NetApp turns to backup, adds to product line

Network Appliance unveiled plans Monday for a new family of backup storage units along with additions to its filer lines, looking to round out its network-attached storage portfolio and provide mid-sized companies with more data-management options.

The company announced the NearStore family of products, hoping to give users a cheaper type of disk-based storage system that can rival the low cost of tape for data backup tasks, said Ray Villeneuve, vice president of strategic marketing at Network Appliance. NearStore products will not arrive until the first half of next year, but Network Appliance plans to offer units that can store from 12T bytes to 100T bytes. The NearStore products will work with other vendors' storage servers and with variations of the Unix operating system and Windows NT.

The company would not release pricing at this time but said the NearStore family should let users store data at US$0.02 per megabyte.

Network Appliance focuses on selling NAS (network attached storage) products that allow users to take advantage, for example, of existing ethernet networks to move data around their company. While most servers and storage units are still linked via a direct connection, networked storage along with SANs (storage area networks) that link hardware over a switching network help make information more readily available to users.

Network Appliance also looked to attract medium-sized businesses with the launch of the F810 and F87 filers Monday that will add a wider range of storage capacity to users.

The F810 sits on the lower end of the company's F800 filer series and stores up to 1.5T bytes of data. This product serves as a replacement for the F740 and uses 733MHz Pentium III chips from Intel Corp. Network Appliance expects mid-sized businesses to use the F810 as storage for applications ranging from databases to mail systems, Villeneuve said.

The product, available immediately, starts at just over $29,000, but that price does not include any storage disks.

The F87 comes as a replacement to the F85 filer and will store up to 576G bytes of data. Network Appliance sells both a desktop tower and a rack version of the F87, which starts at $13,900 with six 36G-byte disks, Villeneuve said.

Both the F810 and the F87 come with the company's SnapMirror replication software and SnapRestore data recovery product.

The new products arrive on the heels of a preliminary report for 2001 from research and consulting firm International Data Corp. (IDC) that said Network Appliance will lose its revenue lead in the NAS market for the first time to bitter rival EMC Corp. Network Appliance still sold more units than its competitor and has charged that IDC's numbers simply confirm the higher price of EMC's products.

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