BY LISA COLEMAN
In further evidence of a developing trend toward backup to disk (as part of a disk-to-disk-to-tape scheme), Network Appliance this week announced the NearStore family of network-attached storage (NAS) devices for backup consolidation. However, NetApp is not committing to a firm delivery schedule, other than saying that it will be available 'in the first half of 2002.'
The NearStore family - the first product will be the R100 - starts at 12TB and scales to 100TB. It runs Network Appliance's standard microkernel software, DataOnTap, and also leverages SnapMirror and DataFabric Manager software. NearStore is built with low-cost ATA drives to offer storage at $0.02 per megabyte in some configurations.
As ATA disk array prices have dropped, several companies recently announced disk-to-disk backup capability. However, vendors do not consider disk-based backup as a replacement for tape, but rather a complement to tape backup, explains Brad Nisbet, senior research analyst at International Data Corp. Many environments ultimately rely on tape for archival and legal purposes, says Nisbet.
"The greatest advantage of disk-based backup is that it offers extremely fast recovery compared to tape," says Nisbet. "Businesses that once relied on tape for backup can now consider disk-based backup for quick recovery."
Like other companies incorporating disk-to-disk backup capabilities, Network Appliance is not advocating replacing tape with disk but, rather, including tape in a three-tier storage environment that streamlines backups to tape. "Instead of backing up from your primary frontline storage to tape, which taxes the frontline storage, you can use SnapMirror to replicate data from the filers to NearStore, then do the backup to tape," explains Ray Villeneuve, vice president of strategic marketing at Network Appliance. "That offloads the backup from the frontline storage and enables rapid recovery of the most recently backed-up data."
NearStore is compatible with Network Appliance's NAS filers, as well as Windows NT and Unix platforms. Using SnapMirror replication software, multiple filers can copy their data onto the R100, and then backup to tape.
Network Appliance is also working with third-party backup software vendors - although it declined to say which companies - to enable backup from direct-attached storage, NT, Unix, and other servers to NearStore in a tape format (as a virtual tape device) and other formats as well.
In addition to NearStore, Network Appliance also introduced two new NAS devices, the F87 and F810, which take advantage of faster processors. The company has transitioned out the 700 series products that were based on the Alpha processor. This is the first time Network Appliance will have an all-Intel product family.
Targeting remote or branch offices, the Pentium III-based F87 will replace the F85 filer, which is being phased out. The F87 scales to 576GB.
The F810 (available in either a single filer or clustered configuration) replaces the F740. The F810 scales to 1.5TB, or to 3TB in an F810c two-node cluster with active/active fail-over.
The F87 starts at $13,900 for 216GB of storage with six 36GB drives. Configured with 72GB drives, it is priced $24,700. The F810 starts at $30,000 for one head, one protocol, and no storage. With 1TB of disk storage, it's priced at $50,000.