Network Appliance Fills In Product Line -

Network Appliance Fills In Product Line

Network Appliance is making a move to bolster its portfolio with the release of a handful of new storage products, including a low-end series of file servers to fill a gap in its product line and fresh software to dovetail with federal compliance regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based vendor's senior director of software, Suresh Vasudevan, told the FAS200 series of enterprise storage systems is unique in that it fills out Network Appliance's low-end line, but also has the ability to scale up to larger data center-like environments.

The FAS250 is designed for network-attached storage (NAS) and iSCSI-based storage area network (SAN) environments, while the FAS270/FAS270c (cluster) is designed for NAS, iSCSI, and/or Fibre Channel SAN environments. Vasudevan said the new FAS200 series complements the FAS900 high-end and FAS800 midrange file servers, but cautioned that the phrase "entry-level" is "not as accurate here because the systems have the ability to power remote sites and extend to departmental data centers."

Wrapped in a 3U form factor, the FAS200 series stores from a half terabyte to 48 terabytes without having to move data back and forth, whereas most low-end file servers tend to need a lot of data copying, according to Vasudevan. The new series of machines also unifies the storage capabilities of NAS and SAN devices.

Moreover, the FAS series now supports Windows, Solaris, HP-UX, IBM-AIX, and Linux operating systems for the SAN, opening up greater market opportunities for Network Appliance. Starting around $10,000, Vasudevan asserts the FAS200 series represents an attractive price point compared to offerings from such vendors as IBM and Hitachi Data Systems.

With regard to compliance, which has become a hot buzzword in IT in the wake of Enron and Worldcom rocking the business world with corporate accounting scandals and rampant data destruction, Network Appliance has tweaked its SnapLock Compliance software and issued a new edition of the product, SnapLock Enterprise. SnapLock Compliance ensures sure the criteria of U.S. regulations such as SEC Rule 17a-4, HIPAA, 21 CFR Part 11, and Sarbanes-Oxley are met. SnapLock Compliance is now available on both NetApp FAS servers and the NearStore platform.

SnapLock Enterprise is a new version of SnapLock software designed to protect important information that cannot be changed for a long period of time. It is designed for non-regulated data such as seismic surveys, automobile collision reports, or customer records that should not be changed, but that do not need to meet government guidelines. SnapLock Enterprise is available now for NetApp NearStore and FAS900 series systems, as well as for the FAS200 series systems.

Enterprise Storage Group Analyst Peter Gerr praises Network Appliance's decision to offer two types of compliance software at a time when more choices are extremely important to customers. He told that Network Appliance's approach to compliance with SnapLock is unique in that the company is offering the software as an add-on feature, as opposed to EMC's approach of offering compliance-oriented Centera as a standalone product.

"Dividing disk-based WORM [write once, read many] functionality into two distinct segments for regulated and non-regulated data is a smart move," says Gerr. "NetApp is really changing the face of WORM-based solutions, and this is a strong competitive answer to EMC's Centera. It's going to take NetApp a little while to close the gap between itself and EMC, but making SnapLock a feature across all products sends a good message and investment protection story for customers.

"To be successful," Gerr continues, "NetApp has to educate itself on challenges users are facing. To win against EMC, NetApp has to create a strong group of software partners to help raise awareness of the product."

Network Appliance has already stepped up to the plate in signing up fellow vendors in the compliance data space to raise the profile of the SnapLock software. NetApp SnapLock partners currently include CYA Technologies, Documentum, EDUCOM TS, Enigma Data Systems, KVS, Princeton Softech, IXOS, iLumin, AXS-One, and Legato. FileNet, FileTek, TOWER Technology, CommVault Systems, OpenText, LaserFiche Document Imaging, and Optik have all agreed to support the product as well.

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