NetApp Merges NAS, SAN

FAS900 series can perform both network-attached storage and storage area network functions.

NEW YORK—Network Appliance Inc., a leader in network-attached storage and a longtime critic of storage area networks, announced Tuesday its first product that can serve both functions.

The new FAS900 series, an upgrade to the F-800 series, has a built-in Fibre Channel switch from Brocade Communications Systems Inc. That and various software changes let users share the arrays disk pool among NAS and SAN uses simultaneously.

"Today Network Appliance is entering the SAN market. You cannot imagine how weird that is for me. For five years Ive been the guy on the stage explaining why SAN sucks," said Dave Hitz, co-founder and vice president of engineering at the Sunnyvale, Calif., company. But just as routers and switches blurred in the networking industry, "I believe the same thing is happening in storage," he said.

Network Appliance began discussing the products potential this spring and began revealing its details last month.

NetApps entrance into the SAN market did not stop Hitz from taking jabs at the competition. Noting that every major player except NetApp has separate product families for high-end, midrange, NAS and SAN, he quipped, "No wonder they think management software is so important."

The products in the FAS900 series are the 9-terabyte 940, the 18-terabyte 940c, the 16-terabyte 960 and the 32-terabyte 960c. Future versions of the 960 and 960c will scale to 24 terabytes and 48 terabytes, officials said. Pricing for the new hardware, which is available now, was not immediately available. The new SAN connectivity of the FAS900 series can also be installed on F-800 series products, officials said. In addition, the F-820 version is now called the F-825, officials said.

"It wouldve been nicer if it had been six months ago," said industry analyst Bob Zimmerman, of Giga Information Group Inc. NetApp, he said, "has a moment for a disruptive technology," but must now prove itself to the SAN industry and users.

Officials also announced Data OnTap 6.3, with new features for functions like snapshotting and replication with the SAN hardware. NetApp will make a version called Manage OnTap, for third-party vendors, which will bundle all of the FAS series software into one developers kit.

Looking forward, NetApp will seek certification for McData Corp. switches in the first half of next year, and the company will announce details of iSCSI connectivity, Hitz said in an interview with eWEEK. Also, NetApp must continue to train its support staff on SAN technology, he said. The companys partnerships could help with that, he added.