NetApps V-Series Focuses on Virtualization

The company is targeting the products' storage virtualization capabilities in an effort to compete in the data center.

Network Appliance has rebranded and repositioned its gFiler NAS head product line to emphasize the products storage virtualization capabilities.

Now called the NetApp V-Series family, these products still provide unified NAS (network-attached storage) and SAN (storage area network) access to data stored in Fibre Channel SAN storage arrays.

But the company now is focusing on the products virtualization capabilities, such as providing volume management virtualized in front of third-party storage from IBM Corp., Hitachi Data Systems, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

Like its competitors—namely IBMs SAN Volume Controller, HDS TagmaStore, and the forthcoming storage router from EMC—the V-Series essentially turns other functionality in storage arrays into a type of "dumb storage," retaining all intelligence in the virtualization engine.

The V-Series family, combined with the virtualization capabilities of Data ONTAP 7G, provides users with significant advances in the areas of performance, scalability and data protection, said Patrick Rogers, vice president of products and partners at Network Appliance Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif.

The products, whether called gFiler or the V-Series, always had virtualization capabilities, thanks in part to the capabilities of NetApps Data ONTAP software, said Brad Nisbet, a program manager in the storage systems practice of International Data Corp. of Framingham, Mass.

"They got smart and realized that they had a product that could compete directly with IBM, HDS, and soon, EMC," Nisbet said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about NetApp developing new data management software.

The V-Series typically would be used within the data center, typically where a SAN already exists.

Its also a good fit for organizations that have heterogeneous storage arrays deployed, Nisbet said.

NetApps V-Series stacks up very well against this competition, although it does provide one capability the others—at least so far—cant do as well.

The V-Series stands alone in providing a virtualization engine for both block (iSCSI or FCP—the implementation of SCSI for Fibre Channel) and file (NAS, SAN and IP SAN) storage networking paradigms under a common architecture, at least with the degree of integration NetApp provides, Nisbet said.

SAN Volume Controller, for example, doesnt have integrated file-level services, although it does have a separate SAN file system.

Eventually, however, Nisbet expects all vendors with storage virtualization products to be able to provide everything under a single management console.

Repositioning its gFiler products as storage virtualization products is a good move for NetApp and could significantly help the company compete in this fast-growing area, Nisbet said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifRead more here about how NetApp enabled a hotel management company to run a data management system.

"Its a way for NetApp to get into the door, and a great way for them to gain mindshare in the data center," he said.

The V-Series product line currently supports HDS Lightning and Thunder, IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server and DS4000 series, HP StorageWorks XP disk arrays, Hitachi Japans SANRISE systems and Sun StorEdge 9900 series.

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