Dell, NetApp release midrange NAS devices

Dell Computer Corp. and Network Appliances Inc. both released new network-attached storage (NAS) devices this week aimed at the low- and midrange market.

For Dell, formerly a NetApp NAS appliance reseller, the step is its first foray into the midrange space, a booming market into which more vendors are expected to plunge over the next year, analysts say.

NetApp, meanwhile, said it has opened a lab with SAP PartnerPort in Walldorf, Germany, as part of a technology partnership with SAP AG to run the software vendor's customer relationship management and enterprise resource program applications on its hardware.

"NAS technology is a powerful solution in the storage farms, which are vital for IT landscapes," Wolfgang Becker, vice president of SAP Advanced Technology Group, said in a statement.

On Monday, Round Rock, Texas-based Dell introduced its first midrange file server, the PowerVault 735N. Dell said the appliance can be installed in about 15 minutes and managed remotely. The 735N, which runs off a Window's platform, comes with software for snapshot backup and mirroring and can scale up to 1.44 terabytes (TB) of storage. Prices start at $9,999 for a single-processor model or $11,999 for a dual processor.

Dell's newest low-end device, the PowerVault 701N, is a desk-side filer for small businesses that can store 60GB of data and is priced at $1,399.

NAS market leader NetApp, in Sunnyvale, Calif., also released low- and midrange storage systems: the F85 and F820, as well as a midrange caching system, the C3100. The company also announced a clustered file server, the F820c.

The F820 file server is the low-end machine that replaces the F760, said Chris Bennett, director of hardware products at NetApp. The F820 can hold 3TB of data and has a base price of $70,000. Bennett said the machine provides 50% better performance at a price point comparable to the F760. The F820c file server can be clustered to scale up to 6TB of storage and has a base price of $195,000.

NetApp also introduced a new low-end tape backup product. The F85 was designed for corporate satellite offices. The drive holds up to 648GB of data and has a base price of $13,900. "The reason this is significant is it enables an enterprise to put a filing device in a regional office and manage it completely from the data center," Bennett said.

NetApp said file servers also come with snapshot backup and mirroring capability.

Along with its other suite of products, NetApp this week introduced the C3100, a caching server that replaces the C760 and holds up to 486GB. It sells for about $40,000.

NetApp's low- and midrange offerings are representative of vendors fighting to shore up market share as new companies enter the lucrative marketplace, said William Hurley, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston. "With the anticipated slowdown in IT spending, it makes those fighting for the available storage dollar fight that much harder," Hurley said.

Robert Gray, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, said the NAS market is more fertile than the storage-area network (SAN) arena because it requires less sophisticated technology.

IDC's 2000 Worldwwide Disk Systems Market Forecast and Analysis, due out this month, states that the NAS market is expected to grow from $2.1 billion last year to $14.7 billion in 2004, or about 100% each year.

An example of expansion into that marketplace by nontraditional vendors was EMC Corp.'s release of the IP4700 midrange NAS appliance earlier this year. The product was aimed squarely at NetApp's market share, analysts agreed.

"As much as Digital [Equipment Corp.] back 25 years ago was paranoid about Data General, I think EMC is strategically concerned about the momentum NetApp is building," Gray said.

This story, "Dell, NetApp release midrange NAS devices" was originally published by Computerworld.

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