NetApp Aims High

Enterprise Storage Forum content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

For years, Network Appliance has been a major player in network-attached storage (NAS) and iSCSI, content to let other competitors soak up storage area network (SAN) market share.

Those days are over.

Network Appliance CEO Dan Warmenhoven said his company is going after EMC, HP and Hitachi Data Systems with guns blazing, unveiling the FAS6000 line of storage systems, code-named Excelsior.

Created for the upper echelon of the market, the FAS6030 and the FAS6070 are designed to change perceptions, giving customers the ability to run hundreds of NAS, SAN and iSCSI applications on the same array.

This allows customers to take different classes, or tiers, of storage, from important and regularly-accessed files to low-priority, seldom-accessed files, and put them on the same machine to cut down on the number of boxes administrators need to purchase.

The machines come at a time when stringent record retention rules are forcing customers to turn to reliable storage systems that guarantee little or no data loss. They also come at time when admins face constant pressure to do more with fewer resources.

Tailored for enterprises that run large Oracle, SAP and Microsoft enterprise applications, the machines are the highest-end NetApp systems to date, and add a new level of performance and scalability to the FAS storage line, Warmenhoven said.

They are designed to mix it up in the market with EMC’s Symmetrix DMX-3 and HDS’s TagmaStorage Universal Storage Platforms.

“This is the first time that we’ve had a system that has been comparable in capacity and performance to the large frames that are in the market today from both Hitachi and EMC,” Warmenhoven said in an interview last week.

“We’ve had great success in mission-critical apps, tier one applications, etc., but in very large enterprises, they still look at our systems as being somewhat under-sized.”

The machines also boast a modular storage design, allowing customers to add more storage as needed and protect their investments. Customers with existing NetApp FAS models can swap old array heads with new ones to upgrade their capacity and performance.

NetApp’s new FlexShare software, a new feature of the company’s Data ONTAP 7G operating system, makes sure that critical workloads get served when the storage controller is operating at maximum. When workload priorities change, FlexShare settings can be changed on the fly.

Moreover, features in Data ONTAP allow customers to recover failed applications in minutes, not hours. NetApp is also bringing 4 gigabit Fibre Channel SAN provisioning and data recovery to the table with the new FAS machines.

The machines scale to 1,000 disk drives and up to 500 terabytes of capacity.

For $131,600, the FAS6030 comes with 1 terabyte of storage and scales to 420 terabytes. The FAS6070 handles 504 terabytes for $196,225.

Why is NetApp turning to the high end?

While IDC says NetApp is No. 2 in NAS and No. 1 in iSCSI, the Sunnyvale, Calif., company has only about a 2 percent market share in SAN.

The new FAS systems are designed to help EMC build on that, Warmenhoven said.

“The perception of us in the industry is we’re largely a NAS player,” Warmenhoven said. “Our SAN business grew by over 100 percent in this last fiscal year.”

The CEO says SAN is NetApp’s fastest growing piece of its business, and now represents over 20 percent of the company’s business.

Still, while NetApp has some good upside to its FAS6000 line, it has a long way to go to catch up with EMC and HDS.

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.

Get the Free Newsletter!

Subscribe to Cloud Insider for top news, trends, and analysis.

Latest Articles

15 Software Defined Storage Best Practices

Software Defined Storage (SDS) enables the use of commodity storage hardware. Learn 15 best practices for SDS implementation.

What is Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)?

Fibre Channel Over Ethernet (FCoE) is the encapsulation and transmission of Fibre Channel (FC) frames over enhanced Ethernet networks, combining the advantages of Ethernet...

9 Types of Computer Memory Defined (With Use Cases)

Computer memory is a term for all of the types of data storage technology that a computer may use. Learn more about the X types of computer memory.