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 last month 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 this year."
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. He claims that many environments ultimately rely on tape for archival and legal purposes.
"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, NetApp 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 and then do the backup to tape," explains Ray Villeneuve, vice president of strategic marketing at NetApp. "That offloads the backup from the frontline storage and enables rapid recovery of the most recently backed-up data."
NearStore is compatible with NetApp'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 back up to tape.
The offering uses NDMP to back up to tape, but NearStore is not an NDMP target. "It's still a NAS-mounted device, and the backup is over an IP network either under CIFS or NFS. So you're not backing up to it using NDMP," explains Skip Shapiro, manager of storage product marketing at NetApp.
The company is also working with third-party backup software vendors-although it declined to say which-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.
NetApp also introduced two 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 that NetApp 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 is priced from $13,900 for 216GB of storage with six 36GB drives. Configured with 72GB drives, it is priced at $24,700. The F810 is priced from $30,000 for one head, one protocol, and no storage. With 1TB of disk storage, it is priced at $50,000.