NetApp to release nonrewritable array

Network Appliance next week is expected to announce an upgrade of its NearStore disk array that addresses data-retention compliance issues and is squarely aimed at grabbing sales away from EMC's Centera, according to industry sources.

A spokeswoman for NetApp confirmed that it will introduce a new product this week but wouldn't disclose any details.

The sources said NetApp will unveil technology called SnapLock, which will let users partition disk space on NearStore file servers as nonrewritable capacity. The product is designed to help users address regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, parts of which cover document retention and the privacy and security of personal data.

While the price of SnapLock is unknown, NetApp's entry-level NearStore product retails for US$240,000. The file server, used primarily to speed the backup process prior to archiving data to tape, scales from 12TB to 96TB. Like Centera, SnapLock uses ATA disk drives to store fixed data such as e-mail messages, X-rays and document images, the sources said. But they added that NetApp won't mimic EMC's approach of assigning a different identifier to each record.

According to one analyst, SnapLock will likely experience good sales in industries like health care and defense, because it's easy to deploy on existing NearStore arrays. "It does provide the flexibility of having some of the file server (disk space) locked down and some of it not locked down," said the analyst, who asked not to be identified.

However, he added that SnapLock isn't expected to fully meet the Securities and Exchange Commission's rules on data retention, which require financial services firms to ensure that electronic documents are indexed for retrieval purposes and can be verified as authentic and original.

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