Network Appliance ships 96TB NAS system

NAS (network attached storage) pioneer Network Appliance on Monday rolled out a new storage server and software for backup and recovery in local or distributed business environments.

The Network Appliance NearStore R100 is targeted at company's looking to consolidate multiple backup systems such as tape drives into a single storage unit, said Mark Santora, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Network Appliance in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The R100 is also ideal for companies with distributed, outlying offices that require a reliable online backup system to centralize backed-up data, ensuring greater business continuance, Santora said.

Offered with hefty storage capacities of 12TB, 24TB, 48TB, or 96TB, the R100 drops in to most commonly used business computing infrastructure with little or no modification.

"I can take this product and go into a 100 percent non-Network Appliance shop and take any vendor's product that has a spinning disk and I can probably interface with it," Santora said.

At any available storage capacity, the R100 only costs about 4 cents per megabyte of storage. Only tape backup systems are less expensive per megabyte, but the R100 has the advantage of faster data retrieval as it is a disk-based system and free from the inherent latency of tape storage systems, Santora said.

New software called SnapVault, SnapMirror, and SnapRestore also rolled out Monday from Network Appliance.

Leveraging the R100, SnapVault is an online backup tool that assists in backing up remote servers and clients to the R100. Automated routines eliminate the possibility of having a remote office worker forget to backup data, Santora said.

"SnapVault takes all the remote information and does a one-way mirror back to the R-100. So you don't need a tape drive in every office, you just need the R100 and SnapVault to suck the data all back to corporate headquarters over an IP network," Santora said.

SnapMirror software helps storage administrators select certain, specific mission-critical data to be backed up incrementally, as changes to the data are made. This reduces both the amount of overall data being backed as well as network bandwidth requirements for the backup.

SnapRestore reduced recovery time in the event of a system failure by recovering individual files instead of complete files systems, according to Network Appliance.

Additionally, new data management software from Network Appliance called MultiStore allows administrators to partition the R100 into specific domains assigned to different business departments or operating platforms, Santora said.

"MultiStore gives you the capability to cut the R100 up and dedicate certain pipes and certain domains to certain departments," Santora said. "You can have 20 different Windows NT and Unix domains on one filer."

One of the early innovators and leaders in NAS storage, Network Appliance has taken advantage of recent advances in NAS technology and re-cast itself as more of a storage technology provider for the enterprise.

"We have made the turn from a technology evangelist company to an enterprise business solutions company," Santora said.

Don Young, an industry analyst with investment firm UBS Warburg LLC in New York, agrees that competitive advantages, such as price and continued investment in NAS research and product development, position Network Appliance to make headway into the enterprise storage market.

"We still think Network Appliance is the best-positioned company in the enterprise storage space," Young said.

Other experts believe that the commoditization of NAS products by companies such as Dell Computer Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. and a perception that NAS products are less than mission-critical devices could apply drag to Network Appliance's efforts.

"[Network Appliance's] ability to move up the food chain is limited. NAS products have not been considered enterprise-class, as they constitute a single point of failure," said Ashok Kumar, an industry analyst with U. S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray Inc., in Menlo Park, Calif.

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