NAS technology enables distributed networks

InfoWorld |  Storage

IN THE NEXT ROOM or in the next state, e-business networks are increasingly being distributed further and further afield. Helping to enable this IT expansion are improvements in NAS (network attached storage) systems, giving companies the tools to provide local file serving at almost any point on a network.

Additionally, recent NAS offerings from companies such as Network Appliance and Dell Computer now deliver high-end features such as snapshot and load balancing in systems priced for the midsize market. These new products offer the IT industry many enterprise-class NAS features, while saving money and remaining true to the traditional simplicity of NAS architecture.

Steve DuPlessie, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group, in Milford, Mass., agrees that a properly designed NAS solution is as intuitive a device to operate as they come.

"The reason NAS is getting the credit it deserves is it's really easy to use. It's not complicated; it's simple," DuPlessie said.

Intent on offering enterprise-class NAS features while staying fixed in the midmarket price range, Dell recently rolled out its PowerVault 735N, a 144GB NAS system capable of scaling to 1.44TB. Installed in approximately 15 minutes, the Wintel-based PowerVault 735N offers support for Windows, Netware, Unix, Linux, and Macintosh clients, all for slightly less than $10,000, according to Dan Blizinski, a NAS product manager at Round Rock, Texas-based Dell.

A dual-processor XP model of the PowerVault 735N will be available when the 735 series begins shipping Feb. 16, Blizinski said.

"Features like snapshot, load balancing, and mirroring that we will bundle in [the PowerVault 735N] have typically been enterprise-class features," Blizinski said. "Features that are extra with [some NAS products] we want to bundle into the solution for an affordable system for our customers."

Likewise, Network Appliance recently unveiled three lower-and midrange NAS systems -- the F85 Filer, the F820 Filer, and the F820c Filer -- and a midrange caching system, the NetCache C3100.

Chris Bennett, the director of marketing at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Network Appliance, said the company's latest NAS products also offer enterprise-class features such as snapshot and load balancing at the company's midrange price points.

"Our significantly expanding product offering spans the high end to the low end, and [the new NAS systems] are designed with remote offices in mind, priced at PC server prices, because you're not going to put an expensive [NAS system] out in a remote office," Bennett said.

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