Next Generation NAS: A market perspective on the recently introduced Snap Server 500 Series

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1 Next Generation NAS: A market perspective on the recently introduced Snap Server 500 Series ABSTRACT In February 2006, Snap Server announced the 500 Series of Networked Attached Storage systems as well as several data protection and mobility software solutions to help customers store, manage and protect vital information without adding significant cost and complexity. The new storage systems are representative of next-generation NAS supporting multiple disk drive interfaces as well as file (IP) and block (iscsi) protocols. This flexibility, combined with significant data availability and performance enhancements, enables customers to deploy Snap Servers to solve a range of business problems. ESG reviewed the Snap Server 500 Series and spoke with Quail Technologies, a Snap Server channel partner, to uncover the opportunities these products are providing customers. Brian Babineau Analyst June

2 Introduction Small and mid-size businesses (SMBs), similar to global enterprises, rely on vital information to run day-to-day operations. Financial systems, messaging applications and supply chains create critical data that needs to be adequately stored, managed and protected. Unlike their enterprise brethren, SMBs do not have access to the financial resources or expertise to procure and run complicated storage environments. However, SMBs can still achieve their data storage, management and protection objectives by deploying cost-effective networked storage infrastructures. Historically, networked storage involved moving data from direct attached storage on servers to a centralized storage system. While consolidating storage can certainly help organizations improve access to data and reduce tedious backup processes, today s storage networks must be more flexible to meet evolving data availability and protection requirements. SMBs need to distribute data among branch offices and remote employees, improving collaboration and information sharing. Also, with applications ranging from basic file sharing to messaging and database solutions, organizations need the flexibility to use both file and block protocols to connect servers and storage. Lastly, organizations are beginning to tier storage, deploying critical applications on high performance storage systems and storing backup or archived data on less expensive, dense storage. As organizations demand more flexibility from next-generation storage systems, the cost to acquire and manage the technology needs to be reasonable. SMBs do not have large IT budgets and rarely have the in-house expertise to operate complex storage systems. Basic tasks such as adding capacity, migrating data or monitoring multiple devices must be simple and automated, whenever possible. Additionally, the storage systems should integrate with data protection software, including traditional and emerging backup software such as Virtual Tape Library (VTL) solutions. Snap Server 500 Series Understanding these requirements for next generation networked storage systems, Snap Server unveiled its 500 Series, the latest addition to its Network Attached Storage product portfolio. Organizations can choose Snap Server: More than just hardware from three models the one that best meets their Data Security application capacity, performance and availability All Snap Servers include a copy of Computer Associates requirements. For high performance applications and etrust Antivirus software to protect valuable corporate file services, the Snap Server 550 ships with 1.2TB of data from malicious attacks. higher-end Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) capacity. The Data Protection Snap Server 520 has two capacity options, supporting Snap Servers are integrated with Bakbone NetVault 1TB or 2TB Serial ATA configurations. Large Virtual Tape Library (VTL) software facilitating disk-based customers can use this system as a secondary backup. Snap Servers support 500GB of VTL capacity at storage tier, while smaller businesses and remote no additional cost. offices may utilize the 520 model to store primary data. And, supporting 640GB of SATA storage, the StorAssure Personal Edition software continuously 510 provides customers with the ability to build protects Windows based clients, tracking and copying all secondary storage for protecting data or storing changes made to files. Clients can be backed up to a archives. The Snap Server 500 Series also offers Snap Server system. easy scalability through the deployment of JBOD Data Management expansion units that can expand the 520 up to 26TB GuardianOS is the Linux-based operating system that and the 550 up to 43.2TB. runs all of the Snap Server 500 models. This ability to choose between SAS- and SATA-based systems, and to populate the expansion JBOD with either SAS or SATA disks offers customers the ability to align data accessibility and performance requirements with the appropriate storage system. SAS offers the high performance and supreme reliability required for storing mission-critical data. When compared to Fibre Channel, SAS systems deliver comparable performance at a lower cost. In contrast, SATA systems are best utilized when an Snap Server Manager, a web-based application, helps customers install, manage, and monitor all Snap Servers from a single point of control. Snap Enterprise Data Replication enables data mobility between Snap Servers and general purpose file servers, supporting business continuity and data distribution requirements. 2

3 application, such as a Virtual Tape Library, requires high volume storage with adequate performance. A SATA system is less expensive than Fibre Channel and SAS, making it ideal to store high volumes of nearline data. Whether the servers are being used for primary or secondary storage, the Snap Server 500 Series offers Customers always hammer home that they want storage solutions that are reliable and affordable. We introduced a customer to the 550 and they were impressed with the system because it has all the benefits, performance and reliability of SCSI at the cost of ATA. simplified capacity expansion. GuardianOS, the Linux-based operating system on which the 500 Series is built, includes Instant Capacity Expansion, which allows customers to add expansion storage, format RAID sets and add or grow volumes while existing data remains intact, available and online. Snap Servers are easily managed via the Snap Server Manager, a Java-based web console for configuring a system s basic settings as well as many other administrative tasks, adding capacity and non-disruptively upgrading GuardianOS on any number of Snap Servers, as new features become available. The GuardianOS Instant Capacity Expansion (I.C.E.) interface enables SMBs to easily scale their storage as applications require additional capacity without the complexity traditionally associated with managing networked storage. The base Snap Server platform is designed to keep the systems online. All Snap Server 500 models provide availability features usually found only in much more expensive solutions, including support for dual power supplies, dual redundant GigaBit Ethernet cards and Ethernet teaming to provide failover capability. For additional fault tolerance, each Snap Server ships with four drives, all of which have a copy We are excited with the new 550 base components, including the AMD processor. This is a great selling point, as AMD s performance immediately garners the customer s attention. Intel is a little old hat. of GuardianOS. Snap Servers can boot from any one of the drives, reducing the risk of system unavailability or data loss in the case of a drive failure. Data availability is only part of the larger data storage picture. Customers are changing the way data is managed, as well as the technology used to protect, secure and store many different types of data. Facing record retention regulations, increasing risk of e-discovery requests and the need to improve data protection processes, they are storing more data online. In fact, over 50% of organizations surveyed by ESG are moving data onto more accessible storage media. Restricted capital and operating budgets have created the need to store this data on lower-cost storage systems without sacrificing availability and accessibility. To help move data from high performance to dense, inexpensive storage, customers can utilize Snap Enterprise Data Replicator (Snap EDR). This data mobility software suite also enables customers to move data between Snap Servers and Windows, Linux and UNIX file servers as part of a migration or to support business continuity and disaster recovery operations. When our customer s IT department knew it had to come up with a disaster recovery plan, Snap Server was the most logical choice, as its solution was at least 10 times less than the nearest competitor and there was no performance degradation. In addition to data migration and replication, Snap EDR can be used to distribute data, making it more accessible to employees within a central office and remote or branch offices. Snap Enterprise Data Replicator Advanced can help reduce storage costs by identifying old files, and moving them from primary storage to a lower-cost system. Deploying a Snap Server with Serial ATA capacity is one solution for keeping this older information online for longer periods of time. Many organizations are utilizing solutions such as Snap EDR Advanced to build online digital archives to keep information active for litigation support, regulatory compliance or other business purposes. Figure 1 highlights recent ESG research that shows that over 70% of organizations have already migrated or will migrate data into an online archive. 3

4 Figure 1 Snap Server customers can migrate information from a primary SAS Snap Server to a lower-cost, SATA system Percentage of organizations that had to migrate information into an online or nearline digital archive No, but we will have that requirement, 20% No, and we do not expect to have that requirement, 23% Yes, 52% Do not know, 5% Snap Server 500 Series: A Market Perspective Migrating data into an online archive is one example of how customers can utilize Snap Servers and Snap EDR software to keep information accessible at the right cost. The flexibility and integrated software of the Snap Server 500 Series platform provide resellers and customers with several opportunities to network storage without adding significant cost or complexity. Mark Spear, Vice President of Sales for Quail Technologies, a California valued-added reseller that specializes in providing best-of-breed Linux services and solutions to enterprises of all sizes, has been selling Snap Server products for three years. His comments are reflected in the Voices of the Market callouts in this report and his additional insights on the Snap Server 500 Series follow. According to Spear, Quail s customers need an alternative to the cost of NetApp and EMC and to the manageability issues of Microsoft. He believes that the Snap Server 550, with its support for SAS drives provides a true enterprise class storage system minus the price premium. Quail is also combining the Snap 500 platforms with Snap EDR software into more consultative sales that provide disaster recovery solutions for its customers. In these solutions, the Snap Server 550 is used for primary applications and Snap EDR copies data to a SATA-based Snap Server 510 or 520, where data can be archived at a lower cost. With the Snap Server 500 platform, Quail is able to deliver an all Snap Server solution, as it recently did to a regional bank subject to severe flooding, who needed to replicate data to a secondary site. Other Quail customers have deployed Snap Servers within engineering departments where large files are constantly accessed, modified and shared. Many business units do not have the budget to buy bigger brand name NAS systems. However, engineering departments and workbench scientists cannot compromise performance and reliability. These users need data at their fingertips and Snap Servers have been able to meet their accessibility and availability requirements, Spear said. IT departments are also looking for ways to replace tape. One of our customers is sick of tape as it takes them 4 days to complete full backups of ten servers. Snap s integration with VTL software quickly solves these types of problems and does not cost a fortune. The solution for this customer, which uses the Snap Server as a backup target on an IP SAN, is only possible because the Snap Server supports both traditional file server protocols and iscsi. With all the configuration options and integrated software, the latest Snap Servers retain the brand s well-known ease of installation and can still be installed in only half-a-day. A lot of our customers have experience with Snap technology and they know it s simple and easy to manage. 4

5 Probably the most compelling advantage for customers is the flexibility of the Snap Servers. By supporting Linux, Windows, UNIX and Apple servers, Quail can help customers consolidate file shares. If customers outgrow direct attached storage across 5 servers running different operating systems, they would have to buy 4 to 5 (non Snap) NAS boxes where one Snap Server can meet their requirements. This saves customers money and managing one device is much easier than supporting five. Summary Value Add Resellers such as Quail provide a significant level of insight when it comes to understanding the storage requirements of SMBs. Customers are clearly looking for storage systems with enterprise functionality at more affordable prices. This requires system vendors to build flexible storage systems that can be configured to support various data accessibility and availability requirements. Additionally, these systems cannot be difficult to manage. By delivering the next generation of NAS, the Snap Server 500 Series enables customers to store, manage and protect data without hiring additional IT staff. Snap Servers also provide integrated security, data management and protection software to keep more data online and accessible to business applications. With multiple configuration options, the Snap Server 500 offers a variety of easily-managed performance and availability options that can be aligned with application availability requirements. All these solutions are built on the GuardianOS operating system, for easy scaling of storage capacity and seamless migration of data onto larger or more cost-effective systems. Altogether, the Snap Server 500 Series provides a range of choices for customers who do not have the budget to procure and manage a range of vendors and the typically complex associated systems and software. As SMBs create and store more data, they need flexible storage systems that support multiple applications and various data accessibility requirements. The Snap Server 500 Series and integrated software provides the necessary flexibility to help customers keep data online and accessible and network their storage without breaking the bank. DISCLAIMER All trademark names are property of their respective companies. Information contained in this publication has been obtained by sources The (ESG) considers to be reliable but is not warranted by ESG. This publication may contain opinions of ESG, which are subject to change from time to time. This publication is copyrighted by The, Inc. and is intended only for use by Subscribers or by persons who have purchased it directly from ESG. Any reproduction or redistribution of this publication, in whole or in part, whether in hard-copy format, electronically, or otherwise to persons not authorized to receive it, without the express consent of the, Inc., is in violation of U.S. copyright law and will be subject to an action for civil damages and, if applicable, criminal prosecution. Should you have any questions, please contact ESG Client Relations at (508)

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