NetApp Replicates Rivals

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Network Appliance has moved well beyond NAS boxes in recent years, making software its fastest-growing business segment, so it’s not surprising that the company continues to boost its data management strategy.

The company has rewritten the ReplicatorX replication software it acquired from Topio last year to work with storage arrays from any vendor, including EMC, IBM, HP and Hitachi Data Systems.

So while those vendors may offer replication software that works only with their own storage arrays, ReplicatorX doesn’t discriminate, opening up the potential for NetApp to sell the software into data centers hosting storage devices from several sources.

ReplicatorX runs as an agent on any operating system and also works with any protocol, including Fibre Channel SAN, iSCSI, direct-attached storage (DAS) or internal disk.

Jay Kidd, senior vice president and general manager in NetApp’s emerging products group, said the new dimensions in flexibility are geared to help customers avoid the vendor lock-in problem, where customers have to build exact replicas of primary servers on the recovery, or secondary, side.

“While NetApp may not be present in an account, we have an opportunity to penetrate by offering replication software which in many cases is better than what exists on the native storage array,” Kidd said. “We can copy from anybody’s primary to anybody’s secondary storage.”

Whenever a write goes from the application host to the primary storage, a copy of that write is sent across the wire to the secondary storage. The ReplicatorX appliance receives it and assures the writes from the secondary site are applied in exactly the same mode as they occurred on the primary site.

Moreover, ReplicatorX has almost no effect on application performance and can replicate data up to any distance.

Kidd said NetApp expects ReplicatorX to penetrate environments where NetApp has no hardware but the businesses want to improve their existing replication software from the likes of EMC or IBM. The company will also sell it with NetApp secondary storage by luring customers with the promises of snapshots, or point in time copies of the data.

Kidd also said NetApp has tailored ReplicatorX for disaster recovery (priced per terabyte), data migration (priced per week or month), business continuity service providers (priced per terabyte) and cloning for test and development (also priced per terabyte).

NetApp has also enhanced its SnapDrive, which automatically provisions storage to a server. The latest version of SnapDrive for Windows includes a new space reclaimer feature that enables customers to improve the way primary storage and secondary storage perform.

NetApp has enjoyed significant storage software growth so far in 2007, according to researcher IDC. In the first quarter of this year, the company posted software sales of $270 million, a better than 49 percent growth from Q1 2006 and good for a 10 percent share of the storage software market.

Also, NetApp boosted the Unix support for its Virtual File Manager Enterprise Edition (VFM-EE) and now can manage file data for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0 and Solaris 10.0.

Article courtesy of

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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