Why Rip and Replace When You Can Replicate?


Network Appliance  no longer wants to be noticed
solely as a maker of storage boxes, so it’s stoking the fires of its data
management strategy.


The company has rewritten the ReplicatorX replication software it acquired
from Topio last year to work with storage arrays from any vendor, including
EMC , IBM , HP  and
Hitachi Data Systems.


So, while those vendors may offer replication software that works only with
their own storage arrays, ReplicatorX doesn’t discriminate, opening up the
potential for NetApp to sell the software into datacenters hosting storage
devices from several sources.


ReplicatorX runs as an agent on any operating system and also works with any
protocol, including Fibre Channel SAN, iSCSI, direct-attached storage (DAS)
or internal disk.


Jay Kidd, senior vice president and general manager in NetApp’s emerging
products group, said the new dimensions in flexibility are geared to help
customers avoid the vendor lock-in problem, where customers have to build
exact replicas of primary servers on the recovery, or secondary side.


“While NetApp may not be present in an account, we have an opportunity to
penetrate by offering replication software, which in many cases is better
than what exists on the native storage array,” Kidd said. “We can copy from
anybody’s primary to anybody’s secondary storage.”


Whenever a write goes from the application host to the primary storage, a
copy of that write is sent across the wire to the secondary storage. The
ReplicatorX appliance receives it and assures the writes from the secondary
site are applied in exactly the same mode as they occured on the primary
site.


Moreover, ReplicatorX has almost no impact on application performance and
can replicate data up to any distance.


Kidd said NetApp expects ReplicatorX to penetrate environments where NetApp
has no hardware but the businesses want to improve their existing
replication software from EMC or IBM, etc. The company will also sell it
with NetApp secondary storage by luring customers with the promises of
snapshots, or point in time copies of the replica.


Kidd also said NetApp has tailored ReplicatorX for disaster recovery (priced
per terabyte), data migration (priced per week or month), business
continuity service providers (priced per terabyte) and cloning for test and
development (also priced per terabyte).


In related news, NetApp enhanced its SnapDrive, which automatically
provisions storage to a server. The latest version of SnapDrive for Windows
includes a new space reclaimer feature that enables customers to improve the
way the primary storage and secondary storage perform.


NetApp has enjoyed significant storage software growth so far in 2007,
according to researcher IDC. In the first quarter this year, the company
posted slaes of $270 million, a better than 49 percent growth from Q1 2006
and good for a 10 percent share of the storage software market.


Also, NetApp boosted the Unix support for its Virtual File Manager
Enterprise Edition (VFM-EE) and now can manage file data for Red Hat
Enterprise Linux 4.0 and Solaris 10.0.

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