NetApp enters large-capacity storage market

The company unveiled a pair of enterprise-class Fibre Channel systems, one of which can handle 420 terabytes and the other 504 terabytes.

Government storage managers shopping for large-capacity disk systems now have a new option to weigh from a company that, although a fresh face in this part of the market, is hardly a newcomer on the storage scene.

Network Appliance (NetApp) unveiled today a pair of enterprise-class Fibre Channel storage systems that join the ranks of high-end systems offered by such competitors as EMC, Hewlett-Packard and Hitachi Data Systems.

The new NetApp FAS6030 can store as much as 420 terabytes of data, while the FAS6070 can handle as much as 504 terabytes, which is considerably more than the 168 terabytes maximum capacity of the company’s previous high-end system, the FAS3050.

FAS6000 series systems can do double duty, serving file-based data as network-attached storage (NAS) devices and/or handling lower-level block-based storage to support databases and other enterprise applications via storage-area network (SAN) connections.

To reach customers, NetApp officials will promote the newFAS6000 series systems as less expensive to purchase and manage than their competitors’ products, because of built-in storage management features and a unified storage operating system throughout the NetApp product line that make storage administrators more productive, said Dan Warmenhoven, NetApp’s chief executive officer.

NetApp grew to prominence as an early player in the NAS market, though in the past couple of years, the company has introduced Fibre Channel and iSCSI systems to expand into the block-based SAN market. As a result, those types of products now account for 40 percent of the firm’s sales, Warmenhoven said.

Nonetheless, the company continues to battle the perception that its expertise is only in midrange NAS, an obstacle NetApp will face as it begins marketing the FAS6000 series products.

“The image challenge we have is that NetApp is a full-line supplier, top to bottom, all access types and any environment you want,” he said. “Perceptions of us largely are anchored in our history as opposed to our current” product line.

The company has made steady progress in the government market since opening a federal sales office several years ago, Warmenhoven said. Federal sales now account for about 12 percent of the company’s business, he said.

The two new FAS6000 series systems are available immediately. The starting price for the FAS6030, which includes approximately 1 terabyte of raw storage and one storage controller, is $131,600, while the starting price for the FAS6070 with about 1 terabyte of raw storage and one controller is $196,225.

The FAS6000 series systems can support Fibre Channel and cheaper Serial Advanced Technology Attachment drives in the same system, as well as10 Gigabit Ethernet and 4 Gigabit Fibre Channel interfaces to host computing systems.

NetApp officials also announced an upgrade to the company’s Data ONTAP 7G operating system, which runs on the company’s storage systems. Enhancements in the new Version 7.2 include the ability to tailor system performance levels to different storage volumes on the same system and increasing the number from 199 to 499 of storage volumes supported using the companies FlexVol feature.

Finally, the company also introduced two new services, a special support package specifically for the new FAS6070 product and a rapid deployment service that helps customers more quickly plan, design, implement and test the installation of their new NetApp products.

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