NetApp aims at EMC, HP, HDS

By Dave Simpson

—Emphasizing increased productivity and lower cost of ownership more than "speeds and feeds," Network Appliance today introduced high-end hardware and services in an attempt to put a dent in the data-center armor of EMC, Hewlett-Packard, and Hitachi Data Systems.

Also today, EMC revamped its mid-range Clariion disk arrays and added support for 4Gbps Fibre Channel host connections and disk drives (see "EMC debuts new architecture for Clariion").

NetApp's new high-end disk arrays include the FAS6030 and FAS6070. (The company also announced corresponding models in its line of V-Series virtualization arrays—the V6030 and V6070.) From a capacity and performance perspective, the FAS6000 series falls between other "modular" arrays—such as EMC's CX700 and HDS's AMS1000—and "frame" arrays such as EMC's Symmetrix DMX and HDS's TagmaStore USP arrays.

However, from a competitive positioning standpoint, the FAS6000 arrays are aimed squarely at the high-end frame arrays, according to Dan Warmenhoven, Network Appliance's CEO. "Previously, our systems didn't scale beyond the mid-tier, but with the FAS6070 we're in the class of the highest-end systems, including the EMC DMX and Hitachi's TagmaStore," says Warmenhoven.

The FAS6000 systems scale up to 504TB of capacity with as many as 1,008 disk drives (Fibre Channel and/or Serial ATA, or SATA) and include up to 32 Fibre Channel host ports (2Gbps or 4Gbps) or 48 Ethernet ports. (Maximum capacity specifications assume the use of 500GB SATA drives.)

Network Appliance claims an internal bandwidth of 64GBps, which is the same as the stated bandwidth of EMC's Symmetrix DMX3000 but less than the 128GBps bandwidth of the Symmetrix DMX-3. The internal bandwidth of HDS's TagmaStore arrays ranges from 34GBps to 68GBps.

The FAS6000 systems support all of Network Appliance's software, including Snapshot, FlexClone, the FlexVol capacity utilization tool, FlexShare (which allows administrators to set and dynamically change data-set priorities to balance workloads), and RAID-DP, NetApp's version of RAID-6, which protects against simultaneous failures of two disk drives.

The company also released an enhanced version of the NetApp Manageability Software family, which is designed to allow data management from a business perspective. The suite includes four sets of tools—application, server, data, and storage—under the Integrated Data Management (IDM) umbrella.

Although stressing the relatively low cost of the modular FAS6000 series versus competing frame arrays, NetApp officials did not provide specific pricing information for the FAS6000 models. However, they did say that the FAS6030 is priced about the same as the existing FAS980, while providing up to 4x the capacity and 30% more performance.

The FAS6070 provides approximately 80% more performance and 5x the capacity of the FAS980 at about a 40% price premium over the FAS980 controller, according to Network Appliance.

Features of the FAS6000 arrays that are not available on the FAS980 include optional support for SATA drives and support for 4Gbps Fibre Channel and 10Gbps Ethernet host interfaces.

IBM is expected to resell the FAS6000 systems, although the company did not make an official announcement today.

(A more detailed version of this article will appear in the June print issue of InfoStor.)

This article was originally published on May 08, 2006