Tuesday, May 24, 2005

There was a new press release posted on CRN yesterday, Updated NetApp Line Supports Mixed Drives. On the surface it sounds very nice, and it could be just what you need. However, I am always one to read between the lines in any press release. There are many questions between these lines. I’ll separate some of the lines and show you what I mean.

Kevin Schoonover, director of engineering at Arrow Electronics, said that NetApp seems to have applied a lot of channel and customer feedback into the new appliances. We would all like to believe that, but a lot of our channel and end users would really like transferable licenses on all NetApp equipment, did they address this? I sure is high on the request list of most of the people I talk to.

Specifically, said Schoonover, NetApp in the past did not allow a mixture of Fibre Channel and SATA drives in an array, a feature that he said is important to the channel.

Why is it important to the channel? Is NetApp going to support drives from third party suppliers now? Why would the channel care? If the drives are still only available through NetApp and its distributors, what is the advantage?

Another key feature of Data ONTAP 7G is the ability to dynamically allocate capacity to storage volumes, Suresh Vasudevan (vice president of products for Netapp) said. Typical storage array capacity utilization is in the 30 percent to 40 percent range, and it is usually necessary to allocate more capacity to specific purposes than needed in order to account for the growth of the data, he said. "Data ONTAP 7G reclaims unused space and doubles the utilization of capacity," he said. "It's completely transparent to the user."

Is the 30% typical of a NetApp filer or overall storage systems? What was their test environment? Did it include desktops or only Enterprise NAS and SAN?

While both Clariion and EVA support mixed Fibre Channel and SATA drives, Vasudevan said NetApp's new arrays are more suitable for primary storage because of software that offers RAID-DP protection, which allows up to two hard drives to fail without affecting data availability. "The only other way to do this is to mirror the storage, which is too expensive," he said.

Why is it too expensive to Mirror drives if you just use a simple RAID it is free with most operating systems and ATA drives are cheap. Who says you need to buy an EMC or NetApp system?

OK, I know I’m not supposed to pay this much attention to press release propaganda, but it’s too much fun to read between the lines!

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