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NetApp is beefing up its push to the small and mid-size storage market with the introduction of a new version of its FAS2000 unified storage appliances as well as a dramatic price drop of an existing appliance to hit the sub-$7,500 part of the market.
Most importantly, the company's new assault on the SMB market comes by extending its existing unified storage technology to new lower entry points instead of using a completely new architecture as it did about five years ago with its short-lived StoreVault strategy.
NetApp Tuesday placed a big bet on the midrange business storage market by refreshing about 20 percent of its technology, said Chris Cummings, vice president of product and solutions marketing for the vendor.
"We're looking at how to take the best infrastructure and the cloud, and make it ready for the midrange market," Cummings said.
Like all NetApp's storage appliances, the new FAS2240 models introduced Tuesday feature unified storage capabilities. Unified storage allows block-level (SAN), file-level (NAS), and direct-attached storage protocols to be used simultaneously within a single appliance, thereby simplifying the management of the storage.
David Hitz, founder and executive vice president of NetApp, said NetApp introduced the unified storage concept along with the need to be able to grow storage capacity and performance without having to replace existing hardware about 10 years ago, and has been improving on it ever since.
"When NetApp was a mid-size company and growing very quickly, whatever system we put in, we knew it would be busted someday and so we'd need a new painful upgrade to a new solution," Hitz said. "That's why unified [storage] is so important. Customers need to scale as they grow. Mid-size enterprise customers want to grow, so the foundation has to be able to grow with them."
Unified storage is a key differentiator of NetApp, said Rolf Strasheim, director of client solutions at Peak UpTime, a Tulsa, Okla.-based solution provider and long-term NetApp partner.
"It's why I exclusively rep NetApp," Strasheim said. "I'd never want to tell a customer, 'Let's go with (an EMC) VNXe, and I will later help you migrate your data to a VNX.' I'd never want to go to a customer with hat in hand and say, 'I can upgrade you, take your system off-line, and sell you the services to migrate your data.'"
While EMC got a lot of buzz with the January introduction of its VNX and VNXe SMB range of storage appliances, NetApp remains the fastest-growing midrange business storage vendor with a 60-percent year-to-year growth rate, Cummings said, quoting IDC statistics. About one-third of NetApp's revenue comes from the midrange market, he said.
"Hewlett-Packard is number one in this market," he said. "We are number two. Our goal is to be number one. And we can't reach this market without a storage channel. To do that, we can't just focus on products. We need to offer an entire solutions portfolio. When we look at our major competitors, we see that reach is king. Without partners, we can't reach this market."
NetApp unveiled two new midrange storage appliances in the new FAS2240 family, which according to some NetApp marketing material and confirmed by channel sources is code-named "Vespa."
The FAS2240-2 expands to up to 374 TBs in a 2U rack mount enclosure with eight Gbit Ethernet ports and four 6-Gbps SATA ports. It also supports an additional I/O card which offers either four 8-Gbps Fibre Channel or four 10-Gbps Ethernet ports.
Next: Dramatic Price Drop For The FAS2040