By Ann Silverthorn
—IBM this week announced the System Storage N5000 series of NAS appliances targeted at the midrange market. The N5200 and N5500 represent the second phase of IBM's staged rollout of Network Appliance's product line.
The N5200 and N5500 are equivalent to Network Appliance's FAS270 and 3050, respectively. The only difference between the IBM and NetApp boxes are in physical appearance. So why would customers buy the same box from IBM that they could get from NetApp?
"IBM has loyal blue customers who want a single vendor for their servers, storage, and software," responds John Foley, worldwide product marketing manager on the IBM Network Product Alliance. "Other customers buy products from only one or two vendors. They look to vendors that can provide a good part of what they need. Also, government agencies certify a certain platform or vendor, and it's easier for those agencies to buy from a vendor that's been certified."
In the future, IBM may decide to do some customization, but if so Foley says any improvements would be shared with Network Appliance.
The N5000 series supports concurrent attachments to IP and Fibre Channel networks. For IP networks, the boxes use NAS protocols (CIFS and NFS) and can also run the iSCSI protocol to support IP SANs. All protocols can run simultaneously.
Using Serial ATA (SATA) drives and running the same software as Network Appliance's NearStor systems, IBM's N5000 series can function as nearline storage. In addition, by loading the optional SnapLock software, the appliances can be used as write-once, read-many (WORM) data-retention systems to meet regulatory requirements for non-erasable and non-rewritable disk.
IBM claims that the N5000 series offers a total of 30 storage management and data-protection software features, including thin provisioning, volume management, snapshots, mirroring, and clustering.
The IBM System Storage N5200 and N5500 offer different high-availability features, scalability, and performance capabilities. They will be generally available on December 9 in both single- and dual-controller models. The N5200 and N550 are priced from $60,000 and $85,000, respectively.