I installed the FAS2040 on my test network via Gigabit Ethernet, connecting independently to both controllers in the chassis. I carved both aggregates into multiple volumes and shares, defining some as CIFS file shares while setting others up as iSCSI targets. (Like the other systems reviewed, the NetApp also allows you to create NFS shares for Linux/Unix clients.) As with the FalconStor and Spectra Logic appliances, I used the NetApp's various CIFS shares as NAS file storage and as a backup destination for my physical and virtual Windows Server 2008 machines. I had no trouble using both mapped drives and UNC (Universal Naming Convention) connections to the NetApp from all of my servers, physical and virtual. I also had no trouble mounting iSCSI shares as local storage using Microsoft's iSCSI initiator in Windows Server 2008. Each mounted volume behaved exactly like local storage.
One feature I really liked in the FAS2040 was the dual storage controllers. Depending on your needs and the configuration of the appliance, one chassis can serve as its own Active/Passive failover device. In case one controller should suffer a catastrophic failure, the other controller can take over transparently. Or, as in my case, you can use both controllers in an Active/Active configuration, if you want both controllers online and providing independent storage to your network.
Part of my testing involved simple file copies to the shares on the NetApp, while the other was based on using the NetApp as a destination for multiple Backup Exec jobs. The NetApp's deduplication of files and folders was impressive, showing excellent detection and elimination of duplicate or partially duplicate data. Like the FalconStor and Spectra Logic appliances, data reduction of highly duplicative file shares easily passed 90%. However, I was surprised at the trouble the NetApp had with the Backup Exec backup files.
Using the NetApp System Manager, it is an easy process to define a deduplication policy for each disk share on the appliance.
During my tests, I stored multiple daily backup sets to a NetApp CIFS volume from each server. Regardless of how or when the deduplication engine analyzed the stored backup files, I never got better than about 8% data reduction on the volume. Exchange message stores fared better, showing on average a reduction of 12% in disk usage.