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Network Appliance Fills in Product Line

Network Appliance Tuesday will move to bolster its portfolio with a handful of new storage products, including a low-end series of file servers to fill a gap in its product line and fresh software to dovetail with federal compliance regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

The Sunnyvale, Calif. vendor's senior director of software, Suresh Vasudevan, told internetnews.com the FAS200 series enterprise storage systems are unique in that they fill out Network Appliance's low-end line, but also have the ability to scale up to more data center-like environments.

The FAS250 is designed for network-attached storage (NAS) and iSCSI storage area network (SAN) environments, while the FAS270/FAS270c (cluster) is designed for NAS, iSCSI, and/or Fibre Channel SAN environments. Vasudevan said the new FAS200 series complements the FAS900 high-end and FAS800 midrange file servers, but cautioned that the phrase "entry-level" is "not as accurate here because the systems have the ability to power remote sites and extend to departmental data centers."

Wrapped in a form factor of 3U, the FAS200 series stores from a half terabyte to 48 terabytes without having to move data back and forth, whereas Vasudevan said most low-end file servers tend to need a lot of data copying. This saves customers a lot of administrative duties. These new machines also unify the storage capabilities of NAS and SAN devices.

Moreover, the FAS series now supports Windows, Solaris, HP-UX, IBM-AIX and Linux operating systems for the SAN, opening up greater market opportunities for Network Appliance. Starting around $10,000, Vasudevan said the FAS200 series represents an attractive price point compared to offerings from such vendors as IBM and Hitachi Data Systems.

With regard to compliance, which has become the hot buzzword in IT ever since Enron and Worldcom rocked the business world with corporate accounting scandals and data destruction, Network Appliance has tweaked its SnapLock Compliance software and issued a new release of the product, SnapLock Enterprise. SnapLock Compliance makes sure such US regulations as SEC Rule 17a-4, HIPAA, 21 CFR Part 11, and Sarbanes-Oxley are met. SnapLock Compliance is now available on both NetApp FAS servers and the NearStore platform.

Vasudevan said SnapLock Enterprise is a new version of SnapLock software designed to protect important information that cannot be changed for a long time. It is designed for nonregulated data such as seismic surveys, automobile collision reports, or customer records that should not be changed but that do not need to meet government guidelines. SnapLock Enterprise is available now for NetApp NearStore and FAS900 series systems, as well as for the FAS200 series systems.

Enterprise Storage Group Analyst Peter Gerr praised Network Appliance's decision to offer two types of compliance software at a time when more choices are extremely important to customers. He told internetnews.com that Network Appliance's approach to compliance with SnapLock is unique in that the company is offering the software as an add-on feature as opposed to EMC's approach of offering compliance-oriented Centera as a standalone product.

"Dividing disk-based WORM [write once, read many] functionality into two distinct segments for regulated and non-regulated data is a smart move, Gerr said. NetApp is really changing the face of WORM-based solutions and this is a strong competitive answer to EMC's Centera. It's going to take NetApp a little while to close the gap between itself and EMC but making SnapLock a feature across all products sends a good message and investment protection story for customers. To be successful, NetApp has to educate itself on challenge users are facing. To win against EMC, NetApp has to create a strong group of software partners to help raise awareness of the product."

To be sure, Network Appliance signed up fellow vendors in the compliance data space to employ SnapLock to raise the profile of the software. They are CYA Technologies, Documentum, EDUCOM TS, Enigma Data Systems, KVS, Princeton Softech, IXOS, iLumin, AXS-One and Legato.FileNet, FileTek, TOWER Technology, CommVault Systems, OpenText, LaserFiche Document Imaging and Optik have all agreed to support the product as well.