High-end NAS market heats up

By Lisa Coleman

The high-end network-attached storage (NAS) market will be getting more competitive this year as the reseller agreement between Hitachi Data Systems and Network Appliance kicks in with both vendors delivering a NAS gateway. Also at the high end, BlueArc is expanding its NAS architecture and targeting online archival storage.

In 2002, the overall NAS market showed a 15% decline in revenue, from about $1.6 billion in 2001 to $1.37 billion in 2002, according to Gartner Dataquest. EMC and Network Appliance are the revenue leaders in both the overall NAS market and in the high-end segment, which Gartner defines as filers priced at $100,000 or more.

Late last year, HDS and Network Appliance signed a two-year OEM agreement that has resulted in a new gateway and a solid NAS road map for HDS. Analysts expect the NAS gateway to be a serious competitor with EMC's Celerra. The gateway also may be the shot in the arm that HDS needs to make a serious bid for a piece of the NAS pie. Previous HDS forays into the NAS market were unsuccessful.

"It's really been a challenge for Hitachi to get headway in the NAS market, and partnering with a market leader is probably the best way of accelerating," says Jamie Gruener, an analyst with The Yankee Group. "To a certain extent, this will give HDS a solid response to what EMC's been doing."

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The gateway series offers the scalability and software features available with other Network Appliance filers and provides a way for HDS to address the trends toward storage consolidation and NAS-SAN convergence.

"Our relationship with NetApp allows users to consolidate NAS and SAN. They can have common storage, common management, and the ability to re-allocate resources," says Hubert Yoshida, vice president and chief technologist at HDS.

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HDS's gateway family is named to correspond to the Network Appliance filer family. The GF940 and GF960 gateways (also available in clustered versions) are special-purpose NAS servers that can attach directly or through Fibre Channel fabrics to Hitachi Freedom Storage Lightning 9900 V arrays.

The GF940 scales to 9TB, or 18TB in the clustered configuration, while the GF960 scales from 24TB to 48TB. Pricing was unavailable at press time. Late next month, HDS will also offer a 3TB GF825 gateway (6TB clustered) that will work with its Thunder 9500 V Series arrays.

HDS will also resell Network Appliance's line of Snap products—SnapDrive, SnapManager, SnapMirror, SnapRestore, and SnapVault—as well as NetApp's FilerView software, which enables IT administrators to use Web browsers for administrative tasks.

The gateways use Network Appliance's proprietary DataOnTap 6.4 operating system. Also, Hitachi is including Hi-Track Monitoring software with the gateway, which provides remote monitoring and diagnosis.

The Thunder and Lightning arrays are managed by HDS's HiCommand software for aggregated storage, or by HDS's Remote Console for single-array management.

Meanwhile, BlueArc is expanding its NAS architecture by adding ATA disk drives and targeting the online archival market.

Analysts say it is a cost-effective architecture—blending high-speed, high-performance Fibre Channel drives with low-cost ATA drives.

BlueArc began shipping its SiliconServer NAS servers in mid-2001. The systems use field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to run software functions, such as network protocols, in hardware.

Last month, BlueArc expanded its Si8000 SiliconServer architecture to include multi-tiered storage (MTS). Previously, its disk options included high-performance 15,000rpm and 10,000rpm Fibre Channel drives. Now, the Si8000 family will include options for adding 7,200rpm or 5,400rpm ATA drives. Users can mix-and-match the different drive types (Fibre Channel and ATA) in the same box.

"The storage tiers aren't dependent on one another, so you don't have to have Fibre Channel in before you put ATA in," says Jeff Allen, senior vice president of marketing for BlueArc.

This article was originally published on May 01, 2003