Revamping Storage with NetApp

By Brian Fonseca  |  Posted 2005-10-31 Print this article Print

Determined to revamp its primary storage system, Hargrove called in the original party responsible for suggesting EMCs Clariion box three years ago—Plan B Technologies. At the time, the systems integrator had suggested EMC as the best fit to provide Hargrove with a SAN (storage area network) environment, since its data was being stored on local hard drives.
However, once Hargrove decided to shift gears and move away from EMC, Plan B Technologies turned to NetApp.

"[Hargroves] lease was up on the FC4700, so they had a migration decision to make," said Steve Taylor, chief technology officer for Plan B Technologies, in Bowie, Md. "They had evolved more into a NAS [network-attached storage]/SAN play. Their applications have changed in the last three years since we implemented the FC4700, becoming more reliant on [Microsoft Corp.s] SharePoint and Exchange.

"Because of those needs and standard file server delivery, we recommended a ubiquitous storage platform that was simple and very low cost. We recommended a NetApp FAS 270 that could do FICP (Fast Infrared Communication Port) and iSCSI and protect data because they desired using [NetApps] snapshot functionality," Taylor said.

Using NetApp products, Hargrove implemented the FAS 270 filer with 8TB of storage space. NetApp technology running on the appliance includes Data OnTap 7G, the primary storage array operating system; CIFS (Common Internet File System) software; iSCSI software; SnapManager for SQL and SnapManager for Exchange; and SnapRestore.

King said Plan Bs preparation and familiarity with Hargroves systems made the decision to switch to NetApp less risky.

There are certain features King said she enjoys about the NetApp FAS 270 appliance: the straightforwardness of the products navigation and user interface and its ability to easily increase size without having to shift data around.

"NetApp is a little less proprietary. EMC products—we basically couldnt touch it. If we needed anything, we had to call EMC. For NetApp, if a drive needs to be replaced, we pull it out, and its up and running again. They can do maintenance if its something we cant do," she said.

Since it is not uncommon for Hargrove to save 500MB files and 1GB or 2GB of storage—with many of those larger files used for three-dimensional rendering—NetApp has greatly increased the companys backup capabilities via its snapshot technology.

Before, King said, Hargrove would start its backup on a Friday evening and finish the operation on Monday for full backup of 17 LTO-1 tapes. King said NetApp technology enables her staff to copy snapshots and move the data off-site more quickly and allows for single-mailbox recovery in Exchange to assist with file restores and recovery.

Along with increased storage space and iSCSI-over-Fibre Channel connectivity benefits, King said the biggest distinction between the two configurations is the NAS capabilities on the NetApp filer.

"That was a huge selling point. This system is NAS and SAN. We were only using Clariion for NAS and file sharing, so we had applications underutilized," King said. "When we addressed this, our CEO said, Why do we need another SAN system? He chose against that because of backup capabilities."

Despite getting an earful, and a spirited attempt by EMC to retain Hargrove as a customer, Plan B pointed its client toward NetApp because the technology and the companys needs dictated the marriage, said Taylor.

"Hargrove is in business to do what they do; theyre not in [the] business of managing storage," Taylor said. "So we have to make sure that whatever they use is something they personally can work with. If it doesnt work, then Hargrove knows where to turn."

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.

Brian Fonseca is a senior writer at eWEEK who covers database, data management and storage management software, as well as storage hardware. He works out of eWEEK's Woburn, Mass., office. Prior to joining eWEEK, Brian spent four years at InfoWorld as the publication's security reporter. He also covered services, and systems management. Before becoming an IT journalist, Brian worked as a beat reporter for The Herald News in Fall River, Mass., and cut his teeth in the news business as a sports and news producer for Channel 12-WPRI/Fox 64-WNAC in Providence, RI. Brian holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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