NetApp aims at EMC, HP, HDS

By Dave Simpson

Emphasizing increased productivity and lower cost of ownership more than “speeds and feeds,” Network Appliance last month 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.

IBM, Network Appliance’s largest OEM partner, is expected to resell the new systems.

Network Appliance’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. (Frame arrays are sometimes referred to as “monolithic” arrays.)

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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 Tagma-Store,” claims 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.)

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Although the FAS6000 systems can be configured with 4Gbps Fibre Channel host connections, they do not currently support 4Gbps Fibre Channel disk drives, as do midrange systems recently introduced by vendors such as EMC and LSI Logic’s Engenio division (see “EMC revamps Clariion architecture,” InfoStor June 2006, p. 8, and “LSI extends 4Gbps FC arrays” InfoStor June 2006, p. 8). At the host connection level, the FAS6000 systems support Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and NAS protocols.

Network Appliance claims an internal bandwidth of 64GBps, which is the same as the internal 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 NetApp Manageability Software family consists of four suites integrated under a Common Management Services platform.
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The FAS6000 systems support all of Network Appliance’s software, including Snapshot, FlexClone, the FlexVol capacity utilization tool, new FlexShare software that 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.

Also last month, NetApp released the 7.2 version of its Data ONTAP 7G operating system, which now supports up to 499 FlexVol volumes and includes an Advanced Single Instance Storage (ASIS) feature that eliminates redundancy in stored data.

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 new Integrated Data Management (IDM) umbrella (see figure).

Pricing for the FAS6030 starts at $131,600 for a 1TB configuration, while FAS6070 pricing starts at $196,225 for a 1TB system.

The FAS6030 provides up to 4x the capacity and 30% more performance than the FAS980, and the FAS6070 provides approximately 5x the capacity and about 80% more performance than the FAS980.

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. All FAS (fabric-attached storage) systems have a common hardware architecture, management tools, and operating system.

This article was originally published on June 01, 2006