After a decade of criticizing the complexity and high price of storage area networks, Network Appliance Inc. officials finally shipped their own SAN products last fall—and promptly found out that its not so easy.
Now, less than a year later, several improvements are being prepared, mostly for the same Fibre Channel market, said Rich Clifton, vice president of NetApps SAN/iSAN business unit. The upgrades include increased operating systems support, SAN-enabled systems that use less rack space and management software updates.
All the Sunnyvale, Calif., companys latest NAS (network-attached storage) devices are SAN-enabled for Sun Microsystems Inc.s Solaris and Microsoft Corp.s Windows. Linux is being added for Fibre Channel, support for Novell Inc. is coming for iSCSI and multiple other Unix flavors are also due this year, Clifton said. "Most large customers have a broader portfolio of enterprise servers in their infrastructure, so theres a lot of pressure on us," he said.
The FAS200 and FAS250 are designed with integrated storage and connectivity, Clifton said. In addition, "youre going to see an aggressive pace" of announcements of future FAS200-series models, featuring higher performance, he said.
Ambrose Earle, technical systems manager at dairy specialist Shamrock Foods Co., runs about 8 terabytes of Oracle Corp. databases and other production data on NetApps high-end FAS900 series. Earle plans to migrate his data centers last few servers to NAS next month, but so far, hes using the Fibre Channel option for tape backups.
"Its a good advantage that we have the ability to add that," said Earle, in Phoenix. "I still think, personally, that [NAS] is better long term" for primary data.
But overall, "if theyre going to increase their revenue and the size of the company and be around longer, then Im all for it," Earle said.
APIs to help integrate NetApp hardware and software with third-party products are still in development, Clifton said. Two such APIs already exist for monitoring; two more will debut within nine months for control, he said.