Channel, SCSI, and SAS drives. "By 2008, we expect the capacity-oriented portion of total external disk storage systems to be about 61 percent of terabytes and 44 percent of revenue," he writes in an email.Replacing NetApp's existing midrange FAS920 and FAS940 systems, the new gear, including the FAS3000 and V3000 series, can be equipped with either SATA or Fibre Channel drives, or both.

The FAS3000 family stores up to 84 Tbytes on 336 drives, with up to 20 Fibre Channel or 24 Gigabit Ethernet ports. The V3000 series has the same basic characteristics, but works with NetApp's Ontap 7G software virtualization functions announced in March (see NetApp Makes Virtual Upgrade). These include support for third-party storage systems from Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW).

No, EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) is not on the new V3000 compatibility list. While NetApp claims the V-Series works with EMC's hardware (see NetApp Works With EMC), the vendor continues to blame EMC for refusing to pledge support for a combined product offering.

According to EMC spokesman Rick Lacroix, EMC is happy with its own interoperability, thank you very much. "EMC has not qualified the V-Series with its storage platforms primarily because there has been very little real customer demand to do so," he writes in an email. Ouch!

Clearly, this announcement is the latest volley in a fierce battle for midrange hearts among NetApp (with IBM in its ballpark, see IBM, NetApp Ink OEM Pact), EMC (with Dell), and HP. And so far, NetApp's holding its own, as its earnings results show (see NetApp Reports Earnings).On the downside, NetApp is still not ready with a global namespace function for Ontap, though the company says it's on track to deliver that in 2006. While other large players lack this feature, too, demand for smart NAS is building to the point where NetApp and its immediate rivals will likely lose some business to relative newcomers with global namespace and other features that are just as urgently needed as more capacity (see NAS Deals Fall Short).

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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