Network Appliance highlights benefits of networked storage

Network Appliance has upgraded elements of its software and hardware lines as part of its continuing effort to prove the cost...

Network Appliance has upgraded elements of its software and hardware lines as part of its continuing effort to prove the cost and management benefits of networked storage, writes Eric Doyle.

The company believes most enterprises are moving away from direct attached storage, where information is kept locally and can only be accessed by a few servers.

Advances in networking technologies have made it possible to open up this data to more servers and users, typically through San or Nas environments.

Analyst IDC predicts storage needs will increase rapidly while support staff levels stay the same. IDC research shows that storage capacity is rising by nearly 80% a year with staff numbers virtually unchanged - requiring a 60% per annum increase in efficiency.

Network Appliance will release version 1.1 of its Data Fabric Manager in October. The software will enable storage management to be centralised. A key addition is support for Sun Microsystems Solaris 2.8 Unix operating system.

The company is also introducing the first multiprocessor versions of its storage appliances which are designed to work with large databases or complex corporate applications such as enterprise resource planning software.

The F880 can handle up to 6Tbytes of data, and a dual clustered version, the F880c, can scale up to 12Tbytes.

As Network Appliance upgrades other parts of its software line it expects this larger unit to be able to manage 18Tbytes of data.

With the release of the F880, Network Appliance hopes to cast off its image as a provider of small storage units able to handle only a couple of specific tasks.

"We have an image in the marketplace that is mostly a historical legacy," said Dan Warmenhoven, chief executive of Network Appliance.

"Some people have this notion that an appliance is small.

"Sure, it was not that long ago that the largest system we sold was 1.5Tbytes, but these days we scale up to 18Tbytes."

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