Network Appliance Takes Aim At Midmarket, Channel With New NAS Appliances

The move comes only a couple weeks after archrival Microsoft, looking to extend its Windows-based operation system into the storage space, introduced software to run NAS appliances in the midrange and enterprise markets.

NetApp introduced the FAS250, which scales to 1 terabyte in a 3U rack-mount enclosure and supports iSCSI, connectivity. Prices start at about $10,000, said Suresh Vasuvedevan, director of software product marketing at the company. The FAS250 has actually been quietly shipping for the past three to four months but was never formally unveiled, Vasuvedevan said.

New from NetApp this week are the FAS270 and FAS270C. The FAS270 scales to up to 4 Tbytes and can be used as a NAS appliance or as part of a Fibre Channel or iSCSI SAN, said Vasuvedevan. The FAS270C is similar to the FAS270, except that it has two internal controllers that allow for high-availability clustering in a single unit, he said.

All three new FAS200-series products can be scaled up to the company's 900-series NAS appliances, with capacity of up to 48 Tbytes, by replacing their NAS controllers, Vasuvedevan said.

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The new FAS200 appliances are aimed at midmarket companies, which Vasuvedevan defined as having annual revenue of $100 million to $1 billion. They are also aimed at global enterprises with multiple distributed data centers, he said.

Michael Fanelli, western regional manager at Sales Strategies, a Metuchen, N.J.-based solution provider, praised NetApp for finally targeting this market with the new appliances. "They're now hitting the area with the most activity--the small and midrange NAS space," he said.

NetApp has had difficulty penetrating that space, mainly because of price, said Fanelli. "But SMBs will probably spend $10,000 for NAS," he said. "When they put these products in the most active part of the market, they're hitting the sweet spot."

Leonard Iventosch, vice president of channel sales at NetApp, said the company is not specifically targeting Microsoft with the new midrange NAS appliances.

"The product was not designed with Microsoft in mind," Iventosch said. "There's a possibility we may collide a little bit. But we don't see the two colliding head-on. ... When we look at Microsoft, we focus more on cooperating with iSCSI and Windows and not so much on competition."

Also new this week for NetApp is its first support for HP-UX, AIX and Linux environments, in addition the Windows and Solaris environments it previously supported, said Vasuvedevan.

That is a move the channel has been waiting for, said Fanelli. "It's great they're opening up that [Unix] market," he said. "It gives them a lot more targets to go after."

NetApp also unveiled a new version of its SnapLock NAS operating system with full compliance with such U.S. regulations as SEC Rule 17a-4, HIPAA, 21CFR Part 11 and Sarbanes-Oxley, Vasuvedevan said. The main difference with SnapLock Compliance compared with earlier versions of the software is that it complies with the regulations in terms of how long data must be retained without being changed, he said.

Also new is SnapLock Enterprise, which is similar to SnapLock Compliance except that it allow new data-retention schemes to be applied to legacy data, said Vasuvedevan.

Iventosch said that more than 60 percent of the FAS250s sold so far have gone through the channel on a worldwide basis, and that distributors such as Avnet and Arrow have been able to use the NAS appliances to bring in new NetApp solution providers.

"Overall, the FAS200 family is a great revenue opportunity for the channel," Iventosch said. "We're not sure how the new products will affect us from an overall revenue point of view. But for incremental revenue, we see a great opportunity because our channel partners are targeting areas we can't target ourselves."