NAS Option Set to Take Off

In a battle for a piece of the network-attached storage market that analysts say could reach $5.78 billion by 2005, EMC, IBM and others are developing NAS hardware and software products for release over the next three months.

Enterprises considering installing NAS platforms as an inexpensive alternative to direct-attached storage or the storage area network concept will have quite a few vendors vying for their attention this summer.

In a battle for a piece of the network-attached storage market that analysts say could reach $5.78 billion by 2005, companies ranging from EMC Corp. and Microsoft Corp. to Network Appliance Inc., Dell Computer Corp. and IBM are developing NAS hardware and software products for release over the next three months.

The Jelly Belly Candy Co., in Fairfield, Calif., is already experiencing the attention but is satisfied with Network Appliances products.

"Its something thats not going to be pried easily out of our data center," said IT Director Dan Rosman. "Im not too worried about it because [Network Appliance has] been around long enough. I chose them for ease of management and the architecture they have."

Conversely, Xilinx Inc., which makes programmable logic circuits and is another Network Appliance user, is entertaining the competition. The company uses Network Appliance for "headroom," said Thomas Weis, director of general systems of the companys design software division, in Boulder, Colo. Xilinx has almost 20 terabytes of storage, some running on Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. hardware as well. Even though Network Appliances devices are reliable, Weis said Xilinx is "listening to other stories that come along, and I think any intelligent person would do that."

Network Appliance is planning major product rollouts starting this week that will continue through the summer. This week, it will launch NearStore R100, for backup and recovery; SnapVault, for data protection; and MultiStore, for partitioning. Network Appliance will update its flagship F800 series this summer. The new F900 series will support more applications—including Microsofts SQL Server—will target more vertical markets and will scale larger, officials of the Sunnyvale, Calif., company said.

Network Appliance will also offer this summer systems virtualization and synchronous mirroring functionality and plans to merge some of its disk storage products with Brocade Communications Systems Inc.s storage switches, said CEO Dan Warmenhoven, who did not give details.

EMC, of Hopkinton, Mass., and Dell, working together since October, will counter Network Appliance this week with releases of their own. On deck are their Navisphere 6.0 Web-based management and backup software, SnapView 1.3 snapshot software for parallel processing, and MirrorView 1.3 remote mirroring consolidation. But Dell also partners with Microsoft, using its SAK (Server Appliance Kit) 2.0 in its non-EMC NAS products.

Some have said Dell will replace EMCs built-in file system with SAK. Frank Frankovsky, director of Dell-EMC product management at

Dell, in Round Rock, Texas, didnt disagree with the speculation. "Over time, if the Windows SAK continues to improve at the pace it is, it will be difficult to distinguish," Frankovsky said.

For its part, IBM next month will debut an upgrade to Director, called Director 3.1 Real Time Diagnostics, for low-level management of any storage device thats based on Intel Corp. chips, said Karl LaWall, segment director of IBMs storage networking division, in Raleigh, N.C. By using XML and Common Interface Modeling, administrators will be able to trouble-shoot without taking a server offline, LaWall said. Director 3.1 will cost $695, plus $59 per node.

Meanwhile, Quantum Corp., a leader in the low-end NAS market, will get heat from Iomega Corp., best known for its Zip brand removable mass-storage drives. Iomega will announce four NAS devices for Unix this week—the A300u, P400u, P405u and P410u—ranging from 120GB to 480GB.

Iomega plans to follow those releases with Windows-based products in June, said Akshay Gupta, product general manager at the San Diego company. The devices have RAID 5 support, and, according to sources close to the company, Iomega will announce NAS clustering with software from an unidentified partner late this year.

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